President says DR does not seek confrontation with Haiti

September 18, 2023
President Luis Abinader, DR President

President Luis Abinader has defended his decision to completely close the land, air and sea borders with Haiti last Friday as the two countries that make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola continue to be at odds over the construction of an irrigation canal in Haiti.

Water from the canal comes from the Massacre River which flows between the two countries.

In a brief television broadcast on Sunday night, Abinader said the border closure will continue until the construction of the canal is suspended.

“We neither wish nor seek confrontation, but we are faced with uncontrollable people who maintain insecurity in Haiti and who, because of their private interests, are now also conspiring against the stability of their government and the security of our resources in water,” he said, adding ‘this is not a conflict between two peoples, because neither the Dominican people nor the Haitian people want confrontation”.

But Abinader warned that the “precedent of an irrigation project built unilaterally can lead to an escalation of construction that would destroy the river.

“We understood the need to react forcefully in self-defence against uncontrollable groups who do not obey the Haitian constitutional order and do not recognise bilateral agreements.

“Why did we act ? To prevent our rivers from drying up, our forests from being cut down or our wildlife from disappearing. Our objective is to ensure security and the national interest, as well as to protect our rivers, our environment and our agricultural production.”

Last weekend, Haiti Friday said that as a sovereign nation it will decide on the “exploitation of its natural resources.

“The Republic of Haiti will always favour dialogue; which was underway and on a good track between the Haitian delegation, duly mandated, with their Dominican counterparts of the Binational Commission, at the Dominican Chancellery, in the Dominican Republic, when the announcement of the Dominican President to close its borders was made,” the government said in a statement.

Port au Prince said, it has, like the Dominican Republic, with which it shares the Massacre River, “the full right to take catches there, in accordance with the 1929 agreement.

“The government of the Republic of Haiti will take all necessary measures to protect the interests of the Haitian people,” it added.

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