Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oil Developers want the Island of La Gonave: Is Haiti For Sale?

GRE_LaGonave_MasterPlanA summary of the "La Gonave Master Plan":
The developer, Global Renewable Energy, claims to be focused on "alternative energy projects," and has already pitched the plan to "buy" the island of La Gonave to the Haitian government, yet a public disclosure of the status of any agreements is unknown outside of the principles involved.

The developers' first priority is to build a "crude oil refinery", "petroleum product tank farm", "food processing plant", and "industrial port" in the planned "industrial city", but they are promoting their project (Ironic at all to call it the "La Gonave Master Plan?") as an "island paradise and business mecca", that will be a "home for international business and the destination for world travelers." Why develop La Gonave? Because "Developers within the energy sector will be more likely to assume the risks due to the large profit margins that may be realized by them." GRE minimizes the environmental impact that an oil refinery on La Gonave will have, saying:

"The oil refinery is created from mini-refineries. This type of refinery has much less impact on its surroundings. The refinery will be located within the industrial city and visually isolated from the rest of the island by the Jatropha Plantation. Additionally, the refinery and industrial city are located on La Gonave’s most western tip thus minimizing any impact on La Gonave. The prevailing wind direction is from the east. This prevailing wind direction will carry the minimal emissions out to sea to the west thus not negatively impacting La Gonave or the rest of Haiti
When the project is complete in the 20 year span visualized by GRE, Haitians who remain on the island, will be 60% employed ("a large trainable workforce") by the project's proposed businesses (mostly the "industrial plantation"). Haitians might well ask, what of the 40% not employed? Also, what of the fact that local island residents will be hindered from traveling freely from/to the island because the only way to get there will be via a private executive airport or the large industrial dock for cruise ships?

The majority of the island (a 65,000 acre project) will be taken up by an "industrial plantation." Haitians should be concerned that the Republic of Haiti's government will only be designated as a "shareholder" in the proposed agreement. Who will be the civic authorities in this "island paradise"? It should be unacceptable that this "master" plan proposes a sort of Vatican City of the Caribbean with no official government oversight.

Will Haitians want a cadre of international business executives placidly profiting from the natural resources of Haiti and running the island of La Gonave like a "business?" Hopefully not.

The master plan has no seeming plan to reimburse the people they will be displacing from their lands. In Haiti, there have been protests held in opposition to projects similar to this proposed plan, since they displace and disenfranchise the peasants by taking away their land. One example is this protest that was held in 2007 on World Food Day by peasant groups, who presented a petition against Jatropha plantations to the Haitian Parliament. The developers and the Haitian government (if this plan gets approval) can expect the same response. Haitian popular organizations will exercise their democratic rights and want a say in what happens to Haitian lands.

Haitians should put forth a competing idea or propose amendments that benefit the Haitian people. The plan might for instance, give a share of the profits from industries on the island to social services or the government could institute a minimum salary or dividend (like in Brazil or Alaska); or fund proper health-care facilities, schools, social services; or require that the locals form the governing body of the island; or that proper jatropha farming or other alternate energy form do not disturb the ecosystem of the island; or that a ferry system to/from the island be financed and run from a public fund.

A successful model of change that would empower Haitians is the model of Pandiassou. Pandiassou was an almost uninhabited, devastated region of Haiti, mired in erosion and despair, until Pandiassou was transformed [pdf] by the leadership of one man working with the local community:
"Frère Armand has both feet firmly on the ground. For example, on first arriving in Plateau Central, he quickly saw that the whole area needed reforestation.

He rolled up his sleeves and, with the help of the peasants, replanted 200 hectares of desolate land. All this and more has been for the benefit of the people.

{...]In January 2008, the Haitian Government awarded Frère Armand a large contract to build 150 lakes nationwide over a 3- year period .

This recognizes his success in the Central Plateau and also makes water storage, aquaculture and dry-season supplemental irrigation new components in the country’s long-term agriculture policy.

Frère Armand reports that news of the lake building program has reached as far as Africa where youths are writing that they want to come to Haiti to join the work."
Guy Antoine, who runs the website Windows On Haiti recommends Pandiassou and the artificial lakes of Frère Armand as one of the top 10 places to see in Haiti before dying.

Kòmantè: Vizite Pandyasou ak travay devlòpman kominotè Franklyn Armand reyalize yo, epi lamenm w'ap reyalize: a) Anri Kristòf vivan toujou; b) ou pa kapab pèdi lespwa pou Ayiti. Avèk vizyon e volonte de fè nèg ak fanm vanyan (tankou Frè Aman), e byen tankou "Phoenix" la, Ayiti ap refèt ankò. Peyi dayiti bezwen anpil mirak natirèl, tankou sa ekip ki antoure Frè Aman an reyalize nan Pandyasou, se pa chite ajenou sèlman ap lapriye gras mizerikòd.

Rough English translation:
Comment: Visit Pandiassou and the community development works Franklyn Armand has realized there, and on the one hand you will see: a) Henri Christophe still lives; b) we must not lose hope for Haiti. With the vision and willpower of men (like Father Armand), Haiti will rise like a "Phoenix" and be rebuilt again. The country of Haiti needs a lot of miracles, like the example set by Father Armand in Pandiassou, proving that getting on bended knee and praying alone will not end the misery.

[Guy refers to forum member Claudia's post: Pandiassou, Haiti] "I believe that the settlement of Pandiassou can serve as a model to the rest of the developing world because the local people are treated with respect, they are involved in the decision making process, and the vision of the project is long-term. I would love to see such a model put in place in some of the harder-hit regions of Africa. Pandiassou truly gives hope to the world."
Global Renewal Energy on the island's green energy potential: La Gonave "...is situated such that the Trade Winds blow across the narrowest portion of the island "[it is] Ideal for wind farm development." So why is that not the focus of their so-called "alternative energy projects" or "green energy potential" efforts? The reason is evident, the island is rich in oil reserves, so profit before people forms their primary focus. The preservation of the environment is not a priority.

Consequently, how ironic that GRE plucks out this rationalization as why an energy company is the entity best qualified to "run" the island, GRE says that: "Creating an island community that is focused on sustainable development through renewable energy requires an energy company to lead the project that has the skills to manage the island’s renewable natural resources to meet human needs while preserving the environment."

Haitians should be concerned when they look at how disastrously an "energy company," British Petroleum (BP), handled the "preserving the environment" aspect of what GRE claims is an energy company's skillset. The fact is, if anyone needed more reasons why an energy company should not be given the power to run a so-called "plantation" industry community, then a story which ran today in the New York Times on the oil spill by BP: "Gulf Oil Spill Is Bad, but How Bad?," should be reason enough.

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so ye said...

I see this development as a natural progression of the 1991, 2000 coup d'etats, the disempowerment of the vast majority of the population thru the banning of the largest political party, the emasculation of the Haitian state, and the installation of a fig leaf government to conceal the UN military occupation.

Is this the progress that slick Willie was referring to when he said he was going to get it right this time and that Hayti was on a path to development before the earthquake?

thezenhaitian said...

You've summarized it very well. I would just add that the NGOs have taken up the mantle from the Haitian military as a tool that keeps Haiti mired in debt and dependency.

Unknown said...

you guy are too propagandist ok the only thing that haiti need is business and i want that project for my people in la gonave but every one living on that island now must become share older instead of the haitian corrupt government and you guy must propose something better than trash talking or shut up cause i am tire of your nationalistic socialist welfare dependent idea that you guy keep on promoting everywhere for haiti we need business not social project to become a develop country

thezenhaitian said...

Hi Valerie-- thanks for your comment. I think it is well that you want so much for Haiti, so do I. If you have a specific objection to something I said, I'd be happy to address it.

1) Oil refineries are highly detrimental for the environment. The BP oil spill has put a halt to oil drilling and exploration because of the tremendous harm it has caused. This is the main focus of this project. That and the HUGE PROFITS for the developers and their international partners.

2) The huge Jathropa industrial PLANTATION that is planned for the island is not a good idea because Jathropa is a poisonous plant that is best farmed with mechanized equipment and will not bring the 12,000 jobs they promise.

3) The island will be the "exclusive" to these foreign executives and not open to the Haitians living there, who will be in these tourist attraction "villages" (for want of a better word) and this type of community is an insult to the culture and social needs of the people. Plus there are no social programs planned -- schools, libraries, recreation, everything that the so-called first world takes for granted.

4) They will not be sharing the HUGE PROFITS they expect with the Haitian people from this government free economic zone

I could go on...

thezenhaitian said...

I was a bit unclear with #3) The island will be an exclusive resort for the foreign executives, but the Haitians will simply be the low-wage work-horses that make it run.

thezenhaitian said...

@Valerie: To address real, systemic, corrosive, criminal, corruption, there would have to be an international investigation launched into the actions of the American, French and Canadian politicians and institutions who supported and financed two coups against Haiti's democratically elected government in 1991 and 2004 (Haiti's bicentennial year) and who installed the incompetent puppet government of Gerard Latortue and who run Haiti under their political pawn, Rene Preval. And those are just the most recent crimes committed against Haiti by the international community.

thezenhaitian said...

@Valerie: Who are "your people"and why would they want to live in a non-food producing, industrial plantation/economic zone?

thezenhaitian said...

@Valerie: I'm sorry the piece did not hold your attention to the very end. If you had read the whole piece, you would have come to the part where the development model of Pandiassou is suggested. Perhaps more "trash talking" could have held your attention. My bad.

Anonymous said...

Chantal: heartfelt thanks for your journalistic excellence on our exploited Haiti by militarized imperialist elitists(PLEASE SEE: http://www.truthcontrol.com/node/illuminati)
with brilliant eloquence and rigorous, conscientious dedication to accuracy, unlike Valerie ("you guy","share older","i am tire","a develop country",etc. but I can empathize with her frustration, even though as you know,Haiti, the rest of the so-called Third World and even the "Superpowers" have puppets chosen by the abominably corrupt power elites(PLEASE SEE: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/
illuminati/svali1_00.htm) to mislead them so "Together We Can..." be exploited!)
Another "Third World" country with similar heinous exploitation is The Democratic Republic of Congo,so PLEASE SEE the following relevant site and six others that are apropos,thanks:
1)BRITAIN FUNDING 'CONGO'S HOLOCAUST': http://www.propagandamatrix.com/articles/july2009/230709Congo.htm

Anonymous said...

The following 7 sites complement the previous ones that thezenhaitian kindly posted for me, so please bear with me since they're vital:
6)"MERCENARIES CIRCLING HAITI": http://www.afrocubaweb.com/news/haitinews.htm

Anonymous said...

I understand that the project may not be all in our favor. However i can feel Valerie on the fact that our socialist ideas have gotten us nowhere so far. I would suggest we analyze all proposed projects and made recommendations and requirements that will benefit our country such as tax, education, minimum wage, and even renewable contracts before they are approved for they do need our governments approval. We also need to understand that we need the powerfuls no matter how bad they've done us in the past. We have suffered enough. We are still paying for an independency we so courageously earned because the powerfuls were not on our side. It's time we face it and not make the same mistake twice. We have to be exploited to make it. Nobody will just hand anything to us. We cannot want it all.

thezenhaitian said...

You got that right. The project is not in Haiti's best interest at all on any level, socially, politically, environmentally and economically.

If by "our socialist ideas" you mean what the U.S. perceives as their eternal boogie man -- I would have to respectfully disagree with you that what Aristide, for one, wanted to do, such as build roads and infrastructure, give Haitian children a decent free education, a decent minimum wage for workers, decent and safe housing… is socialism.

Those are rather basic human rights that should be guaranteed for every human being living in a free society. IT'S NOT SOCIALISM. So stop buying into the propaganda and misinformation disseminated by the ruling class/oligarchs and hoarders of wealth who want to keep all the world's wealth and resources to themselves at the expense of the majority world population. They can never be rich or powerful enough and continue to perpetuate the growing gap between the rich and the poor with their predatory system of capitalism, while lamenting the state of those who suffer under that economic system by going to sleep hungry every night. Their hypocrisy and cynicism is such that they have made a business out of their version of charity to hide the fact that they are living in gaudy excess compared to the rest of the world. They want us to believe that they want to share their wealth with us, but look around you, evidently that is not the case.

Right, let's do that… as soon as Haiti gets a government elected by the people in a free and fair election -- in a Haiti which is not occupied. This newly liberated Haiti government will be held accountable to the people and not the traditional international cabal. It will be expected to do what is in the people's best interests.

That means that the occupation of Haiti by MINUSTAH, the U.S. and it's sub-contractors (blackwater (Xe), DynCorp, KBR...), NGOs, multinational corporations and "international community" is overthrown via a violent or non-violent revolt. Whatever works. Your plan can quick into high gear--can't wait!

All will be well and good since all the above referenced entities will be respectful of Haiti's Constitution and prepared to deal with the fact that Haitians will settle for nothing less then full autonomy and sovereignty.

Oh wait. Look around, do you see Leprechauns. That's because your living in a dream world!

Haiti needs to make powerful alliances alright, but not with it's traditional enemies.

Agreed, Haiti has been made to suffer enough by it's enemies in alliance with the immoral and rich private sector and business class of Haiti. Haiti needs to move on from its bad relationships, get the cooperation of the business class (by holding them accountable, taxing them and jailing their ass when they are found guilty of crimes) and to ally with countries who have not traditionally abused and exploited Haiti, such as Venezuela, Cuba, South Africa and other countries of the African diaspora.

Agreed, Haiti must not make the same mistakes. Haiti should not keep trusting the same countries who have betrayed it and facilitated its destruction via the destruction of its economy, infrastructure, environment, security and political stability. Haiti can avoid being exploited again by the same traditional enemies of Haiti which have destroyed the country. Nobody has ever handed Haitians anything. Haitians have always been exploited and abused by the former traditional colonial powers and slave-holding countries of the West for profit. It's time to kick these countries to the curb and make new alliances.

Anonymous said...

Ok I think you got my point totally wrong. By socialist ideas i meant waiting for a savior and not investing with the powerfuls. today they are the countries that have exploited us. my point is to be smart about it. it's a business concept. people will try to take advantage of us.Businessmen try to make the most out of opportunities. there is no fair in business unless someone put the regulations in place but we need them. I understand there are other countries we can make alliances with. However those counties are also working with the U.S, France, and canada. We need our enemies (if you wanna call them that. I don't cause they accept us in their countries and so far have been doing more for us than we can do for ourselves) for business purposes. they can invest and bring tourism to our country just like they do in many other islands. I say we hear every business propositions out. Appoint an expert committee to really look into those propositions and make sure we don't get screwed. for example, for the Lagonave proposition, I wanna know what they would do with the people living there now. are they gonna buy them out? How much is fair? what will be the minimum wage? I also wanna know if the people of Lagonave are going to own the the houses in the villages or are they going to rent? will there be a contract that our government may choose not to renew? and many more question. We need to leave emotions,hate out of this. it's business, it's investment. Trust me there will be many more propositions to come if we wisely choose our new president. the plan should not be to turn them down because we don't like them and know they don't like us, but to analyze the propositions and make decisions for our people, our country, and to have a better tomw.

thezenhaitian said...

Interesting, you've not only made up a superhero name (the powerfuls) for Haiti's exploiters, but you've also made up a new definition for socialism.

This business concept of exploitation, They probably call it something different in business school. It's working very well for the multinationals.

I'm glad you understand that there are other countries Haiti can work with. And no, the countries I named would not "work with" the U.S., France and Canada to continue to destroy the Haitian economy, political stability or support the continued raping of Haiti's resources. There are reasons for that, that are explained by those country's historical background and current geopolitical status.

Clearly, you have not been paying much attention, nor do you know anything about history if you believe that the cabal of countries who collaborated to remove Haiti's first real democracy are not Haiti's enemies. Evidently, you don't know anything about the cruel cycle of debt and dependency that has kept Haiti's population struggling in poverty and degradation. Also, the immigration, trade and foreign policies of the U.S. in particular, which are detrimental and inherently unfair to Haiti and it's population.

Tourism is an industry which will destroy Haiti's cultural and historical legacy. Haiti needs to invest in people development. That means Haiti should invest in education, infrastructure, and building a stable economic system in a planned society. The support of small farms, which will not destroy the environment and will keep farmers on their land and away from the densely populated cities of Port-au-Prince, Port-de-Paix and other high population areas should be part of that plan. Tourism should be limited and certainly should not be allowed to swallow up an entire island. The U.S. has already stolen one island from Haiti, this one must remain in Haitian hands.

Letting some rich, privileged executives co-op Haiti's land and run it for themselves as their own private little royal colonial capitalist paradise should not and will not sit well with most Haitians.

Agreed. The people should have a chance to weigh in on any proposed plans for Haiti. This project has very little to no merit to the Haitian people. Hopefully, when the people see it has no merit, the project will be dead in the water.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that he keeps calling it a "plantation" and I believe it too, the Haitians will be slaves back on their own land. I don't like this one bit.

Anonymous said...

We need more people like you thezenhaitian. You seem to understand well the game. But it is sad that people will hinder the progress of others. By people I mean countries that do want the development of Haiti. Haiti will rise again.

Anonymous said...

The USA and its allies are like snakes on the grass. Haitians should remain vigilant on what is happening in their homeland.

Unknown said...

Interesting to see Haitians with prolific ideas and discussions. Both zenhaitian and others great perspectives, and both expose the double edged sword embedded in the issue. I agree with the points each of you made. But to suggest that Haiti needs to be exploited in order to prosper is not idealistic, furthermore such thing would tarnish Haiti morale and dignity. Menm si yon pov ap mouri grangou sa pa vle di ke li sipoze niche deye moun rich pou'l jwenn (metaphorically speaking). On some level I agree that we need to analyze such proposals and make smart progressive strategic decision. Because of this the value of the island (lagonave) have risen. A great example of this is already is Labadi (spelling might be wrong). Business always seem to be positive, but we cannot forget its other ugly side. And that ugly side in the long run usually outweigh the benefits. What we need to analyze is conscience capitalism if Haiti were to consider such offer.

Anonymous said...

I have read this article last year and I am back reading it and many others like it this year. Like someone said this can be a double edge sword. This can bring an Amazing opportunity to Haiti. Haiti is NOT selling the Island I have read the proposal. Haiti will get a huge amount (30%) of reoccurring money for the project(I say ask for 50%). However, We need to realize that ALL companies are thieves to an extent. I for one am still ANGRY over La Navase (Navassa Island). However, Haitians are highly educated in this century. We are professionals with many expertise the only problem is that we are divided and often times unpatriotic. They cannot steal the Island of La Gonave (and they never asked to buy it)! We have video of their offer, we have paper work, it will remain "as is" under our constitution. People born after this company will still be Haitians. The Money generated will go towards the Haitian economy. This will make Us a very wealthy country and the richest Caribbean Island Nation. We need to also understand that Capitalist greed is not going ANYWHERE(By the way I am not oppose to capitalism. just learn how to capitalize or they will capitalize on YOU.)We need to understand that we MUST intellectually-negotiate with them in order to survive otherwise they will CRUSH us for another 200 years.I am not saying to let them get whatever they want but if we don't work with them they will keep building the Dominican Republic and leave our people at Dominican's mercy. WE all know how the Dominican citizenship laws are treating Born-Dominicans of Haitian descent... Just look Aristide tried to do it his way and got crushed. He was lucky he ended up in Africa instead of "missing". WE have a strong will as a people but our colonial revolution days are over! Koupe tet boule kay is bad for our economy. If we do that our people become refugees and die at sea. We don't have to give them all the kind of rights that they(LGDA)company is asking for. We can give them what we want. Just make sure it is on paper and televised AND WIDELY PUBLISHED, make documentaries in many languages explaining it. We can put them under our regulations. Verifying their works. Deciding if it is safe or not. Making sure they don't mine anything that is not on the contract. (Remember the Dominican Republic gave rights to a company to dig up gold and they took other resources and did not report it until they got caught.)My fellow Haitians I AM SKEPTICAL. However, we must listen and not chase out ALL developers and entrepreneurs. Labadee is "RENTED" NOT sold! Reason why it is private? THAT IS BECAUSE HAITIANS COME AND BEG. NOBODY WANT TO LAY ON A BEACH RELAXING AND SUDDENLY FEEL A SHADOW BLOCKING THE SUN AND WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR EYES THERE IS A GUY WHO IS SAYING SOMETHING THAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND AND REACHING HIS HAND OUT TO YOU. My friends that would freak tourist out INCLUDING Haitian-Diasporas that understand the language. Now this is what I would really like to see: I would prefer if Haitian entrepreneurs were bringing and developing that Idea on their own. However, we lack money,the knowledge, the unity and Patriotism. We can do these things ourselves without foreign companies, but we must be "competent". La Torture is smaller but provides the same opportunity as La Gonave but we like to sit and wait till someone else start gaining interest in our goods then we yell "NO! LEAVE IT ALONE!" Meanwhile we have no real plans and our people starve while we eat our chemically induce GMOs in the Diaspora. We need to pick fast. Do it ourselves NOW or partner up with these greedy bastards. Note: either way they and their governments run the world and they will get a slice. Poor Aristide learned that the hard way.

Anonymous said...

Before they could rescue the Haitians the only way they thought to help them was to install sweatshop for them to work and pay them $3,50 a day for 10 hours of work.

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