Industrial Park in Caracol: A “Win-Win” Situation?

Haiti Grassroots Watch has published numerous articles regarding developments in Haiti that may damage the environment irreparably. At least 7 articles have been dedicated to the new industrial park—Parc Industriel de la Région Nord—already being built in Caracol, in the northern region of Haiti and partly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank [see previous post Inter-American Development Bank Approves $50 Million for Haiti’s Caracol Industrial Park]. See excerpts of “Industrial Park in Caracol: A ‘Win-Win’ Situation?” with a link to the full article below:

Why did the Haitian Ministry of the Environment warn of “great potential adverse impact” from the new Industrial Park of the North Region (Parc Industriel de la Région Nord – PIRN) being built in Caracol with over US$200 million in public and private financing? Why did the consultants’ study call the nearby Caracol Bay “unique, productive and precious” and say that even if all regulations are followed, the PIRN “could endanger this ecosystem?” Why did the same consultants – who originally suggested the Caracol site, but who later admitted they did not take environmental considerations into account – tell the Government of Haiti (GOH) to consider moving or even cancelling the project? [. . .]

[. . .] But even though two extensive environmental and social impact studies – listing numerous risks – are public and posted online, and even though there are also several other studies on the Caracol Bay marine habitat available, no Haitian or foreign media outlet (except for Haiti en Marche) has looked further than the press releases from the project’s champions and investors: the US State Department, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the GOH and Sae-A Trading. Instead, the Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Associated Press, Le Nouvelliste, Haiti Press Network, and others are largely cheerleaders for the PIRN and the mostly sweatshop wage jobs it will provide.

It comes as no surprise that there are numerous environmental and social risks associated with any industrial park – “free trade” or not. But these risks are exponentially greater in poor countries due to poor zoning, lack of legislation and/or government control, large unemployed populations, etc. [. . .] As noted above, studies were done, including one released May 13, 2011, by Koios Associates, hired by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) in 2010 [See The Case of Caracol – Story 6] and a second one, released on August 5, 2011, and commissioned by one of the project’s major investors, the IDB.

Both studies have potential conflict of interest issues: Koios chose the site in the first place, and the IBD is donating or loaning over US$50 million for the PIRN. But it appears the potential conflicts of interest, and the numerous risks outlined in the documents, were not of significant concern to the power-brokers. Construction has started and a US$15 million power plant contract was awarded in September.

[. . .] Also, equally astoundingly, in their impact study, the Koios team claimed “It wasn’t possible to anticipate the presence of the complex and precious ecosystem of the Caracol Bay before we conducted this environmental evaluation.” The claim is nothing short of outrageous. The bay – home to mangrove forests and the country’s longest uninterrupted coral reef – has been the subject of international study for some years and is part of several plans to make the region into a park, according to publicly available documents.

1.) A 2009 study for the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) put the “value of ecosystem services” of the mangroves and coral reefs in the bay at US$ 109,733,000 per year.

2.) In 2010, the UN Development Program and the Haitian Ministry of the Environment (MOE) initiated plans to set up a “Système national d’aires protégées (SNAP).” Over US$2.7 million has been invested in the program already, according to the MOE. One of the first areas on the list is the Caracol Bay.

3.) The bay also lies in the Caribbean Biological Corridor (CBC), an area designated by Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba back in 2009, and is part of that US$7.4 million project.

For full article, see

For more information (and photo above), see

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