The Dominican Republic announced on Monday it suspended the issuance of visas to citizens of Haiti and is also considering the closure of borders between the two nations following a conflict over water access. This issue stems from a contentious situation involving Haiti’s construction of a canal.The corresponding directive was issued by the President of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader. It has come to light that Haiti intends to construct a canal that could potentially divert water from the Dajabón River. The river holds paramount importance within the Dominican Republic, playing a crucial role in its economy and agriculture. Its sources sustain the uninterrupted growth of coffee, cocoa, tobacco, and support the operations of certain factories.The statement asserts that if the conflict is not resolved by Thursday, trade involving air, land, and water routes will be completely closed off. As the island is singular, negotiations over shared resources such as rivers require collaborative efforts from both countries. The Dominican Republic, however, has stated that individual Haitian citizens are acting unilaterally, carrying out construction without coordination with local authorities. In the comprehensive statement, the Dominican Republic suggested that the official Haitian government may be unable to maintain control due to the influence of criminal organizations purportedly thriving in the region. According to some researchers, Haiti has witnessed a surge in banditry and criminal organizations, which has been particularly pronounced following the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Moreover, federal elections have not been held in recent years, allowing these organizations to further consolidate their power on the island. As per United Nations assessments at the end of the previous year, more than half of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, is unofficially controlled by criminal gangs. Should the Dominican Republic indeed carry out its threat to sever economic relations, it would have a devastating impact on Haiti. The country is heavily dependent on imports from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic would also suffer from its own actions, as per estimates from the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic in 2017, the volume of trade amounted to approximately $430 million, with only $330 million earned through exports to Haiti.

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