From Thu Sep 12 13:30:11 2002
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 21:07:55 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: [Haitireport] Haiti Report for Sept. 9, 2002 without error!
Article: 144857
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Statement on Haiti’s Environment and Free Trade Zones

Haiti Report, 9 September 2002, prepared by Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center

From GARR and PAPDA (excerpts)

On the occasion of the World Summit on Sustainable Development that began August 26 in South Africa embracing such themes as population and desertification, the Support Group for Refugees and the Repatriated (GARR) and the Platform to Advocate an Alternative Development (PAPDA) take note of the Haitian governments apparent interest in these subjects. However, the GARR and the PAPDA question the governments depth of commitment given that in April 2002 it decided to go ahead with concreting over of the green spaces on the Maribahoux agricultural plain in the north-east border area with a view to setting up a free zone for textile production. In doing so, it has opted for eventual desertification of the area.

Already, in the course of preparations for the projects inauguration ceremony on 8 April 2002, trees were chopped down and fields of maze cleared to create a landing field for the Presidents helicopter.

The GARR and the PAPDA are concerned that the vast project of concreting over the Maribahoux plain is only the first of a long string of free zones that are envisaged along the border, and that will involve systematic deforestation over more than 350km between Ouanaminthe and Anse-a-Pitres in order to establish these industrial zones.

As Haiti is, according to international statistics, the most environmentally damaged country in the Caribbean, the GARR and the PAPDA urge Haitis leaders to reconsider their decision to destroy the fertile Maribahoux plain and other border areas, and instead to prioritize the well being and vital interests of the population which is the essential element in all sustainable human development projects.

The Haitian Dominican border, with its resources of water, vegetation, and varieties of eco-systems, agricultural practices and unique cultures, remains a resource that belongs to the more than 16 million Haitians and Dominicans on this island.

In July, Maxima Pena, an educationalist and coordinator of an annual eco-camp for young Haitians and Dominicans, said, Throwing tons of concrete over the Maribahoux plain in the area of the Massacre River, and installing a textile assembly plant that will probably produce chemical discharge, will have a significant effect on the ecological balance of the area, both in Haiti and the DR.

The GARR and the PAPDA strongly encourage the Haitian government to take into account Article 253 of the Constitution. As the environment is the lifeblood of the population, practices likely to disrupt the ecological balance are strictly prohibited. Colette Lepinasse (GARR) and Camille Chalmers
(PAPDA) 8/29