Dominican Far-Right Group Calls for Construction of "Deforestation Barrier" between DR and Haiti

Building a wall is too controversial, but who can argue against reforestation? In June of 2013, the Washington Post, in its article -- With Golan fence, Israel closer to surrounding itself with barriers -- reported: "Last year [2012,] Israel counted more than 10,000 illegal migrants — mostly poor refugees from Sudan and Eritrea — entering from Egypt. With the completion of the Sinai fence, the incursions have dropped to the single digits; only two people were captured last month."

Inspired by Israeli successes, Dominican authorities have started the acquisition of drones, in addition to previous arrangements with the United States Department of Homeland Security. In 2014, I wrote: "After the attacks of September the 11th, the United States feared that hordes of Islamic extremists influenced by Al-Qaeda would try to infiltrate the Homeland through friendly, neighboring countries. To prevent Al-Qaeda from exploiting Haiti's status as a failed state to infiltrate the Dominican Republic and later the US, Washington helped create CESFRONT, militarizing the Dominican border in a manner described by Todd Miller as an 'overlooked manifestation of U.S. imperial policy in the post-9/11 era.' CESFRONT has such a close relationship with the US Border Patrol, that it maintains an office in the US embassy.'"

Just last year, representative Vinicio Castillo Seman submitted a proposal to Congress to build a wall between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Castillo Seman is the heir to the throne of the most powerful political family in the conservative spectrum. Vinicio's father, Vincho -- a powerful political-appointee dating back to the Trujillo Era [1930-1961] -- defended his son in the public arena, arguing that: "Monchy Fadul [Minister of the Interior Police] needed to take an active role in the fight against the gathering of firewood in the borderlands."

The Vinchos -- as they are popularly called -- are playing up the biggest Dominican fear: deforestation. After the death of Dictator Rafael Trujillo, his vice-president, Joaquin Balaguer, took power for 12 continuous years. Balaguer, who is the only blind, octogenarian-environmental-strongman the modern world has seen, was heavily inspired by his sister to institute extensive environmental policies. In 1996, the New York Times wrote: "Neither of the octogenarian strongmen who have dominated Dominican politics since the 1950's was on the ballot. Recent constitutional changes prohibit President Joaquin Balaguer, who is 89 and in his seventh term of office, from succeeding himself; his lifetime rival, Juan Bosch, 86, has been sidelined by old age and illness." 

Nuclear energy is banned in the Dominican Republic, and the act of chopping down a tree could have been considered a crime against the state. Just last month, the Dominican Minister of the Environment unveiled highly-sophisticated drones, which are to be tasked with protecting parks and forest areas from "fires and unlawful occupation." The first phase of operations will take place in Los Haitises National Park -- a platform karst dating back to the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period. 

The Dominican government is yet to reveal whether the acquisition of drones will be expanded, but there is a very real likelihood that every single forest in the Dominican Republic will be under drone surveillance by 2020. The Dominican Republic is the world's 7th most-affected country by global warming, leading to common panic in the media whenever pine trees are cut en masse by bandits. 

El Nacional
Miguel Abreu [no known relation,] an eco-guide in Constanza, decried to El Caribe newspaper, one of the major papers in the country, that: "What's taking place here is the indiscriminate extermination of pine trees, hundreds of acres, and they supposedly have permits from Santo Domingo."

Victor Puntiel, the Environmental Minister from Constanza, rebutted Miguel Abreu, arguing that: "Chopping down 200-500 trees is in accord with the law." Notwithstanding, hundreds of residents of the small town -- known as the Alps of the Caribbean due to its high elevation and year-round cool temperatures -- marched in angry protest, shouting that "33% of pine trees" had been "culled."

Protesters shouted "enough is enough!" and asked for the resignation of Minister Bautista Rojas. Framan Garcia, a protest organizer, told El Caribe newspaper: "Criminal hands are executing their indolent, unpardonable act of indiscriminate logging at a large scale... the depredation also affects rivers, with the extraction of sand, which is provoking the climate to become unbearable and life itself to deteriorate at an accelerated rhythm."

Humberto Collado, a powerful union leader, argued that if deforestation were not stopped: "Future generations will live in an arid, terrible desert."

With powerful rhetoric and popular backing, "reforestation" will soon be accelerated in the Dominican Republic. Drones will be utilized not only to keep a watchful eye over the "borderlands forest," but also to plant it.