Sept. 14, 2022 Updated Wed., Sept. 14, 2022 at 11:47 a.m.
Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader is in Washington this week and he has one issue that is top of mind — Haiti.
The two countries share the island of Hispaniola and ever since last July’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, Abinader has been on a mission to get the United States and others in the international community to do more to address Haiti’s ongoing multidimensional crisis. This includes taking concrete measures to curb migration and supporting a multinational strike force to go in and tackle Haiti’s kidnapping gangs.
Sources familiar with the president’s visit to the Organization of American States on Thursday won’t say much other than he plans to discuss the need for more regional involvement before the hemispheric body. His visit comes ahead of an appearance on Sept. 22 before the United Nations General Assembly, where he is expected to go on the offensive and demand a regional solution to Haiti’s potentially explosive social, economic and political crises.
Haiti’s deepening political instability and gang orchestrated violence, Abinader and his representatives have argued before the OAS and UN, present “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the Dominican Republic’s national security, foreign policy and its economy.”
Despite this, the Dominican Republic has struggled to win support on the international stage for an outside force to go into Haiti and help stabilize the country. In June, the country’s representative to the United Nations called on the UN Security Council to support another U.N. peacekeeping mission to Haiti. Instead, members voted unanimously on to extend the mandate of the U.N. Integrated Office in Haiti. The resolution was drafted by the United States and Mexico, and included a compromise proposed by China to address the illegal sale of arms and munitions to Haitian gangs.
But the agreement doesn’t’ go far enough for the Dominican Republic, which wants a more robust security security plan to address the gang violence and instability.
Last week, Abinader listed the names of a dozen prominent Haitian gang leaders who are not allowed to enter his territory. He also added to the list Haiti’s former foreign minister and interim prime minister, Claude Joseph. The communique warning Dominican immigration officials not to allow Joseph into the country did not explain the reasons for the ban. Dominican officials contacted by the Miami Herald have declined to elaborate.
Joseph, who was prime minister at the time of Moise’s shocking assassination, did not respond to a Herald inquiry about the listing.
The appearance by Abinader at the OAS on Thursday comes as Haiti descends further into chaos An increasing scarcity of fuel, devaluation of the local currency, the gourdes, coupled with higher food prices, a lack of U.S. dollars and an announced price hike on gas, propane and diesel have all helped intensify anti-government tensions this week.
On Tuesday the French Embassy announced it was closing its doors until further notice. Later that evening, Spain’s embassy also announced that given the demonstrations in Port-au-Prince its embassy will remain closed on Wednesday.
In June, the Dominican’s representative to the United Nations, Ambassador José Blanco Conde, told the United Nations Council meeting a new peacekeeping mission was needed for Haiti. Then, last month as Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Victor Généus, laid out the challenges being faced by interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry during a special session of the OAS, the Dominican Republic responded that what the world was watching a “terrible spiral of violent chaos.”
“Kidnappings, massacres, murders, and the control imposed by armed gangs on some territories,” Josué Fiallo, the Dominican Republic’s representative to the OAS, said, adding “the progressive deterioration and instability afflicting Haiti undermine the dignity of all its people, regional security and the shared values of solidarity and cooperation.”
He acknowledged the historical tensions between the two countries, including a 1937 massacre of thousands of Haitians and dark-skinned Dominicans, ongoing deportations and the retroactive stripping of citizenship from anyone born after 1929 who doesn’t have one parent of Dominican blood. Nonetheless, Fiallo said, “we want to be optimistic and see this crisis as an opportunity to move forward.”
“It is urgent to collaborate with your government to restore security, stabilize Haiti, address the humanitarian crisis, promote democracy, and demonstrate commitment to all the values of this organization.” he said. “If no action is taken, the multidimensional crisis will deepen.”
The intervention at the OAS comes after Secretary General Luis Almagro accused the international community of abandoning Haiti and being responsible for its ongoing crises due to decisions taken over the past 20 years.
In a follow-up meeting requested by Haiti, representatives of several countries in the hemisphere disagreed with the assessment and defended their support over decades. Canada’s representative, Hugh Adsett, specifically took issue with Almagro’s criticism and told him he should be more of a mediator than a critic where Haiti is concerned.
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