Dear Haiti Friends,

Several of you have asked about the closing of the Haiti-DR border and the dispute over canal construction.  Below is today’s issue of the Haitian Times with some articles about the conflict.  I do not know a lot of details, but have gleaned the following from various sources:

Haiti and the DR agreed to the building of a canal in the north which would assure approximately 40% of the water flow from the Massacre River for the use of Haitian farmers.  The Haitian government began the project under President Moise, but work ceased after his assassination.

In the absence of a government which can continue the project at the moment, local farmers have started work on the canal themselves, possibly not adhering to best practices in controlling flow, flood control, etc.

The DR has closed the borders, possibly to force the Haitian farmers to cease their canal-building work, possibly to appease anti-immigration voices concerned about Haitians fleeing to the DR, possibly to give them other leverage in their often-troubled relationship with Haiti.

According to one of the articles I have read, the Dominican Republic exports more than $1 billion (that’s with a “b”) worth of goods to Haiti annually, mostly food items.  Haiti exports about $11 million in the opposite direction.  The DR government is currently paying its farmers for their lost sales of perishable items (vegetables, eggs) but it is not clear how long this might continue.  For economic reasons, I would imagine that either the closure will not be lengthy or the border will be informally “porous” in some spots. 

And that may all be wrong!  But now you know what I know.