Latin America Advisor

Latin America Advisor

A Publication of The Dialogue

What Does a Border Closure Mean for Haiti-DR Relations?

The Dominican Republic’s president closed the country’s border with Haiti earlier this month. Dominican troops are pictured at the border. // File Photo: Government of the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic closed its border with Haiti on Sept. 15 as a result of a dispute over access to water from a shared river. The move sealed all land, sea and air frontiers between the two countries. Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader said restrictions will remain in place until construction is halted on a canal in Haiti that seeks to use water from the Massacre River to alleviate a drought. How important is the canal to sustain Haiti’s economy? How affected has the Dominican Republic been by the security crisis in neighboring Haiti? What will the border closure mean for Haitians seeking to flee their gang-ravaged country and for relations between the two countries? How likely is a Kenya-led security mission to Haiti to receive U.N. authorization?

Jacky Lumarque, rector of the Université Quisqueya in Haiti: “The measures adopted by President Abinader, in particular the military mobilization on the border, in response to the construction of the Haitian canal are hasty, excessive and legally unfounded. These measures, harmful to both economies, hamper the use of a diplomatic arrangement. They will also be ineffective because the construction of the canal has become a fait accompli that no force, internal or external, can stop. It has become a national issue, through a surge of exceptional solidarity mobilizing all segments of the Haitian society, including the Haitian government itself, initially reluctant to follow through on this canal project whose construction was interrupted by the assassination of President Moïse in July 2021. The canal represents an important agricultural lifeline for the Maribahoux plain, made unproductive by drought, contributing to our dependence on Dominican imports. But all in all, it is a trivial project compared to the 11 diversions carried out by the Dominicans on their side on the river. That such a modest public infrastructure project can create…”

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The Inter-American Dialogue publishes the Latin America Advisor every business day for a distinguished membership of informed corporate leaders, scholars, and government officials invested in Latin America’s development and future. The Advisor‘s highly regarded Q&A section covers questions submitted by subscribers themselves. Commentators regularly include heads of state, business leaders, diplomats, economists, analysts, and thought leaders from around the world. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies subscribe to the Advisor. To subscribe click here or for more information, contact Gene Kuleta, editor of the Advisor, at

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