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The crisis in Haiti is one of the main issues of Sunday’s elections in the Dominican Republic

  • May 16, 2024
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Migration and the future of Haiti are among the main issues of Sunday’s presidential and legislative elections in the Dominican Republic.

The issue: The island’s restrictive migration policies have regional implications as many Haitians try to flee violence.

The three main presidential candidates agree on the need to restrict the flow of Haitians through Dominican territory. President Luis Abinader should be re-elected and avoid a second round, because he is widely favored in the pollsfollowed by former president Leonel Fernández and former mayor Abel Martínez.

Abinader’s government began building a wall on the border with Haiti, increased deportations and suspended visas to Haitians last fall. While these measures are popular among Dominicans, they have been criticized by international organizations who consider them human rights violations.

More than 8 million Dominicans – around 10% of whom live abroad – are registered to vote, according to the electoral body. In previous elections, turnout averaged 70%.

The Dominican Republic “has been a strong democratic society for many years and, to the extent that this continues to be the case, it contrasts with other jurisdictions such as Venezuela, an hour’s flight away, or Nicaragua, also very close,” said Luis Fortuño, former governor of Puerto Rico.

Mr. Fortuño will be one of the international observers of the Dominican elections.

Before his first term, Mr. Abinader promised to ease the country’s harsh restrictions on abortion. Activists hope he will keep his word if re-elected to a second term, even though he has not addressed the issue.

Since the start of the year, at least two people, Adlika Féliz and Cristal Peguero, 13, have died after being denied a safe abortion, according to their families and abortion rights advocates.