President Luis Abinader explained during the General Debate of the United Nations on 20 September 2023 the threats the diverting of a river canal in Haiti represents for the environment and the population of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The river begins in Loma de Cabrera, Dajabón province and flows northward for 55 km, entering for around two kilometers into Haitian territory and then continuing through Dominican territory until its waters flow into Manzanilla Bay. The river waters are key for farms in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic on Friday, 15 September 2023 closed entry from Haiti by land, air and sea after the Haitian government allowed the resuming of the construction of the canal that violates the 1929 Peace and Perpetual Friendship and Arbitration Treaty on river water use by both countries.
President Abinader stressed the diverting of the waters by the Haitian business people could cause major environmental and farm damages and threatens the livelihood of the population in Haiti.
The Dominican government has been protesting the canal’s construction since 2021 when it was begun. An agreement had been reached with the late President Jovenel Moise to stop the construction until a technical team issue the feasibility studies on the project. The construction was stopped at the time, only to resume recently, leading to the present conflict between the two countries.
The Dominican Presidency has singled out the names and backgrounds of a group of nine persons said to be behind the canal’s construction that would divert the river’s waters.
President Abinader began his speech at the 78th General Assembly urging people to open Google Earth and observe the dramatic difference on the island of Hispaniola — deforestation in Haiti by Haitian nationals compared to the green forests in the Dominican Republic. He points out the diverting of the river waters would be another step in the direction of the environmental devastation in Haiti.
In his remarks in New York City, President Abinader explained that the diverting of the waters would place farms and settlements in Haiti in danger of flooding as well as threaten the nearby Codevi industrial complex that employs upwards of 19,000 Haitians.
The canal’s construction in Haiti has the backing of Barbecue, the infamous gang leader that controls large areas of Haiti through violence.
President Abinader stated once again at the UN forum that the world cannot expect a Dominican solution to the chaos in Haiti. “We do not have, nor do we desire, nor do we seek a confrontation with the Haitian people, but we are confronting the uncontrollable players who maintain insecurity in Haiti for their particular interests and who now also conspire against the stability of their government and the security of water resources,” stated President Abinader during the 78th General Assembly.
President Abinader seconded the words of US President Joe Biden, who called for the urgent deployment of a security mission in Haiti with the support of the United Nations.
President Abinader also asked for programs for middle-income developing countries to mitigate climate change and imported inflation. He mentioned the Dominican Republic is encouraging the use of renewable energies. But he said the country still has a great dependence on fossil fuels.
He motivated the United Nations community to approve a financial mechanism that guarantees the stability of crude oil prices for middle- and low-income importing countries, like the Dominican Republic.
He mentioned the critical issue of algae formation that affects tourism in the Caribbean. He said the DR would sign the convention for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). But he said more is needed to be done and urged the adoption of the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) applicable to all developing countries, or implementing the Loss and Damage Fund to provide financial assistance to the nations most vulnerable to disasters.
He highlighted the importance of the International Summit to be held in Antigua and Barbuda, in May 2024, on Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
He called for the creation of a financing mechanism under favorable conditions so that middle-income countries can face the challenges posed by compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 2015-2030). President Abinader stressed: “The lack of access to adequate resources was precisely one of the reasons why most countries failed to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG 2000-2015). As the Secretary General has declared, the international financial system ‘is broken.’ “The Dominican Republic firmly believes in a profound reform of the international financial architecture, which benefits all countries equitably.”
Nuria Piera Investigacion
Los Angeles Times
21 September 2023