Border Closure Dominican Republic

Message from President Luis Abinader on the closure of the Dajabón – Haiti border

Message from President Luis Abinader on the closure of the Dajabón – Haiti border

“Fellow Dominicans,

As you are aware, last Thursday, I took the decision to order the closure of the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This action was taken after the expiration of the 72-hour grace period that we had given to those who, in clear violation of the border treaties between our two nations, were illegally involved in the construction of a canal to divert the waters of the Masacre River. We have always remained committed to being accountable to our citizens.

Today, I aim to address three fundamental questions about the current situation on our border with Haiti: How did we reach this point? Why did we take this action? And why is my upcoming trip to the United Nations General Assembly so significant?

However, before delving into these questions, it’s important to understand that the Masacre or Dajabón river originates in Loma de Cabrera, and out of its 55-kilometer course, only nine kilometers form our border, with a mere two kilometers extending into Haitian territory before flowing into the Bay of Manzanillo in Montecristi.

It is within this small two-kilometer segment on the Haitian side where the illegal canal construction is taking place. It’s crucial to note that 88% of the river’s flow runs through our territory. This river holds a dual significance for us, serving as a vital water source for agricultural production and marking the northern border of our nation.

So, how did we arrive at this point? In August 2018, Haitian citizens initiated the unilateral construction of an irrigation system using the waters of the Masacre River, with the dual aim of irrigating large plantations and selling water to smaller producers. The unregulated and illegal construction of the canal gained momentum from April 2021 onwards. In May of the same year, during a meeting of the Bilateral Mixed Commission, we formally demanded, through our Foreign Ministry, the immediate cessation of this unilateral canal construction.

The tragic event of President Jovenel Moise’s disappearance led to a temporary halt in the project. However, construction resumed a few weeks ago. This unlawful construction, instigated by the same provocateurs as always, has brought us to the point where, if there are uncontrollable elements in Haiti, I assure you, they will not be uncontrollable when it comes to the interests of the Dominican government.

Haitian citizens are enduring the repercussions of instability and insecurity caused by insurgent groups that have seized control of significant portions of the country. These groups disregard the legitimacy of their government, plunging their nation into a severe institutional crisis that has left the Haitian people in dire political and economic straits. We believe that resolving this crisis requires the intervention of the international community.

In light of this grave situation, which transcends Haiti’s borders and directly impacts our interests and legitimate rights, we have recognized the need to respond assertively to defend against uncontrollable groups that defy Haitian constitutional order and disregard bilateral agreements governing border relations between our nations.

Our constitution, which I have sworn to uphold, stipulates the inviolability of our territory and obliges us to regulate the sustainable use and protection of border rivers, adhering to the principles outlined in the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Arbitration of 1929 and the 1936 Revision Protocol.

This treaty, in Article Ten, explicitly states: “Because rivers and other water courses originate in the territory of one State and flow through the territory of another or serve as boundaries between the two States, both contracting parties undertake not to do or consent to any work likely to change the current of those or altering the product of their sources.” Regrettably, this is precisely what some Haitian individuals are doing.

So, why have we taken these measures to prevent our rivers from drying up, our forests from being razed, and our wildlife from facing extinction? The precedent of unilateral irrigation project construction could lead to further development that would harm the river irreparably.

The illegal canal’s construction could disrupt the river’s flow in the lower region, adversely affecting approximately 14,000 hectares of arable land in Dominican territory and another 10,000 hectares in Haitian territory. This land benefits 266 Dominican farmers and 125 Haitian farmers on both sides of the border. Furthermore, it poses a potential ecological threat to the crucial freshwater ecosystem of Laguna Saladilla, one of the Dominican Republic’s most significant wetlands. Haiti’s lack of planning and inadequate management of its natural resources have resulted in the destruction of its ecosystems, and actions such as this one are symptomatic of this larger issue.

The Dominican Republic has every right to take necessary actions to safeguard our rights within the framework of our laws and international agreements concerning border matters. Our objective is to ensure the security and national interest, as well as protect our rivers, environment, and agricultural production. As a testament to our unwavering commitment to this cause, we have suspended the issuance of visas, barred the promoters of the project from entering our country, closed our land, air, and sea borders, directed the reactivation of the Vigía water intake, initiated the construction of the Don Miguel dam, and strengthened our military presence along the entire border. These measures will remain in effect until we achieve the definitive cessation of the ongoing canal construction.

It is crucial to emphasize that this is not a conflict between our two peoples, as neither Dominicans nor Haitians seek confrontation. Our citizens have consistently demonstrated their desire for peaceful coexistence. We do not desire or seek confrontation; rather, we are confronting the uncontrollable forces responsible for perpetuating insecurity in Haiti. These forces, driven by personal interests, are now conspiring against the stability of Haiti’s government and the security of our water resources.

Rest assured, the situation along our border remains under control. The population can go about their daily activities across the nation without threat. Peace and security in the Dominican Republic are guaranteed.

However, we must also recognize our enduring responsibility to raise awareness in the international community and seek their assistance for Haiti. This is why my upcoming trip holds such significance, as the definitive solution lies beyond our borders.

The issue that Haiti faces is no longer solely a Haitian problem; it has become a global concern. I have consistently voiced this message since my initial address before the UN General Assembly in September 2021, and I will reiterate it in my upcoming intervention. The Dominican Republic cannot provide the sole solution to Haiti’s challenges. While we will continue to offer our support, we must not forget that our primary duty is to protect the interests of the Dominican people. This has been our longstanding approach, and it remains our unwavering commitment. Thank you, and may God bless the Dominican people,” President Luis Abinader, Dominican Republic.


Watch President Abinader’s Address to the Nation




Soledad Quartucci |Founder, CEO Latina Republic

At Latina Republic our mission is to foster regional understanding through stories that resonate from the heart of the Americas. Our primary objective is to encourage peaceful dialogue by shedding light on local perspectives often overlooked by mainstream media. We aspire to empower all stakeholders in resolving regional challenges by disseminating this valuable knowledge. We strive to capture the triumphs and struggles of everyday life in Latin America. Our stories track the evolution of social movements, amplifying the voices of those pioneering change.