| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Dominican Republic, Canada disagree over Haitian police aid office

As Haiti’s police battle to restrain powerful armed gangs, a dispute between the Dominican Republic and Canada erupted in public on Friday, complicating an international plan to beef up Haiti’s under-resourced police force.

A day after Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly revealed intentions to open a Canadian office in the adjacent Dominican Republic this summer to coordinate help for Haiti’s national police, her Dominican counterpart denied any agreement permitting an office on Dominican territory.


In a post on social media, Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez said no deal been struck, adding that the Dominican government has not even discussed such a plan.

In a subsequent statement to Reuters, Canada’s foreign ministry said it continues to work with 20 countries and international organizations to strengthen the Haitian police and boost security, pointing to ongoing talks “to finalize a location that will support the group’s work in geographical proximity to Haiti.”

The statement did not say whether the location would be in the Dominican Republic, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

Haitian-Dominican relations have long been strained. Since gang violence escalated last year in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Santo Domingo has stepped up border security and deported tens of thousands fleeing the crisis back to Haiti.

On Thursday, Joly announced plans to coordinate a police support operation from a base in the Dominican Republic and thanked Alvarez for providing it, according to a transcript from a Canadian government official.

Since last year, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has called for an international force to rein in the gangs. The groups now control large parts of the country, which has fueled a humanitarian crisis that has displaced tens of thousands of Haitians.

The United States has pushed Canada to take a leading role, but to date no country has offered to lead an international force.

  • Reuters