Haiti announces meeting with Dominican Republic to resolve river boundary dispute

Port-au-Prince, Sept 13 (EFE).- The Haitian government announced Wednesday that a meeting would be held in Santo Domingo to resolve the conflict over the construction by Haiti of a canal to take water from the Masacre River on the border between the two countries.

“The governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic have decided by mutual agreement to meet in Santo Domingo on Wednesday, 13 September 2023, within the framework of the Binational Water Table of the Bilateral Joint Commission,” the Haitian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religious Affairs said in a statement.

Dominican authorities, however, haven’t confirmed nor denied their presence.

The objective of the meeting is “to find a just and definitive solution to the problem of the equitable use of the shared water of the Masacre River, in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Arbitration of February 20, 1929,” the Haitian government statement added.

On Monday, Dominican President Luis Abinader announced that if there was no solution by Thursday, the border would be completely closed (not just at the northern point as it is today) and land, air and sea trade with Haiti would be blocked.

On the same day, the Dominican National Security Council took several measures: maintaining the closure of the northern border; definitively suspending the entry of “all those involved in the conflict;” suspending the issuance of visas to Haitian citizens until further notice; reactivating a canal that has been out of service since 2007-2008 to guarantee the supply of water to Dominican producers and farmers, and initiating the process of building a dam as a long-term solution.

It was also indicated that a bilateral meeting of the Binational Round Table would be requested to reach a definitive solution on the border river.

Abinader said that the Haitian government is not responsible for the construction of the canal, but that it is the work of a “group of businessmen who want to bring these waters to their farms.”

The head of state also said that Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry assured him that although his government does not agree with the canal, it does not have the means to stop those who are building it.

However, other Haitian politicians, such as former Prime Minister Claude Joseph, support the construction of the canal and claim that it does not violate the agreements between the two bordering countries.

“The canal that we are building does not affect them (Dominicans). The work in progress does not violate any commitments or treaties,” Joseph said in a video posted on his Facebook account on Tuesday. EFE


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