Status Quo Side: Haiti
Non-Status Quo Side: Dominican Republic
Region: Western Hemisphere
Conflict Type: Interstate
Issues in Dispute: Strategic
Foreign hostility to the Haitian regime ruled by Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, and expectations of an internal revolt, were heightened after President Duvalier acted to end open rivalry between the army and the thuggish "Tonton Macoute" palace guard by forcibly retiring 63 leading army officers. Those not arrested sought refuge in foreign embassies. After a reported attempt on the lives of Duvalier's children, two Haitian police entered the Dominican Republic embassy in Port-au-Prince on April 26, seized 22 Haitians as alleged assassins and refused to leave without them.
DR President Juan Bosch threatened invasion unless the police withdrew. An OAS mission arrived April 30. By May 2, 4,000 DR troops were at the border, gunfire was heard through Port-au-Prince and a US naval force stood offshore. The DR agreed to defer action pending the OAS report. On May 3 Duvalier declared martial law and on May 6 in the UNSC charged the DR with aggression. DR troops began pulling back on May 13. By July 16 Duvalier declared all internal resistance ended. A new crisis occurred when Haitian exiles invaded from the DR on August 5 and 18, prompting renewed OAS mediation and UN debate. On September 23 the DR accused Haiti in the OAS and UN of bombarding the Dominican town of Dajabon. Subsequently the DR, having determined the facts, withdrew its charges.
With the deposition of President Bosch by a coup and with Duvalier firmly in control in Haiti, the episode ended.
Even long after the dictatorships of Duvalier father and son, relations between the French and Spanish speaking neighbors on the island of Hispaniola remained cool. June 1998 saw the first visit to Haiti in 70 years of a Dominican Republic president. Agreements were signed on tourism, taxation, postal service and cultural exchanges.
Copyright © 1999 Lincoln P. Bloomfield and Allen Moulton