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A move is under way by rich foreigners and diaspora Haitians to appropriate every beachfront, lakefront and waterway in Haiti. Northern Haiti’s beachfront communities are the areas most vulnerable to land grabs. Prices have skyrocketed along with the expectation that American and Canadian mining executives will soon want the best island scenery money can buy.
Not all land grabs are executed the same way. In places like La Visite and Martissant, which are principally populated by the poor, people are beaten, imprisoned without trial, or killed. In other spots where there is a substantial Haitian middle class to be reckoned with, the strategy is to cut all government services. Electricity, municipal water, and road repairs are becoming a thing of the past in some of the most beautiful cities.
There is no recourse. The central government has replaced all the popular elected municipal administrators with presidential appointees, some of whom are actively wanted criminals.
The article below about ongoing protests in Port Margot — a town of 46,000 people about 35 km (22 miles) from Cap Haitien — is followed by a telling description of the town’s assets by its own excellent development organization founded in 2007.
By Dady Chery, Editor
Tension in Port Margot for a week
By staff (srh kft rc)
Translated from the French by Dady Chery, Haiti Chery
Port-au-Prince, Haiti – Residents of Port-Margot (North), including, in the village of ‘’Fauché’’ continue to demand the paving of the road section linking Limbe with Port-Margot (9 km) and to denounce the finding that the rehabilitation of the road between Port Margot and Borgne began in Borgne and not in their municipality.
“All government offices in the area are closed,”
former city government member Gary Beliard told AlterPresse on August 13.
Borgne / Port-Margot Member of Parliament Jude Charles Faustin believes that the situation is getting increasingly violent. He deplores the fact that no Port-Margot organization or citizens’ group has been contacted to discuss the problem.
The Port-Margot / Borgne road is blocked with vehicles, tire barricades and felled trees. People continue to believe that this method is the best way to be heard.
Port-Margot is between Limbe and Borgne, in the north of the country.
On one hand, the protesters demand the paving of the 9-kilometer (5.6 miles) road that connects Port-Margot to Limbe.
On the other hand, they want the rehabilitation of the 16-kilometer (10 miles) Borgne / Port-Margot road (currently underway with funding from the Interamerican Development Bank) to starts from their municipality in Port-Margot.
MP Faustin claims to have already reported the problem to the government and says that Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe responded that the government lacks sufficient means to pave the 9 kilometers of roads.
The head of government estimates that the work would cost US $ 9 million (U.S. $ 1.00 = 43.00 gourdes gourds 1 euro = 58.00 today), according to MP Faustin.
The Port-Margot residents’ discontent started when the authorities decided to put the beach,”Chouchou Bay” under the jurisdiction of Borgne, although it was previously under Port-Margot.
Beach “Chouchou Bay” is in the fifth communal section of Port Margot, neighboring Borgne.
Borgne / Port-Margot MP Jude Charles Faustin is fingered in the case by the protesters and demonstrators.
MP Faustin believes that since the last parliamentary elections in 2011, his opponents have tried to maintain pressure on him with this issue.
He says he informed the Ministry of Interior and Local Authorities, who promised to send a delegation to meet with the population.
However, no date is set for the meeting.
Port-Margot past and present
Organization for the Development of Port-Margot (ODEP)
The origin of the name “Port-Margot” is unknown to us. Port-Margot was the first French settlement in Saint Domingue and it already bore this name when the buccaneers came to settle in. As of 1630, the French, chased out of the island of Saint Christophe, had joined forces with the Pirates from Ile de la Tortue to venture toward the coast of Port-Margot to establish dins, i.e. temporary establishments where they roasted meats or preserved them by smoking them.
The boundaries of the town of Port-Margot are: in the Northern side the sea, in the Eastern side the town of Limbé, in the South the town of Pilate, and in the West the town of Borgne.
A few hundred meters from the eastern side of Port-Margot’s cove, towards the North-West side is the refuge aka. The islet is located a few cables’ length away from the Rocher d’Orgeron, which the pirates had used as a prison.
The municipality of Port-Margot is divided into six sections, the last five of which are only slopes of mountains or just mountains, they are:
Bas-Quartier – Grande Plaine – Bas Petit-Borgne – Corail – Haut Petit Borgne – Bras gauche
The Port-Margot River traverses the commune vertically. It begins from the hills of Margot, then snakes its way through Petit Bourg, Grand Bourg and ends up at the sea just East of Bayeux.
On its way to the sea, it connects with several other brooks that add to its strength. They are the river of Petit Bourg on the left; the river of Corail connected on the right by that of Corneille, and the river of Petit Borgne that merges upstream from that of Bayeux.
The Port-Margot river is on a flood zone. During the drought season it has only a thin filament of water, but in the rainy season, it terrorizes the whole region along its path.
The municipality of Port-Margot is located along the northern coasts of Haiti approximately 35 km (22 miles) from the city of the Cap-Haitian via a road that goes through the town of Limbé, then national highway No. 1. It is connected to the town of Borgne, 20 km (12 miles) away, via a road that passes through Bayeux and connects with the town of Port-de-Paix.
Fertility of the municipality
The municipality is one of the most fertile in the northern region of Haiti due to its many rivers. Approximately a quarter of its mountains is still green and wet and produces several precious commodities like coffee beans, cocoa and other food plants. The rainy season starts in August up to including January.
Around 1900-1980 unemployment was almost nonexistent. The fields were green and production had increased considerably. Each parcel of land was cultivated according to the needs of the community, and the surplus sold to the big cities. Unfortunately, what seemed to be the terrestrial paradise gradually and completely changed. The lands were devalued due to deforestation; the agrarian layer was diminishing daily and moving towards the sea, thus reducing cultivable space. Moreover, the river frequent changes of its bed caused enormous losses to the population. Adding insult to injury, the migration towards the metropolitan cities, unemployment, and lack of healthcare had contributed even more to the economic recession of the area.
In spite of these difficulties, Port-Margot still keeps its charm and abounds in activities that satisfy almost everyone. Its beaches are among the most beautiful ones in the country: Chouchou Bay with gilded white sand, Coup de Sable or Cabaret, Pas Kannot, Coco. It’s also worth mentioning Basen Waka in Novion on the Thibaud residence. One can also enjoy a romantic sunset at Morne Coplan, a camping site, and action-packed family picnics at l’Ilet.
Sources: AlterPresse (French) | Haiti Chery (English) | Organization for the Development of Port-Margot, Inc. (ODEP) | Featured image: Chouchou Bay