The Caribbean’s biggest lake gets bigger, drowns farms

The flooding from the unusually heavy rains of the last few years has expanded Enriquillo lake’s shoreline and caused losses of crops and pasturelands for local farmers, while the nearby lagoon Azuei, in Haitian territory, advances unchecked towards the border town Jimaní, Dominican Today reports. The lake’s banks continue inundating cattle ranches and farms, as residents in the municipalities that form “the lake route” in southwester Independencia and Bahoruco provinces look on powerless awaiting government aid to arrive. “Only hungry people remain here who look for options to survive. Until a few months ago we were hoping to resume production because the lake seemed to have halted, but its waters continued silently below the surface and have devastated everything,” said Nolberto Cuevas, president of the farmers association of the village Las Baitoas.

He said of Las Baitoas’ 215 small and medium farmers he’s the only one with a piece of land outside Enriquillo, but the crops have begun to wither because the salty water is under their feet. “I see the plantain trees fall rotten and those standing have fruit bunches that cause pity, because they didn’t mature.”

Cuevas said in Independencia province, the most damage occurred in Las Baitoas, but noted that residents of the village Vengar a Ver and other localities such as Clavellinas, Los Arroyos, Descubierta, Postrer Río, Boca de Cachón, Villa Jaragua, among others, share the same fate. “We sold hundreds of bunches of bananas and plantains weekly, also truckloads of pigeon peas, corn, chayote, cassava, sweet potato and other crops that we miss today. We don’t know what we’re going to do now, because we no longer feel that the President’s promises are going to be kept.”

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