Local December 16, 2014 | 7:56 am

Dominican Republic braces as Haiti political crisis spirals

Santo Domingo.- Haiti’s political crisis on Monday prompted Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to step down, as concern grips its Hispaniola neighbor Dominican Republic, which braces for a possible stampede of undocumented aliens and slump in cross-border trade.

Dominican authorities suspended the bi-national market at Dajabon (northwest) on fear of attacks on merchants, while the Defense Ministry heightened security, adding 1,800 soldiers to the patrols along the 370 kilometer border.

Defense minister Máximo Muñoz told reporters that the border is secure, especially during the holiday season when many Haitians return home.

Quoted by elcaribe.com.do, Government Ethics director Marino Vinicio Castillo warned that an unstable Haiti poses a threat to the country, citing its convergence of criminal groups and Port-au-Prince’s political class in disarray.

Former Haiti ex-consul Edwin Paraison said his country’s political crisis shouldn’t affect the work of the Joint Bilateral Commission and noted that progress depends on more talks.

The diplomat, who heads the Zile Foundation, said there’s no way to measure the consequences of Haiti’s current internal crisis in the short term, aside from Dajabón’s market, hobbled by violent protests in the Haiti town of Ouanaminthe last week. "In more complex times, even during the 1994 embargo and the 2010earthquake, trade was maintained or expanded."

As to a possible stampede of Haitian immigrants into the Dominican Republic, the former diplomat said experience shows that such an avalanche can only occur if armed groups stage major clashes or if the government headed by president Michel Martely persecutes civilians who oppose it.

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