Dominican Republic: Factory in Los Haitises to be Relocated

Since November 26th, Dominicans celebrate the relocation of the cement factory proposed to be built in the protected area of Los Haitises National Park. Against what it seemed to be high-level support for the project, the decision of the Dominican Mining Consortium (Consorcio Minero Dominicano) [es] complied with the rejection of the construction by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at Dominican Republic [es] and with the demands of public protests of the community.

Reactions were seen in blogs, Facebook and Twitter [es], like the one of user Amelia Odette [es] who cheered at the resolution:

Feliz!! LA CEMENTERA NO VA!! Informe de la ONU determina que no es viable cerca de Los Haitises!! Unidos podemos! Felicidades a todos!!! :D 

Happy!! THE CEMENT FACTORY WON'T HAPPEN!! Report from the UN states that it is not viable near Los Haitises!! Together we can do it! Congratulations to all!!! :D 
Los Haitises, photo used with permission of the Secretary of Environment, Dominican Republic

Los Haitises, photo used with permission of the Secretary of Environment, Dominican Republic

From both ecological and cultural points of view, choosing Los Haitises to construct a cement factory was an unfortunate move: not only is the fragile ecosystem primary source of water for the island, but the site is also home to cave paintings. Because of its features, Los Haitises is considered Cultural Heritage of Humanity and it is protected by Dominican laws.

During May and June of this year, protests, marches, concerts and even Facebook groups campaigned against the cement factory. On the last week of June the movement created by the community of Gonzalo, the town directly affected by the project, reached its peak and the construction was suspended by orders of judge Sarah Henríquez Marín, from the National District Court for Administrative Law Disputes (Tribunal Contencioso y Administrativo del Distrito Nacional).

Around the same time, the Dominican government decided to re-evaluate the project through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) [es].

Five months later, specifically on November 26th, the UNDP declared that the cement factory construction was “neither viable nor pertinent” on Los Haitises [es] because of the irreversible damages that it could cause to the environment. That same day the Dominican Mining Consortium stated in a press release that in spite of their disagreement with it [es], the organization would comply with the UNDP briefing by selecting another location to construct the cement factory.

Newspapers and television news shows stand out the importance of the protests on the positive outcome for Los Haitises, especially the ones involving young people. Odanis Valdez Polonia, member of the Facebook group “I support the fight for the preservation of Los Haitises, NO TO THE CEMENT FACTORY!!”, sums up the situation with these words:

Para que vean que la union hace la fuerza, gracias a los jovenes, los periodistas que hablaron por el pueblo y a todos los involucrados directo e indirectos para apoyar lo justo lo invaluable, que es lo que Jaime David [Fernández Mirabal, Secretario de Estado de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales] no pensó! que secretario de medio ambiente nos gastamos!

See how unity makes us strong, thanks to the young people, the journalists who spoke for the country and all who were involved directly or indirectly to support what is fair and cannot be priced, something that Jaime David [Fernández Mirabal, current secretary of Environment and Natural Resources] did not think about! what a waste of an Environment secretary!

Translated by Issa Villarreal

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