In 2018, Haiti embarked on a large-scale project: the canalization of the Massacre River. However, this initiative quickly turned controversial, becoming the source of heated diplomatic tensions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The initial goal of this ambitious project was to provide irrigation to over 3,000 hectares of the fertile Maribahoux Plain. However, its implementation proved to be a challenging endeavor fraught with disagreements.
The original project plan highlighted a critical point: the canal, primarily constructed from rock and gabion, would not be able to indefinitely contain the water. This limitation immediately raised concerns about water management and potential environmental risks.
The Cuban firm DINVAl was tasked with carrying out this colossal undertaking. Yet, the controversy extended beyond technical aspects. The construction of the canal quickly evolved into a politically and diplomatically charged issue.
The government of the Dominican Republic strongly criticized the decision of authorities in Ouanaminthe, Haiti, to build this canal, fearing it could have adverse effects on their own territory. In response, the Dominican Republic imposed sanctions on Haiti, including border closures and the suspension of visa issuance.
This escalation of tensions between the two neighboring countries has raised concerns at both regional and international levels. Environmental experts have also voiced worries about the potential consequences of the Massacre River canalization on local ecosystems and riverine populations.