Leave it up to nature to erase (at least temporarily) man-made divisions. Unfortunately, the latest episode of flooding of Sumatre (Azuei Lake) along the Haiti-Dominican border has left a deplorable share of destruction.
Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture’s historical statement “the island is one and indivisible” as the pretext for his troops to invade the eastern portion of Hispaniola island in 1821 materializes 200 years later, at least at the southwest border. The swelling Sumatre (Azuei Lake) has erased the line dividing Haiti and Dominican Republic, as their waters submerged the marker pyramids built along the border points between the two nations, with only number 239 still visible. The lake also threatens the villages “La 39 and La 40”, two communities of Haitians in Dominican territory, where inhabitants live off the sale of the charcoal they take to Haitian territory aboard sailboats.
The swelling of Azuei’s 115 square kilometers has also destroyed plantations of Dominican farmers and threatens to spread to communities as far away as Tierra Nueva. Since last year its waters had washed out the highway which links the town Jimaní with Haitian territory, which prompted the Dominican government, with the support by local businesses, to raise the highway nearly two meters. Across the border the Haitian authorities did the same. But the lake still grows and has submerged the Customs, Immigration, Agriculture Ministry and the offices of other Dominican government agencies.
[. . .] The lake’s continuing growth is forcing [a] second transfer of the government agencies, now being built on the higher grounds south of Jimaní, where Caribe Tours and Terra Bus also erect their terminals, in addition to others that ply the Port-au-Prince transport route. The Dominican Government also provided lands for many Haitian vendors to build their warehouses or install their containers to transport merchandise to Port-au-Prince.
Further into Dominican territory there’s also the concern that the water of Azuey, located 55 meters above Enriquillo Lake, will eventually reach the basin hastening its swelling, blamed on the soil’s lack of moisture retention, lost to decades of rampant deforestation.