The Dominican Republic’s president, Luis Abinader, in Dajabón as construction begins on the wall that will span nearly half the 244-mile border with Haiti. Photograph: Reuters

BROOKLYN — Organizations working on Haiti and Dominican Republic issues criticized the wall being built on the border between the two countries.

“We oppose any wall-building initiative in any part of the world, but specifically in the Dominican Republic,” said William Charpentier, coordinator of the National Coalition for Migrations and Refugees, a Dominican Republic-based nonprofit that works on migration issues.

[“A] binational project for environmental protection and channeling of the Pedernales river is better than a wall,” said Guitho Laguerre, a participant at the Transborder Dialogue Table. 

The group aims to advance dialogue among stakeholders on both sides. Laguerre is also coordinator of the agriculture cooperative Cooperation des Planteurs Reunis a Lamontagne de Jacmel in Anse-å-Pitres, a Haitian town on the southern part of the border.

A 14-mile segment of the border wall was started in 2019 during the Danilo Medina administration. All together, the wall is expected to cost about US $30 million to build, according to hoy.com.do, a Dominican news site.

This new phase, which aims to cover half of the 243-mile border, is one of a series of immigration initiatives the Abinader administration has promoted recently. Other measures include issuing Border Resident permits to grant Haitians living near the border one-day permit to conduct business and an attempt to regulate undocumented Haitian workers.

The wall is being built to tackle trafficking, drug, contraband and illegal migration to Dominican Republic and will take 9 months to be built, according to a report by euronews.com.

Some who have heard Abinarer’s rationale for building the border wall said the structure may not be effective. 

“I think the government wants to build the wall right now because of the insecurity in Haiti,” said Antonio Michel Feliz, coordinator at the Dominican Haitian Human Rights Committee, a nonprofit in Barahona, that offers training, legal advice and rights awareness classes to migrants, most of them Haitian.

“I think, short or long term, this will bring many conflicts,” Feliz said.

William Charpentier, coordinator at the National Coalition for Migrations and Refugees believes that in reality the wall “will increase people trafficking costs, and of weapons and organs trafic.” ‘

He added that the wall is part of a racial and economic strategy for the DR government to pay “miserable wages to migrant workers, and so they don’t advocate for their rights.”

Leonardo March is Brooklyn-based visual journalist from Puerto Rico. In a previous life Leonardo was a photographer and graphic designer, skills he’s refocusing to cover the Haitian Diaspora in the US. Leonardo can be reached at Leonardo@haitiantimes.com

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1 Comment

  1. Walls make for good neighbors. Haitians need to seize this opportunity and truly seal that border. Close the parts thar DR and the International want to keep open to dump dominican goods in Haiti.

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