Dominican Republic cracks down on borders amid chaos in Haiti


HAVANA—As mass migrants flee Haiti, island neighbor Dominican Republic responds with stronger border policies and military build-up, with government claiming it will “guarantee border security” .

On Sunday, Dominican President Luis Avinader announced the country’s largest purchase of military equipment since 1961. 6 helicopters, 10 aircraft, 21 armored vehicles and 4 riot trucks.

If international forces were sent in response to the Haitian government’s request for assistance to the gang, “we would close and block our borders… Receiving asylum seekers within the country would be extremely dangerous to the integrity of the Dominican Republic.” is,” Abinader said. Press conference.

Dominican officials also said they would consider even stricter immigration controls at the Haitian border in the future.

Tensions have long boiled over between the two countries that share a border of more than 240 miles on the island of Hispaniola.

Haiti’s crisis is exacerbated by the 2021 assassination of former Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, and gangs are gaining strength to confront a weakened government. It has spurred mass flight of migrants, and the Dominican Republic has become increasingly tough on immigration and border policies.

The Dominican Republic has also started building a Trump-style wall along its border.

Dominican Republic Haiti
Dominican soldiers close the border gate for a Haitian man trying to cross to Dajabon, Dominican Republic, November 19, 2021. (Matias Delacroix/AP Photo)

One of Haiti’s most powerful gangs and anti-government protesters have besieged Port-au-Prince’s main fuel supply, leaving not only fuel but also water and other basic supplies. Abinadel has previously described the turmoil in Haiti as a “low-intensity civil war.”

As a result, the UN Security Council is considering a request by the Haitian government to send foreign troops to crush the gangs, or at least to ease the blockade.

For many Dominicans, like Paterno Valenzuela, the disorder has fueled concerns that gang violence could permeate their country.

Valenzuela, 56, a farmer along the border town of Elias Spina, says she hasn’t seen an increase in violence in her area, but says, “This crisis in Haiti is really bad, so we’re prepared.” increase.

A Dominican farmer said he had seen large groups of migrants fleeing the country and up the mountains, and expressed concern about an increase in smuggled goods such as gasoline flowing across the border. He said he would support foreign intervention if it happened.

soldiers patrol the border
Soldiers patrol the border in Elias Spina, Dominican Republic, on the border with Veradale, Haiti, March 5, 2021. (Du Nario Shelley/AP Photo)
Associated Press