President Luis Abinader speaks at the Columbia University World Leaders Forum

President Luis Abinader is in New York City to attend the UN General Assembly and took time to speak to Columbia University students. The President explained that the security of Dominicans is his main concern, even above economic interests, when referring to the recent conflict with Haiti. The DR has officially protested that Haitians divert the waters of a river born in the Dominican Republic. The Masacre/Dajabón river runs for 55 km of which two km pass through Haitian territory.

The Haitians defend their right to divert the course of the waters. The Dominican government has closed trade and migration between both countries to protest the actions that violate treaties between the two countries. The stand of the Dominican Republic is not to sick down for talks until the diverting of the river waters is stopped.

Likewise, the President said that the solidarity of Dominicans with neighboring Haiti is demonstrated when 34% of hospital beds and 16% of the country’s health system services Haitian nationals. President Abinader has insisted that the world cannot expect a Dominican solution to the multidimensional crisis in Haiti.

When participating in the World Leaders Forum on Monday, 18 September at Columbia University, President Abinader said that he continues to look for alternatives to the problems caused by the closure of the border. When questioned by students of different nationalities, President Abinader insisted that through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and other state institutions, measures have been taken to mitigate the losses suffered by merchants’ that benefit from the binational trade. Haiti is a major buyer of Dominican produce.

President Abinader explained to the students of this university that currently part of Haitian territory is being controlled by criminal gangs that do not respect the laws and provisions of their government. He reiterated his call that the international community take major steps for a solution to the internal conflict in Haiti.

In the remarks at Columbia University, the President also mentioned the achievements of his administration, speaking of high growth in the midst of the pandemic and the strengthening of tourism.

He highlighted educational reform to the police, poverty reduction, job creation, improvement of renewable energy and US$4.1 billion the country has attracted in foreign investment. Likewise, he spoke of the reduction of public debt from 62% of the Gross Domestic Product to 59%.

“I feel pleased with our achievements, with how the country is doing in its last decades, with its democracy, with the consolidation of its institutions in recent years. “We are a middle-income country and our goal is to become a high-income country in about 25 years,” said President Abinader.

A student asked the President if the recent action taken to close the border was related to racism, and the President responded the Dominican Republic is a country where 85% of the population is of mixed race.

President Abinader was accompanied by First Lady Raquel Arbaje; Foreign Minister Roberto Álvarez; Economy, Planning and Development Minister Pável Isa. Also present was Dominican ambassador to the United States Sonia Guzman; the consul general in New York, Eligio Jáquez and the ambassador to the United Nations, José Blanco, among others.

President Luis Abinader is scheduled to address the plenary of the United Nations assembly on 21 September 2023.

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19 September 2023