UNITED NATIONS (CMC) – Haiti says it has no intention of going to war with the Dominican Republic over a border situation that in the past few days “has been causing unnecessary problems” between the two republics.
The two countries make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, but last Friday, the Dominican Republic closed its land, air and sea borders with Haiti as the two countries continue to be at odds over the construction of an irrigation canal in Haiti.
Water from the canal comes from the Massacre River which flows between the two countries.
“I wish to state that the Republic of Haiti is not at war with anyone. Haitians are a generous people. We have always shown solidarity and believe in dialogue and the ability to fairly share shared resources through mutual respect, “Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry told the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday night.
“I came here today to let you know that we have no intention of any form to prejudge the neighbours with whom we share our island with whom we must co-exist and advance.
“History teaches us day in and day out that violence with a brotherly country can only lead to regrets and leave behind bitterness and remorse handed down from generation to generation.”
Henry said he wanted to pass on the message from the “entire Haitian people, the river known as the Massacre River, the background of friction between Haiti and the Dominican Republic means we must do our very best to ensure that old demons do not break free again, that we do not open old wounds or new ones”.
But Henry said Haiti “reaffirms this sovereign right of the Haitian people to use high natural water resources, just like the Dominican Republic and we call for an equitable sharing of the river resources.
“The Haitian people chooses the path of dialogue and to negotiation to peacefully resolve any differences, any conflict under the auspices of international agreements signed between the two states in 1929 and again in 2021,” Henry told the UNGA.
Last Sunday, President Luis Abinader defended his decision, saying that the border closure will continue until the construction of the canal is suspended.
“We neither wish nor seek confrontation, but we are faced with uncontrollable people who maintain insecurity in Haiti and who, because of their private interests, are now also conspiring against the stability of their government and the security of our resources in water,” he said, adding ‘this is not a conflict between two peoples, because neither the Dominican people nor the Haitian people want confrontation”.
Earlier this week, the United Nations expert on human rights in Haiti, William O’Neill, said he is “ extremely alarmed” at the decision of the Dominican Republic to completely close the land, air and sea borders with Haiti.
“I urge the government to reconsider its decision which will have serious impacts on people on both sides of the border. I further urge both governments to return to the negotiating table and follow the process outlined by the Joint Declaration of 27 May 2021 to reach a peaceful resolution of this dispute,” O’Neill said.