DR open to talks with Haiti; yet a firm no to diverting waters of Dajabon River

The Dominican government is open to talks with Haiti.

Vice President Raquel Peña said recently that what the government does not find acceptable is that unilateral decisions be taken. She was referring to the impasse over the construction of a canal that would divert the waters of a 55 km river that is born in the Dominican Republic and flows for two kilometers in Haiti.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry insisted in his words in the United Nations General Debate last week that Haiti has the right to manage river resources. Henry said that his country “has the same right” as the Dominican Republic to “use resources in binational water.”

“[… Haiti is not at war with anyone. Haiti is a generous and united people who believe in dialogue and the possibility of fairly sharing common resources with mutual respect [….] We have no intention against our neighbors with whom we share the island and with whom we share the border,” adding “history reminds us daily that the violence of a brother country only brings bitterness which is transmitted from generation to generation” and that “the Massacre River has been a source of historical friction between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and invites us not to resurrect these wounds or create new ones.”

“Haiti […] demands an equitable distribution of the resources of this river,” declared Ariel Henry, who is now making it a matter of State. However, he clarified that Haiti favored the path of dialogue and negotiation in this matter to overcome what he described as “useless unrest” between the two Republics, as reported in Haiti Libre.

From the Dominican side, the diverting of the waters of the Dajabon/Masacre river is just another environmental misstep taken by Haiti that has turned its third of Hispaniola Island into an environmental disaster.

Managing editor of Diario Libre, Benjamin Morales highlights how the world has ignored that Haiti is an environmental threat, leaving the Dominican Republic to bear the consequences.

“The truth is that Haiti became an environmental danger years ago, but no one is addressing the issue, because it does not affect them closely, which is not the case in the Dominican Republic. The conflict caused by the canal in the Massacre results from all that poor environmental management. It’s not something that happens now; it’s just that the river wasn’t important when it was pouring rain and flowing with enough water for everyone. As time has passed, that has changed. Deforestation on the Haitian side of the island must have altered the water cycle and harmed the natural production of the liquid on the entire island. So, we see a Massacre short of flow and some Haitian ‘entrepreneurs’ seeking to assault it to prey on it, which is a crime. In that, I agree with the Dominican Republic. Haiti has been an environmental criminal for decades and its oligarchy has encouraged the unchecked destruction of its natural resources. Now they want to do it with water and it should not be allowed, so it is time for the UN to do its part and mediate in this conflict, which more than a Dominican complaint, is a climate change problem.”

Read more:
Diario Libre
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Listin Diario
Listin Diario
Haiti Libre
Peoples Dispatch
New York Times
The Guardian
Miami Herald
Prime Minister Canada

25 September 2023