Dominicans to Allow Patrols of Border With Haiti
Officials from the Dominican Republic said Tuesday that they have reached an agreement allowing an international force to patrol the country’s border and prevent smuggling of fuel and other goods into Haiti.
U.S. and Dominican officials said the mission will include more than 80 civilian and military personnel from the United States, Canada, Argentina and Brazil, expected to arrive within two weeks. Brazil, however, later denied that it will help staff the force.
In Washington, the Defense Department said it will supply six helicopters to be flown by Dominican Republic pilots.
It will also send the Dominican Republic 50 trucks, 45 motorcycles, six inflatable boats and 106 radios for the operation, the department said.
Pentagon spokesman Dennis Boxx said the international force will not stop the smugglers but rather report them to Dominican Republic border authorities.
Smuggling of fuel across the nations’ border is considered a major reason for the failure of a U.N. economic embargo to force the ouster of Haiti’s military leaders.
News of the agreement came as President Joaquin Balaguer was declared winner of the Dominican Republic’s May presidential election, which critics said was riddled with fraud. Balaguer was reelected by a margin of less than 1% over opposition candidate Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, the Central Elections Board said.
By constitutional mandate, the elections board had to declare a winner before inauguration day, scheduled for Aug. 16.