Dajabon, Dominican Republic, Oct 21 (EFE).- Haitians used vehicles Friday to block the bridge connecting Juana Mendez, Haiti, to this town in the northwestern Dominican Republic to protest Dominican restrictions on people crossing the border to refuel at gas stations on the Dominican side.
Police on the Haitian side of the boundary fired shots into the air to break up the protest. While some of the demonstrators fled, a small group remained and began pelting the cops with rocks.
Amid a dire fuel shortage due to the blockade of the main oil terminal in Port-au-Prince by well-armed gangs, Haitian motorists have been crossing the border to fill-up at Dominican gas stations.
A source at the Dominican ministry of industry and commerce told EFE that the protest was in response to a new regulation allowing a maximum of 30 Haitian motorcyclists to enter Dajabon at one time.
One of the demonstrators, Rodrigo Pierre, said that no Haitians will be permitted to cross from Juana Mendez to Dajabon until Dominican authorities lift the restrictions.
Dajabon’s mayor, Santiago Riveron, said that the rules must be respected and vowed that Dominican authorities will not bend to pressure from foreigners.
The Dominican government deployed additional security forces to the border and the country’s defense minister, Lt. Gen. Carlos Luciano Diaz Morfa, visited the area to appraise the situation.
Haiti’s consul in Dajabon, Francois Guirer, has pleaded with the demonstrators in Juana Mendez to relent.
Merchants in Dajabon say the shutdown has cost them millions of dollars in lost sales to Haitians who normally do their shopping on the Dominican side of the border. EFE