Petition to Ban Construction on Agricultural Lands in Cayey, Puerto Rico

La-tierra-fertil-se-respeta-Cayey-Ciudadela

CAYEY para el MUNDO is a group founded by neighbors of the town of Cayey, Puerto Rico. They are circulating a petition to be sent to Governor Alejandro García Padilla to try to save the surrounding rich agricultural flatlands, and for these to be used to develop sustainable agriculture projects. Read the description here and access the complete petition in the link below:

Just 70 years ago, Puerto Rico produced 70% of all the food consumed here. Today, we produce less than 10%. Modernization strategies based on foreign investment and our colonial relationship with the U.S. created a national economy of extreme dependence. Agricultural dependence is always dangerous.  But Puerto Rico is particularly vulnerable. A chain of islands in the Caribbean, our storehouses are designed to hold just three days’ worth of food. If war, natural disaster or any other emergency interferes with the arrival of the ships that supply us, four million Puerto Rican people would face an unimaginably devastating crisis of starvation and violence.

Cayey is a town with a long agricultural history. We have produced rice, corn, varied root vegetables, fruit, wood-bearing trees, sugar cane, barnyard and grazing animals, and more. Little by little, Cayey was impacted by the new economy of consumption and by unsustainable urban development. Shopping malls occupied mostly by multinational companies have left local businesses empty. With 24 shops closed and our first shopping center almost empty, our local economy struggles to survive.

Cayey still has a beautiful cattle farm of hundreds of acres with precisely the biodiversity and agricultural potential needed for sustaining our people. Río La Plata, our longest river, fed by multiple springs on this farm, is one of our most important sources of fresh water. And this is precisely where a group of developers plan to build another “outlet”-type shopping mall with 4,370 parking spaces and a big, luxury hotel with a casino.

More than 100 neighbors (CAYEY para el MUNDO) have united to protest this development because (among 16 principal reasons) it kills the possibility of sustainably developing the last flat, agricultural lands left in Cayey. CAYEY para el MUNDO proposes alternatives of diversified agriculture and ecotourism based on our natural and cultural resources. These alternatives, based in our communities, could serve as examples of appropriate, sustainable economic development.

Recently, the process of getting development permits in Puerto Rico has been “fast tracked” in order to eliminate community participation and neutralize other sources of resistance to inappropriate development projects. The economic crisis seems to be a good excuse for ignoring our civil rights. Agriculture apparently does not represent the economic growth that moves international credit. But does it make economic sense in the long run to pave over the resources that would allow us to develop sustainable economies and ecosystems?

Around the world, agricultural economies confront the imposition of projects characterized by ecological and cultural destruction in order to stimulate the short-term economy. In their name, and in the name of the ecological and economic health of our Puerto Rican archipelago [. . .] we want sustainable development. We resist the destruction of our agricultural lands.

For full text and to sign petition, see http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-alejandro-garc%C3%ADa-padilla-ban-construction-on-agricultural-land-in-cayey-puerto-rico-2

Photo from http://www.miprv.com/expresan-oposicion-a-construccion-de-centro-comercial-en-terrenos-agricolas-en-cayey/

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