President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic has issued an order to shut down the country’s border with neighbouring Haiti. The border closure is set to take effect on Friday, September 15, at 6am local time, adding to the escalating tensions between the two nations.
On Wednesday, Haiti’s government revealed it was in talks with Dominican officials to address a recent threat made by President Abinader.
A brief statement from Haiti’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided scant details but conveyed the shared mission of both nations to find a “fair and definitive” solution to their disagreements, centred around the use of the Massacre River, which forms the natural border between the two nations on the island of Hispaniola.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Dominican Republic confirmed the meeting had taken place and said it is hoped a solution can be reached in the dispute.
The already-strained relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic took a further hit on Monday when President Abinader announced a suspension of visa issuance to Haitians.
He also issued a stark warning that all land, air, and sea traffic could come to a grinding halt if the canal issue remained unresolved by Thursday.
The disputed canal project, on Haitian soil, has raised questions regarding the authorisation for its excavation.
The dispute had previously forced President Abinader to close the border near the northern town of Dajabon, a vital economic lifeline for Haitians who rely on cross-border trade.
Dominican officials claim that the canal’s construction could divert water from the Massacre River, potentially causing harm to local farmers and the environment.
The river’s name is rooted in a historic battle between French and Spanish colonisers during the 18th century.