Dominican Republic - Foreign policy



A small country with little strategic significance to the world's great powers, the Dominican Republic has been able to stay out of most major international conflicts. Since the country lies within the U.S. sphere of influence and receives most of its foreign aid from the United States, good relations with its powerful neighbor have been a cornerstone of its foreign policy. Mejía hopes to continue the close relation the two nations have, and in September of 2002 urged President Bush to include the Dominican Republic in free trade talks along with five other Central American nations.

Relations with neighboring Haiti have long been strained. Former Dominican Republic President Fernández was beset by problems with Haiti. Haiti's president refused to attend Fernández's inauguration due to events that happened during the 1996 election, when about half a million Dominicans of Haitian descent were prevented from voting in the first round, and thousands of black "illegal immigrants" were deported before the polling took place. The relationship with Haiti has improved during the Mejía administration. Haiti's president Jean Bertrand Aristide and President Mejía decided to work together on the verification of border markers in 2001.

In October 2001, Mejía announced a plan to harden the punishment against money laundering, and to coordinate efforts with other Caribbean countries to combat illicit activity.

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