Hurricane Matthew destroyed not only what little infrastructure the south west of Haiti had, but it also heavily damaged the country's diplomatic relations with its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, with whom it shares the island of Hispaniola. Haiti's interim president, Jocelerme Privert, just recently thanked the Dominican government's efforts in distributing food in a secure setting to the victims of the deadliest disaster the country has suffered since 2010, chastising the senatorial cabal who want animosity with the Dominican Republic even if it means perpetuating the suffering of the Haitian masses.
|Ready to invade Haiti? Hoy|
In immediately yielding to the requests of the Haitian Senate, even as the country's interim president welcomed Dominican assistance, the Dominican government showed just how deeply it respects the wishes of Haitian authorities. Nonetheless, the fact that uniformed Dominican soldiers accompanied the 500-truck aid convoy to provide protection is all the evidence the Haitian far-right needed to convince itself that the Dominican army was not only willing to invade Haiti, but that even the interim president is part of a conspiracy to hand over the country to the Spanish-speaking government in Santo Domingo.
The members of the Haitian Senate who called for the exit of Dominican troops from Haitian soil have raised their political profile, and the current candidates for president have all been forced to comment publicly, with only one, Jude Celestin, defending the shipment of aid by the country's historical foe.
The very hurricane that led to the current geopolitical crisis also forced the postponement of Haiti's presidential elections, which will now be held under an intense wave of anti-Dominican sentiment that could set the stage for an eventual military conflict in the Caribbean.
Some members of the Haitian far-right even allege that the Dominican government somehow engineered or directed the flow of Hurricane Mathew so as to facilitate an invasion, with the occupation of the country guaranteed should another superstorm be steered towards the country.
Owing to the level of fragmentation which currently affects Haitian society, there is a very palpable fear in Santo Domingo that this current misunderstanding could lead to a fringe Haitian group seeking retaliation for Dominican soldiers "violating" Haitian soil.
Although Haiti's status as a failed state with a poor education system means that unfounded rumors can spread wildly and quickly set deep roots which cannot be easily ripped out, this does not mean that the Dominican people are immune from engaging in mob action based on conspiracy theories. Members of the Dominican far right are convinced that multiple members of the country's military have been assaulted and kidnapped in Haiti, with the government covering it up so that the President of the Republic can save face.
There's deep suspicion on both sides of the island, and the upcoming elections could see an escalation in rhetoric that leads to actual kidnappings and assaults, potentially smashing to smithereens what little trust exists between two peoples forced to co-exist despite enormous differences. When that last bit of trust is washed away, the bloodshed that may follow could make it almost impossible to regain peace in our lifetimes.