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“First We’ve Heard of It”: Dominican Government Denies All Knowledge of Canada’s DR-based Haiti Aid Plan.

Dominican Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez has said his government has ‘not discussed, agreed or granted any authorisation’ for a Canada-led Haitian aid office on its territory [File: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters Pool]

By Editor-June 17th, 2023.

Dominican Republic authorities have expressed surprise over talk of a proposal for a Canadian-led “joint security coordination cell” located in the Dominican Republic, as part of an effort to address to reinforce the  Haitian National Police and restore order in Haiti, which is overrun with criminal gangs.

Dominican Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez said he knew nothing about any agreement to host a Canadian office in the country, which was pitched as a site from which to coordinate international aid and offer support to Haiti’s police.

“The Dominican Government confirms that it has not discussed, agreed or granted any authorisation for the installation in our territory of an office to coordinate support for the Haitian National Police, as indicated by information from the Canadian media,” Alvarez said in a tweet that was re-posted by the country’s Ministry of External Relations.

His words come in response to an announcement from Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, made during a Thursday ministerial meeting.

“This cell will enhance international efforts in security assistance, working closely with the Haitian National Police and the United Nations to foster a sustainable environment for long-term peace and security in Haiti,” Joly wrote afterwards on social media.

The “joint security coordination cell” was part of a package of support Canada revealed on Thursday, including $13m in aid for development and anti-crime efforts.

Joly also underscored her country’s commitment to a “Haitian-led solution to the crisis”, likely anticipating criticism of foreign intervention in the Caribbean nation.

Haiti has been contending with a series of setbacks in recent years, from natural disasters to political disarray and gang violence.

The country currently has no democratically elected government after the country’s last senators saw their terms expire in January. Acting President Ariel Henry had been selected to serve as prime minister by former President Jovenel Moise, shortly before his assassination in 2021.

But countries like Canada and the US have been reluctant to lead an international force to Haiti, and many Haitians have criticised the prospect of foreign intervention as well.

In a statement on Friday, Homero Figueroa, spokesperson for Dominican President Luis Abinader, acknowledged those concerns, reiterating that his government had not agreed to any joint initiative with Canada.

“For historical reasons, the Dominican Republic cannot participate in any initiative that commits it to carry out direct actions in Haiti,” he said.

Souces: EFE, Al Jazeera, Swiss info, news agencies.