The Rush to Haiti’s North

Mining_Road_Building_b

Editorial comment

English | French

This article brings to mind the Haitian proverb:

“Li palé fransé!”

Literal meaning: “He is speaking French!”  Real meaning: “He is obfuscating in French!” If I were addressing only Haitians, I could leave at that. But for the benefit of other readers, I will add a bit more.

The following article was illustrated in Le Nouvelliste with original press photos of the Industrial Park at Caracol, the University at Limonade, both under construction, but not a single photo of the mining explorations. Why not?  After all, the mountain range Le Massif du Nord, under exploration, covers about 1/3 of the country’s land area and is difficult to miss. Could this omission be because Haitians, journalist or no, have been banned for years from the areas of mineral exploration?

The Haitian people were last to learn about Haiti’s mineral wealth. If there had been a plan to benefit them, why were they not invited to contribute to this plan?  Why are the legally elected mayors from the northern region being persecuted and the City Halls, where the land titles and other important documents are kept, appropriated by the central government?

The agricultural plans are hardly original and date back to the 1915-1934 U.S. occupation of Haiti.

It is easy to guess what Haiti’s future will be if it continues on this course. For example, in the Dominican Republic, the neighborhoods near the Pueblo Viejo mine, along the same mountain range as in Haiti, have erupted in protest because the mine employs mainly foreigners and pollutes the local waters with massive quantities of cyanide.

Dady Chery, Editor
Haiti Chery

The return of Haitians to the hardships of road building for foreign interests is reminiscent of  the 1915-1934 US occupation of the country. Here Genove Valcimon, 70, poses for a picture as he works on a road being built through the mountains to lead to an exploratory drill site in the department of Trou Du Nord, Haiti, April 10, 2012  (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery).

The Lure of the North

By Roberson Alphonse
Le Nouvelliste

Translated from the French by Dady Chery for Haiti Chery

The acquisition of land in northern Haiti is not as easy as before. In some municipalities, one must pay cash on the spot. People know that the tide has turned, and the North is becoming an important economic center, revealed Andre, a Capois in Port-au-Prince for years. The recent information has fed the rush, said this former member of the Center of Technical Planning and Applied Economics (CTPEA).

Haitians watch as workers build a road through the mountains that will lead to an exploratory drill site in the department of Trou Du Nord, Haiti, on April 10, 2012 (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery).

Non-Haitian drill worker listens for the bit, hundreds of feet underground, during exploratory drilling for minerals and metals in the mountains in the department of Trou Du Nord, Haiti (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery).

“Three companies are working in northern Haiti to draft a feasibility report for exploiting metallic substances, meaning gold, silver and copper,”

confided engineer Dieuseul Anglade, the director of the Office of Mines and Energy (Bureau des Mines et de l’Energie, BME), to our newspaper during an interview.

“These companies, have until June to submit their report,”

he said, but meanwhile, hopes are high.

“Some interesting results suggest that there will be exploitable deposits of gold, silver and copper,”

said Anglade, ever meticulous and prompt to emphasize the difference between exploration permits and operating licenses, to cut short the rumors that whites are plundering our fields.

“Even today, the BME has not issued any license to operate a mining company,”

he insisted, refusing, in passing, to confirm the information made public by a dispatch from the Associated Press (AP) estimating deposits of precious metals in northern Haiti worth US $20 billion.

“I do not confirm these figures. It is common for companies to make such statements to increase the value of their shares on the stock exchange,”

said this official, ever pragmatic and coldly scientific. The Eurasian-Newmont consortium has already spent nearly $25 million in exploratory operations, said Dieuseul Anglade, who did not remember the sums invested by the other two companies: Mining Company of the North-East (Société minière du Nord-Est, SOMINE) and VCS mining.

According Dieuseul Anglade, the outlook is encouraging and the Haitian state, during the negotiations for exploitation, will keep close watch to ensure that the country’s wealth may benefit Haitians.

There is not only gold

The rush to the North is not solely motivated by gold.

“The North is one of four growth areas identified by the Haitian government in its economic development strategy”

confirmed Fritz Jean, former governor of the Haitian National Bank (Banque de la Republique d’Haïti, BRH).

“As designed by the authorities, large areas of investment, due to their spillover effects, will serve as engines for growing the rest of the economy. Four major projects, with differentiated phases of implementation, will strongly influence the production of certain goods and services, and the movements of goods and corporate finance in the north “

assured this expert.

To support this projection, Fritz Jean spoke about a few flagship projects like the construction of the Caracol Industrial Park and the University King Henry 1st in Limonade. Not to mention the IDB’s tourism development project and the USAID’s FTFCN project, said Fritz Jean, who is very involved in development projects in the North.

“The Caracol Industrial Park (PIC), an investment of $276 million, supported by the IDB, the U.S. State Department, with Korean company SaE as its first customer is a trigger project that will mobilize nearly 8,000 employees in its starting phase and reach 40,000 at maturity”

Fritz Jean said, adding that

“The World Bank has allocated a budget of $65 million for tourism development in the North.”

“The University at Limonade, estimated at $ 35 million, will have 72 classrooms, laboratory and library space, and be able to receive nearly 10,000 students in the long term.

“It fills a major gap in higher education in the region, and as outreach, the teachers who will be hired at this university will provide training courses for teachers and perhaps even teach at other institutions of higher education or attend conferences, “

said Fritz Jean, who next explained the importance of a project like “Feed the Future Partnership Northern Corridor (FTFNC).”

“This proposed $75 million project aims to make agriculture more competitive locally and internationally by supporting and strengthening the production chains of critical value. He anticipates an increase in the production of crops such as banana, maize, rice, peas and a doubling of the export of cocoa. The targets include an improvement in the incomes of 40,000 households in a 5-year time frame, and the incubation of several Haitian firms so that they might interface between the funding agency and the Haitian farmers, “

Fritz Jean said.

“Haitian policy makers and international financing institutions, jointly engaged in these initiatives, already anticipate population movements, new forms of land use and the emergence of new industrial and commercial enterprises that will redefine the space between Cap Haitien and Ouanaminthe, sometimes called “The Northern Economic Corridor,”

he said, stressing that it is essential to provide the North infrastructure for effective exploitation of economic opportunities that lead to job creation.

According to Fritz Jean, one must must have a port to meet the needs of the business transactions in the region; an airport to facilitate relations with the rest of the world, for use by emergency people during accident; roads for better traffic of goods and people, electricity to facilitate business development, and improved irrigation infrastructure to increase agricultural productivity.

“In this context, the government anticipates infrastructure investments of about $ 1.8 billion over the next five years to support the agriculture, clothing and textiles. Such interventions permit the anticipation of over 200,000 jobs, “

revealed the former governor of the BRH.

Nesmy Manigat, from Cap au Nord, thinks this not without a downside.

“The economic hub planned for the Far North is increasingly precise. Such an ecosystem has all its elements in equilibrium. The sub-soil, soil, a cultural heritage and tradition of tourism, direct foreign investment, education infrastructure, etc.. “

said Nesmy Manigat, who cautions that

“development is more than adding potentialities or opportunities, it is primarily a regional vision and leadership building.”

“After all, much is still lacking. I mean the human capital required for the recovery of these assets, he insisted, citing the example of the oil-rich Gulf states that understood the need to invest heavily in education, innovation and advanced technologies. “

For Nesmy Manigat

“We must avoid rushing and falling into the trap of urgency, despite our extreme poverty.

“I am optimistic and I have great hope, provided we take the time to plan for long-term results and synchronize our actions well,”

he said, before expressing a fear that the North might become a huge disorganized entity.

“The urgency for me is to finalize the development plan for the area and promote real local SMEs to complete the competitive landscape of these investments now and in the future”

Nesmy Manigat said.

SMEs short of credit

“The main problem is access to credit,”

said Jean Bernard Simonet, owner of Cormier Plage, a few miles from Labadie.

“SMEs play an important role in developing the tourism industry,” said the hotel manager, pleased with the “new business opportunities there in the North.”

However, political instability can block opportunities, said the head of the Tourism Association of Haiti in Cap Haitien.

“There is a wait-related uncertainty. But if Prime Minister Lamothe applies a general policy and those in power manages to restore calm, there will be a rush for investment, despite the difficulties, “

said said Jean Bernard Simonet.

On the other hand, the businessman says one must also be careful.

“In order to be successful, we can make choices that prove unfortunate in the long-term”

he said, taking the example of a $179 million port project in Fort Liberté Bay.

“This is the best place for a port, but it may harm the development of tourism”

notes Simonet, who is favorable to a deep dialogue and policy planning so that one industry does not stifle the other.

Air transport in all this

Olivier Jean, head of Tortug’Air, number one in long-distance inter-urban transport, with some 120,000 passengers a year, believes in the economic boom for the Far North.

“The growth of air transport will be a good indicator of development of this new business area”

noted Olivier Jean, citing the example of Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.

However, Olivier Jean wants another approach in relations between the state and Haitian businesses.

“It’s not normal that Guy Malary airport should be in such a state while so much money was spent to rehabilitate the Toussaint Louverture International Airport,”

Jean Olivier complained, stressing the importance of air transport between cities for the success of country festivals.

The rush to the North is visible. Cap Haitien is experiencing a growth that is threatening the agricultural plains in the periphery. As Port-au-Prince in its time, the cities of North and Northeast … could easily become monsters in Haiti where planning has stopped, warned the incorrigible green militant, conceding his helplessness in the face of huge interests who mock ecological arguments.

“Even if they claim to have carried out environmental impact studies before implementing each project,”

he said with a grin.

ralphonse@lenouvelliste.com

Source: Le Nouvelliste (French) | Haiti Chery (English)

Related:
- Poor Little Rich Haiti to Be Fleeced of Copper-Silver-Gold Via Caracol Deep-Water Port
- Caracol Free-Trade Zone Jeopardizes Natural and Cultural Heritage
- Haiti’s Elected Mayors Dismissed, Illegally Replaced by Presidential Appointees
- Haitian MPs Who Support Mayors’ Dismissal Will Get Community Development Funds

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Comments

The Rush to Haiti’s North — 1 Comment

  1. Mes felicitations pour ce grand et beau travail que vous effectuez. encore bravo! aujourd’hui on est 22 Aout, les resultats que prevenaient m. Anglade sont-ils prets? j’ai bien envie de les connaitres.