The purpose of this site is to piece together the information which is available about Mining in Haiti. As this takes time we will cut to the chase: all persons, animals, and trees on mountains or nearby are in imminent danger, especially in the north of Haiti.
It appears that 20-23% of Haitian land is currently under permit to mining companies. This excludes petroleum companies and quarries.
Our purpose is also to raise urgent questions, which few seem to be raising. Haiti and the world urgently need a discussion regarding the impact of mining on the environment, as well as the impact on those residing on the land.
We hope that (an) attorney(s) will file an injunction to temporarily halt the mining and that this injunction be filed both within Haiti and Internationally. This will provide time for discussion of the environmental and social impacts.
People whine constantly about the deforestation of Haiti and blame the poor peasants. Why do some believe that surface mining will help? On the contrary, surface mining Haiti will cause ecological devastation which is irreparable and will affect the entire earth. Blaming the peasants for deforestation appears, at least in part, a cover for what is really happening.
What will happen to all of the people residing and farming on the land to be surface mined? We are led to believe that no one lives/lived there but statistics show us that this is false, as does satellite imagery of homes. We are led to believe that it lacks vegetation, whereas the satellite imagery shows that it is green. We are even led to the very silly conclusion that endangered animals such as Solenodon paradoxus paradoxus respect the Haiti-Dominican Republic border crossing and do not live in Haiti’s north. In short, we are led to the false conclusion that there is nothing good in the north of Haiti anyway, making it a good place for pit mines. This seems to harken back to historic north-south divisions in Haiti.
The fates of landowner, tenant, sharecropper or squatter are dependent upon the Haitian State and the Mining Companies. How is this so? Simply because the Haitian government controls the mineral rights of the country and if you do not own/control the mineral rights you do not really own your land. Once the Haitian government leases mineral rights to mining companies, then those companies control the destiny of the land.
Even in many or all states in the USA, if you do not own your mineral rights you are dependent upon the mining company/oil company to play fair with you in regard to damage to land and livelihood. If they are not fair the only choice is to get an attorney.
However, the 1987 Haitian Constitution stipulates that all profits of mining should be equitably shared between the State, the Mining Company, and the Landowner. The current, 1976, Mining Law says that there must be agreement on indemnization between the occupants, landowner and mining company before any work on the property begins. Failing an agreement, the courts must decide on indemnization. If expropriation is required, then the mining permit holder is responsible for paying all indemnities and costs. These laws appear to be ignored, by all accounts.
We challenge the Haitian government and the mining companies to tell us what, if anything, is being done in the way of recompense for the farmers and landowners. Perhaps a class action lawsuit is needed on behalf of the landowners and people living on the land.
The proposed Mines appear in violation of the International Rio Conventions (Biological Diversity, to Combat Desertification and Climate Change), which Haiti has signed. These mines seem to violate Haiti’s own environmental law along with the International Conventions.
Adherence to the law only occurs with a) willing compliance by Mining Companies, b) State Enforcement, or c) through Legal Action. As the State lacks the means to enforce its own laws and we hear nothing about indemnization from the Mining Companies this would seem to leave us with c), the need for legal action. A temporary injunction against mining is needed as an immediate interim step.
As for everyone else, use your creativity and take action. For example, write the US Congress and ask why they are planning to invest in reforestation in Haiti without taking notice of the deforestation caused by mining. Write President Obama. Write President Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe and ask them to uphold their stated commitments to the environment. Bypass low level bureaucrats who refuse to share information and go to the top. Contact your favorite NGO and/or Church, who are helping with food aid, agriculture, animal husbandry and/or helping with reforestation and the environment. Explain how the mines will undermine their work and cause donor monies to be wasted. Educate yourself and others about the human and environmental impacts of mining in Haiti and elsewhere.
If you doubt that there were and hopefully still are trees in Haiti, especially in the north, take a look at various Google Satellite maps. On the most recent maps, the Majescor-SOMINE property is still green with trees and vegetation. There are indications that some surface (strip or pit) mining has occurred on the properties of the other mining companies, but there is still much greenery.
Canadians should especially take action, as contrary to popular belief, their government (s), universities and mining companies appear to have the dirtiest hands in respect to this situation. I believe that the majority of the Canadian people do not want this.
Updates will be as frequent as possible and translation into French will occur on a sister blog site as soon as it is possible.
Haiti Mining Awareness
This blog post was edited on Oct. 24, 2012 (UTC) for clarity and to include updated info, which occurs in our more recent posts. See the October 17, 2012 “Haitian Highland Clearances” post for more indepth information.