Dominican Republic gives final push to its border fence with Haiti

President Luis Abinader announced earlier this year that the project would be completed in two years, and recent events in Haiti have only increased his concern about insecurity in that country. Relations between the two neighbors have been historically difficult, marked by xenophobia.

Following the political turmoil of recent weeks in Haiti, the Dominican Republic is moving ahead with plans to build a fence along its border with Haiti, which stretches some 236 miles (376 kms).

President Luis Abinader announced the project earlier this year and said the barrier would help curb illegal immigration, drugs and the flow of stolen vehicles between the two countries, which share the island of Hispaniola. Abinader promised that it would be completed in two years, although budget details have not yet been made public.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last week, Abinader expressed grave concern about insecurity in Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on 7 July.

“Since we assumed power, we have been announcing the possibility that the Haitian situation could spill over the borders of that country, impacting as a factor of insecurity in the region,” he said. “Hence, the need for this community of nations to urgently assume once and for all, the Haitian crisis as one of the highest priority and permanent monitoring,” he added.

Political unrest, increased violence and kidnappings have aggravated an already dire economic situation in Haiti.

Abinader called for “urgent” action by the international community to help Haiti. “Given the current division that exists among the Haitian leadership, and the dangerous presence of criminal gangs that control a good part of its territory, Haitians alone will not be able to pacify their country, much less guarantee the conditions to establish a minimum of order,” he said.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met on Tuesday in Washington with Dominican Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez, although the nature of the talks was not disclosed. Blinken applauded some of the reforms undertaken by the Dominican Republic “to encourage greater transparency and promote the rule of law,” referring to Abinader’s much-publicized efforts to tackle corruption.

“Of course, we will have the opportunity to talk about Haiti and what we can do together to help find lasting solutions to the challenges facing the Haitian people,” he added.

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