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The Dominican Republic has sealed its entire border with Haiti due to escalating tensions surrounding a canal project.
A rising dispute over the canal’s construction from a shared river has prompted the Dominican Republic’s decision to close its border with Haiti, which went into effect at 6 AM local time on Friday. This shutdown is anticipated to persist “as long as necessary,” with the enforcement of Dominican military and police forces at the border.
President Luis Abinader informed the media during a press conference on Thursday, saying, “Unfortunately, they left us no alternative but to take drastic measures.” Despite the Haitian government grappling with gang-related violence, Abinader was confident in his nation’s capability to regulate the canal’s construction, mentioning, “We have been prepared for weeks, not only for this situation but also for a possible peace force in Haiti.”
The source of contention stems from the Haitian canal construction, believed by Dominican officials to siphon off water from the Massacre River that traverses both nations. This diversion allegedly breaches the 1929 Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Arbitration.
The Haitian government confirmed on Wednesday its recent meeting with Dominican officials in an attempt to resolve the canal issue, with both parties striving for a “fair and definitive” solution.
Despite this, the Dominican Republic has moved forward with border blockade, encompassing all transit modalities: land, sea, and air. Additional military resources, including 20 armored vehicles, were dispatched to a border camp.
In anticipation of the border closure, Haitians were observed hurrying toward the border. Meanwhile, Sunrise Airways incorporated an extra flight between the two nations on Thursday afternoon before the lockdown.