Members of the Haitian press record images from their side of the border on October 13, 2023, near the binational market, in Dajabón (Dominican Republic). EFE/Luis Tavárez

Dominican Republic to maintain security measures at border with Haiti

Santo Domingo, 16 October (EFE) – The Dominican Republic will not give up its measures to strengthen its security on the border with Haiti, although this country maintains its position of not resuming the binational market, mainly held on Mondays and Fridays in the Dominican city of Dajabón (northwest).

The two border countries are at odds over the construction of a canal in Haitian territory to take water from the Masacre River, a natural border in the north of both countries, which the Dominican Republic opposes on the grounds that it violates the Treaty of Peace, Perpetual Friendship and Arbitration signed in 1929.

“We will not give in. The border will not be the same, the disorder in the markets will not be the same. We know that the (Haitian) population has wanted to enter (the market) but has been stopped by some sectors in Haiti,” said Dominican President Luis Abinader in his Monday press conference at the National Palace.

Dominicans and Haitians were used to buying and selling different products in the markets of the border municipalities of Jimaní, Elías Piña and Pedernales.

Abinader said that it was “possible” that Haiti might find the new security measures at the border annoying, which include taking the biometric data of every Haitian citizen entering the Dominican Republic.

“We need to act like a civilized country, but one that also has to look after its interests (…) I’m not going to question the way they (the Haitians) did it, but I think they need to change because the way they did it has not worked for them in the past,” the president said.

As a result of the construction of the canal, Abinader ordered the complete closure of the border with Haiti and the suspension of visas for Haitians as of September 15.

The head of state eased these measures on Wednesday with the creation of “commercial corridors” at the border for the exchange of food and medicine in particular, in addition to the reopening of the markets.

However, Haitians did not cross to the Dominican side as expected. Only on Sunday several hundred went to buy some products and take back the goods they had in sales outlets in the Dajabón market, according to Ministry of Defense sources.

The Haitian government has reiterated that it will not stop building the canal as requested by the Dominican authorities.

Meanwhile, Dominicans have reactivated an irrigation canal upstream of the Masacre River from which they claim to take the water needed for plantations in the area.

Abinader reiterated that the country is not opposed to dialogue and recalled that both countries recently requested the mediation of the Organization of American States (OAS).

“The OAS asked us for some documents and we delivered them; it seems to me that the OAS had requested that Caricom also participate (in the negotiations). Meanwhile, we have taken measures to ensure national security,” the President added.

He also reiterated that his government will allocate some 3,000 million pesos (about $52.7 million) to carry out a mechanization plan in the agricultural and construction sectors to reduce the number of Haitian workers in the country.EFE