The Dominican Republic on Friday closed all land, air, and sea borders with neighboring Haiti as a dispute over the construction of a canal on the Haitian side of a shared river has worsened.1
This comes as Dominican President Luis Abinader announced Thursday a total border shutdown that will last 'as long as necessary,' with backing from their military and police forces, while talks with the Haitian government continue.2
The closure is a response to a canal being excavated by a farming group in Haiti that would use water from the Massacre River, which runs along the border between the countries that share the island of Hispaniola.3
Dominican officials claim that the project will divert water from the river, violating the 1929 Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Arbitration. Santo Domingo last fully closed its border following the killing of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.4
Port-au-Prince reacted on Friday by stressing it has the right to decide how to exploit its natural resources in accordance with the 1929 agreement and vowing to take all necessary measures to protect the interests of its people.5
Haiti has been plagued by an economic and political crisis for years, making it one of the world's poorest nations. A rise in gang violence has exacerbated the crisis, prompting thousands of Haitians to flee their homeland and seek work in the more prosperous Dominican Republic, which has toughened its immigration policy in response.6
Narrative A, as provided by Washington Post. The world is failing the Haitian people, and this dispute is yet another example of it. The Dominican government's unilateral decision to close the border essentially traps Haitians — who are already facing extreme levels of violence and struggling to feed their families and access clean water and health care — in a move to politically capitalize on anti-Haitian sentiments ahead of next year's election.
Narrative B, as provided by Dominicantoday. The border closure is a necessary measure that must remain in effect while the Haitian government, which has problems controlling its territory, fails to prevent the building of this provocative canal to divert water from the Massacre River. Talks to address this ongoing dispute are underway, and hopefully, Santo Domingo will soon come to good terms with Port-au-Prince.