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Dominican Republic: Against the Cement Factory in Los Haitises

For more than a month, Dominicans have been protesting against the proposed construction of a cement factory in the protected area of Los Haitises National Park, a chalky ecosystem with unique characteristics located in the northeastern part of the Dominican Republic. It has been declared Cultural Patrimony for its caves, which contains Taíno art. In addition, Los Haitises is one of the primary sources of water on the island, and it estimated that is importance will grow as a strategic reserve because of its numerous underground currents.

The fragile ecosystem, often known as the lungs of the Caribbean, has been targeted by the Grupo Estrella as the location for a cement factory, and which many are concerned about the damage to the natural spaces, as well as flora and fauna that are in danger of extinction. With other possible locations for the factory without the rich biodiversity, Luijo of Ahí e Que Prende [es] asks, “why the insistence of having it in Los Haitises? Why in that place exactly?”

However, this large company with its headquarters in Santiago, has a strong economic and commercial impact with its important shares in one of the most prestigious Dominican universities, and as the owner a national newspaper, among its other businesses.

In addition, there is official support, and the Environmental Secretary Jaime David Fernández has avoided the subject and many consider that his reputation has been damaged. José Méndez of Monaco [es] calls on the government official to make a statement about his role in the matter:

Jaime David, pedimos que denuncie si está recibiendo presión para ejecutar lo que estoy seguro en su interior usted no aprueba en lo mínimo, aunque trate de explicarlo

Jaime David, we call on you to denounce if you are receiving pressure to implement (this project) that I am sure that you actually do not approve of at all, try to explain it.
Photo of protests by José Peguero and used with permission. http://josepeguero.net

Photo of protests by José Peguero and used with permission. http://josepeguero.net

As a result, protests have taken place in the community of Gonzalo, which is located in Monteplata next to Los Haitises. It was also the scene of violent confrontations and large protests by residents that do not want the cement factory.

Online there have also been campaigns to collect signatures for petitions, Facebook groups, and bloggers and twitterers have also come out against this proposal. A Twitter account called Haitises Park has provided updates on the campaign saying “We Don't Want Cement in out National Park.” Some of the protests were organized on blogs, such as the blog by José Árias [es].

Officials from the Department of Environment has tried to insist that the cement factory will be placed in a flat area and will not affect the national park. It has emphasized that there have been wrong ideas that the cement factory will be in the middle of Los Haitises.

Nevertheless, it appears that these public campaigns have paid off, as a judicial decision has ordered the suspension of activities [es] because of potential environmental damage. Joan Guerrero of Duarte 101 [es] has reactions from twitterers upon hearing the news.

It was a victory for some, like Joely Rodriguez @JolyRodriguez celebrates [es]:

Dios mio no puedo creerlo! No es mentira… Cuando un pueblo se une, algo pasa -No a la Cementera- >>Los trabajos suspendidos inmediatamente

My God, I can't believe it! It is not a lie…. When the people united, something happens – No to the Cement Factor- >> The construction has been suspended immediately

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