Foreign Relations Minister Roberto Álvarez went on record last week saying that the influx of foreign donations in Haiti has not succeeded in creating a stable country. In his opinion, until the people of that nation focus efforts in the same direction, they will not solve the escalating conflicts. In an interview with journalist Lorenny Solano for Despierta RD on Telecentro Channel 13 on Wednesday, 27 July 2022, Alvarez urged that the international community and the countries of the region work together to promote actions that will help Haiti to move forward.
“Haiti can seek its own development,” he stated. But he insisted that for political, business, religious, academic and other matters, the elites must finally agree. “The development of that nation will never be achieved until Haitians agree,” the country’s leading foreign relations representative emphasized.
The Foreign Minister also pointed out that the assassination of President Jovenel Moise a year ago has hindered relations between the Dominican and Haitian people, because there is no government with electoral legitimacy. He said the Dominican government has negotiated with opposition groups to broaden the social bases, but the talks have not succeeded.
“The crisis in Haiti has exacerbated the level of criminal gangs that have control of an estimated 60 to 65% of the territory of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. This has made the bilateral relationship between the two states more difficult. It is difficult to have a normal relationship because they kidnap truck drivers and our citizens,” said Alvarez.
Nevertheless, he pointed out that although trade between the Dominican Republic and Haiti has dropped dramatically in recent years, the relationship at the governmental level is good and talks are ongoing.
He affirmed that work has continued on the issues listed in the nine points of the agreement signed on 10 January 2021 between Luis Abinader and the late Jovenel Moïse. “We have been advancing but not at the speed that would have been desired,” he said and mentioned the ongoing project to build hospitals on the border with Haiti and the perimeter fence.
Alvarez says that if the Dominican Republic is elected to occupy a seat in the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2024-2026, actions would be stepped up to project the image of the country in a positive way.
He also affirmed that it was a US congressman and not the UN, who spoke without any foundation about the statelessness of more than 135,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent. “That is a fact that no one knows where he got it from and that is easily refutable. In the Dominican Republic there is not even remotely statelessness at that level. We are actively working to resolve past cases,” said Alvarez.
Regarding the Ibero-American Summit in Santo Domingo to be held in March 2023, he said that the country seeks to push for several of the issues that will be discussed there. “We have been working feverishly for some time on this summit. The Dominican Republic for the first time is playing a role as an important country that can serve as an axis between the Caribbean, the Caribbean Islands, Central America and even beyond,” he said during the interview.
He said that President Luis Abinader has reached out and has close relations with heads of state of Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe: “He has helped our exports, to bring investment capital and to position us as a culturally important country as well,” said the Foreign Minister.
He spoke of the role of the Dominican Republic in creating awareness of regional issues in international organizations, such as the problem with the sargassum in the region.
About his administration
Roberto Álvarez detailed that when he arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Relations (Mirex), the government ministry was a known “political booty” where there were many appointments of people who did not work at the headquarters or any of the Dominican missions.
“They were simply political appointees,” he explained. He said many of the officials abroad did not meet the profiles required by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, therefore they were never accredited by the country where they were appointed. However, these were readily paid.
He pointed out that one of the tasks of transformation at the Ministry has been the professionalization and modernization of the foreign service. “Today, the people who have been appointed are accredited before the governments, in addition to the fact that all those who were not performing a function were removed from the payroll,” he said.
He emphasized that the protection of Dominicans abroad; the promotion of exports and the attraction of foreign capital; and the promotion of democratic values and the principles of human rights are the three main axes of his foreign policy.
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1 August 2022