Dominican Foreign Minister insists that to dialogue with Haiti, canal works must be stopped

Dominican Foreign Minister Roberto Álvarez emphasizes that stopping the controversial construction of the Dajabón River canal is crucial for dialogue and resolution of the escalating bilateral crisis with Haiti.

Roberto Alvarez

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Leer en español: Canciller dominicano insiste que para dialogar con Haití deben pararse obras del canal

Urgent Paralysis of the Canal Over the Dajabón River: Statements by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Dominican Foreign Minister, Roberto Álvarez, said this Thursday that "it is essential" to paralyze the controversial construction of a canal on the bordering Dajabón River (called Massacre in Haiti) so that there is a "conducive" dialogue between both countries about these works and the bilateral crisis they have caused.

"Both before and now, our position has been clear and constant: for a dialogue to be conducive, it is essential to stop the construction of the canal over the Dajabón River, due to the technical shortcomings and threats of environmental and natural damage that it can cause, given "Our analyzes are based on the meager documentation available," stressed Álvarez when addressing this issue before three committees of the Dominican Chamber of Deputies.

Firm Position of the Government Regarding the Dajabón River Canal

In his appearance at a joint meeting of the permanent commissions of the Armed Forces, Border Affairs, and Foreign Relations and International Cooperation with the assistance of the president of the Lower House, Alfredo Pacheco, the chancellor presented the position of the Dominican Government on the construction of the controversial channel on the Haitian side and the diplomatic actions carried out in this regard.

This is an issue that, the minister noted, "has become politicized, turning the canal into a bastion of Haitian nationalism, involving various national sectors, including armed bandits," according to a statement from the Foreign Department.

The diplomat indicated that, since the Dominican cabinet learned of the construction of the canal in April 2021, the works have been requested to be stopped, considering that they violate the Treaty of Peace, Perpetual Friendship and Arbitration of 1929 between both countries.

In May 2021, a meeting was held between the two parties to discuss the matter and in the joint statement of that meeting "the construction of the canal was not agreed in any way", but, on the contrary, the demand was maintained that the work was stopped and the pertinent studies were presented, Álvarez stated.

Exploration of Alternatives and Bilateral Crisis

The minister warned that Dominican technical analyses show that the canal would seriously harm the environment of both countries and has the potential to generate floods in Haiti and the Dominican Republic during the river's flooding season.

Given all of this, the chancellor recalled, the collaboration of the Organization of American States (OAS) was requested and in October a mission from that institution traveled to the island.

In the minister's opinion, there are still alternatives to explore to resolve the dispute (there is already experience of joint water management in the south of the country) and the possibility of "cooperation to implement alternative solutions that are feasible at a technical and environmental level."

The crisis over the canal on the bordering Dajabón River has deteriorated relations between both countries, to the point that the Dominican Government decided, among other measures, to completely close the borders on September 15 and suspend the expedition of visas.

Read also: Haiti's CARDH: Forced to Pause Amid Escalating Gang Violence

A month later, the Dominican Republic made the border closure commercially more flexible, but now Haiti rejects the resumption of binational markets.

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