PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (sentinel.ht) – The arrival Friday of 1,500 Dominican soldiers in the Haitian territory following the passage of Hurricane Matthew has sparked outrage and heightening indignation among the Haitian population leery of an attempt by the Hispanic nation to invade and occupy the land of Dessalines.
The controversy prompted the Haitian Minister of Foreign affairs, Pierre Dulienne, to make a statement essentially denying the presence of Dominican troops, but later he was forced to confirm it after Senator Youri Latortue made a personal visit to the old Haitian Navy Base at Bizoton where the foreign army had stationed.
According to the Head of the 500-truck Dominican convoy, Ramón Antonio Pepín, the Dominican Chief of Staff of Public Works, their presence is “purely a humanitarian mission”. The convoy is carrying hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid and infrastructure rebuilding equipment that could assist in bridge and road rebuilding. Pepín added that the goal of the mission was to give “a hand to those affected by the hurricane”. Despite the declaration, politicians and private citizens alike have expressed their distaste with the Dominican “hand”.
Senate President Ronald Larèche declared his indignation with the “hand” adding he had no understanding of the contours of the measure. He refused to believe “rumors”, as he called it, that would lead one to believe that an agreement was signed between the Dominican President Danilo Medina and interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert – who met Wednesday for two hours on the tarmac of Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince. Lareche said he did not believe the Privert-Jean-Charles government would take such a national security and political risk.
Faced with such hostilities and growing rumors, the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Port-au-Prince published a statement that was signed by Ambassador Ruben Sillie Valsez:
It is very regrettable that on both sides of the island, there still exists people who persist to sell the fantasy of the Trojan horse to intimidate and produce fear in their respective populations…
We launch an appeal to the evil minds to show respect to the Haitian people who are suffering from the effects of the hurricane. We invite them at the same time to learn to recognize the true gestures of friendship. – Ruben Sillie Valdez
Although three U.S. naval ships and 5,000 U.S. Marines had entered Haitian waters and the territory for humanitarian assistance, it remained a “no, thank you” from the majority of the Haitian population to the Dominican assistance – even into Saturday as the Dominican aid had begun being distributed and seemingly welcomed by those who suffered the brunt of Hurricane Matthew along the southwestern peninsula of Haiti.
Official figures show that 1,410,774 persons are in need in Haiti. 546 are report dead, 128 are missing and 439 are injured. 175,500 persons are living in 224 shelters.
As of Sunday morning, President Jocelerme Privert and Prime Minister Enex Jean Charles had not responded to the rumors of the Dominican invasion and ignored the letters sent to the National Palace and Prime Ministry by lawmakers requesting clarity and action.