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Another Slow Motion Disaster for Haiti?

This one is scientifically weird. Unlike most of the Islands in the Caribbean, the Island of Hispaniola was formed by the Tectonic Plats pushing it up from the bottom of the ocean. As such, the Island is principally made up of Basalt and Granite. That is very very good from an agricultural standpoint, as the soil is very rich. As the collapse of thousands of buildings in Haiti during the earthquake demonstrates – that is not so good in terms of making concrete as it winds up weak and falls apart easily. The Northern and Southern “arms” of Haiti are mountain ridges. The center of their part of the Island is a valley, not much above sea level. The city of Port au Prince sits in this valley where it meets the sea and forms a deep water port. At one time this valley was some of the richest agricultural land in the world, and it still produces an excess of fruits and vegetables for the country’s people. At the western edge of this valley, on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, are two conjoined lakes, with, in days past – good fisheries. The lakes are filled with brackish water, and were formed by being cut off from the ocean millions of years ago when the Island rose from the bottom of the sea. To my knowledge, these lakes are no longer connected to the sea, and historically have been maintained by the plentiful tropical rains.

If these lakes are indeed rising, or the Island is sinking – then the City of Port au Prince could conceivably wind up underwater.

 

Fishermen in Lake Enriquillo among a sea of dead trees where farmers formerly reaped bountiful harvests.

 

Rising Tide Is a Mystery That Sinks Island Hopes

LAGO ENRIQUILLO, Dominican Republic — Steadily, mysteriously, like in an especially slow science fiction movie, the largest lake in the Caribbean has been rising and rising, devouring tens of thousands of acres of farmland, ranches and whatever else stands in its way.

Lago Enriquillo swallowed Juan Malmolejos’s banana grove. It swamped Teodoro Peña’s yucas and mango trees. In the low-lying city of Boca de Cachon, the lake so threatens to subsume the entire town that the government has sent the army to rebuild it from scratch on a dusty plain several miles away.

Harvesting the Banana crop, a common site in Haiti and the DR

Jose Joaquin Diaz believes that the lake took the life of his brother, Victor. Victor committed suicide, he said, shortly after returning from a life abroad to see the family cattle farm, the one begun by his grandfather, underwater.

“He could not believe it was all gone, and the sadness was too much,” Mr. Diaz said, as a couple of men rowed a fishing boat over what had been a pasture.

Theories abound, but a conclusive answer remains elusive as to why the lake — as well as its nearby sibling in Haiti, Lac Azuei, which now spills over the border between the two on the island of Hispaniola — has risen so much. Researchers say the surge may have few if any precedents worldwide.

“There are no records, to the best of our knowledge, of such sudden growth of lakes of similar size,” said Jorge E. Gonzalez, a City College of New York engineering professor who is helping to lead a consortium of scientists from the United States and the Dominican Republic studying the phenomenon.

Other lakes have grown, from melting glaciers and other factors, Mr. Gonzalez said, but “the growth rates of these two lakes in Hispaniola has no precedent.”

The lakes, salty vestiges of an ancient oceanic channel known for their crocodiles and iguanas, have always had high and low periods, but researchers believe they have never before gotten this large. The waters began rising a decade ago, and now Enriquillo has nearly doubled in size to about 135 square miles, Mr. Gonzalez said, roughly the size of Atlanta, though relatively light rains in the past year have slowed its expansion. Azuei has grown nearly 40 percent in that time, to about 52 square miles, according to the consortium.

The scientists, partly financed by the National Science Foundation, are focusing on changing climate patterns as the main culprit, with a noted rise in rainfall in the area attributed to warming in the Caribbean Sea.

In reports, they have noted a series of particularly heavy storms in 2007 and 2008 that swamped the lakes and the watersheds that feed them, though other possible contributing factors are also being studied, including whether new underground springs have emerged.

“People talk about climate change adaptation, well, this is what’s coming, if it’s coming,” said Yolanda Leon, a Dominican scientist working on the lake research.

A Satellite Topographic view of  Lake Azuei (bottommost), Largo Enriquillo, and the location of Port au Prince. The arrow points to the major fault line which caused the recent earthquake.

The rise has taken a toll, particularly around Enriquillo, an area more populated than that around Azuei.

The government estimates that 40,000 acres of agricultural land have been lost, affecting several thousand families who have lost all or part of their only livelihood of yuca, banana and cattle farming. The town of Boca de Cachon at the lake’s edge is in particular peril, with some houses already lost, and the government is bulldozing acres of land for new farms.

A main highway to the Haitian border was flooded and had to be diverted, while another road around the perimeter of the lake now ends abruptly in the water.

Local residents are skeptical that the government will follow through, and they question whether the soil will be as good as the parcels near the lake that drew generations of farmers in the first place.

Some of the Island’s rich produce at a Veggie stand in Haiti

Olgo Fernandez, the director of the country’s hydraulic resources institute, waved off the criticism and said the government had carefully planned the new community and plots to ensure the area remains an agriculture hotbed. It will be completed this year, officials said, though on a recent afternoon there was much work left to be done.

“These will be lands that will produce as well as, if not better than, the lands they previously had,” Mr. Fernandez said.

Row upon row of cookie-cutter, three-bedroom, cinder-block houses — 537 in all — are being built in the new town, which will include a baseball field, church, schools, community center, parks, even a helicopter landing pad (“for visiting dignitaries,” an official explained). Environmental controls will make it “the greenest town in the Dominican Republic,” said Maj. Gen. Rafael Emilio de Luna, who is overseeing the work.

For now, though, at the ever-creeping edge of the lake, the ghostly trunks of dead palm trees mark submerged farms.

Junior Moral Medina, 27, who lives in Boca, plans to move to the new community. He looked out on a recent day on an area where his 10-acre farm had been, now a pool of lake water studded with dead palms.

“We have been worried the whole town would disappear,” said Mr. Medina, who now works on the construction site for the new town. “Some people at first did not want to leave this area, but the water kept rising and made everybody scared.”

Residents in other communities are growing impatient and worry they will not be compensated for their losses.

Enrique Diaz Mendez has run a small grocery stand in Jaragua since losing half of his six acres of yuca and plantain crops to Enriquillo. “We are down to almost nothing,” he said.

Jose Joaquin Diaz and his brother, Victor, grew up tending to the sheep, goats and cows of the family farm, but both left the Dominican Republic for the United States for better opportunity. Jose returned first, and three years ago Victor arrived, looking forward to the slower pace of life after working an array of jobs over 18 years in Brooklyn.

“We told him about the lake, but he was shocked when he saw it,” Jose recalled, tears welling with the memory.

Later that night, Victor called his mother to express his dismay. The next morning he was found hanging in a relative’s apartment in Santo Domingo where he was staying. “It is strange to see people fishing where we had the cows,” Mr. Diaz said. “Victor could not bear it.”

 

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Haiti

 

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Haiti – US Missionaries Child Rescue?

A little background here is in order. The Dominican Republic is the child sex trafficking capital of the Western Hemisphere. Many of the children who are trafficked into sex slavery as prostitutes are kidnapped, or purchased from Haiti. When Rush Limbaugh loads up his Lear Jet with a few conservative male friends and heads down to the Dominican Republic for a weekend “getaway”…

It isn’t because of the beaches or Mojitos.

So to the Haitian Government, and to the Haitian people, the issue of child trafficking hits very close to home.

So, while the New Life Children’s Refuge may be exactly what they claim to be – there is a chance, a very real chance – they aren’t.

Dominican official: I warned U.S. church leader about Haitian kids

The Dominican consul general Wednesday rejected the claim from an American church leader that she thought her paperwork was in order when she attempted to take 33 Haitian children out of the country, saying he had told her it was not.

“I warned her, I said as soon as you get there without the proper documents, you are going to get into trouble, because they are going to accuse you, because you have the intent to pass the border without the proper papers and they are going to accuse you with kids trafficking,” Carlos Castillo said he told the group’s leader, Laura Silsby, during a meeting Friday.

Four hours later, Silsby and nine other Americans were turned back from the border. They were arrested and taken to a jail in Port-au-Prince.

“This woman knew what she was trying to do was not legal,” Castillo said.

A CNN reporter attempted to get reaction to Castillo’s comment from the jailed Americans, but they would not discuss the matter, responding to questions by singing “Amazing Grace” and praying.

Told earlier that many of the children had living parents, Silsby said, “I did not know that.”

She added, “In our hearts, our intention was to help children that had been orphaned or abandoned by their parents.”

But the interpreters the group had used said the conversations between Silsby and the parents in the Haitian town of Calebasse made clear to them that Silsby must have been aware of the children’s status.

SOS Children’s Villages, an Austrian charity, said that it has determined that at least two-thirds of the children are not orphans. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2010 in News

 

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Sosa Loses His Tan – Or Sammy Does the Michael Jackson

Say it ain’t so, Sammy!

Sammy Sosa’s new skin reflects an ugly mentality

Hat Tip – the Grio

Sammy Sosa with his wife, Sonia Sosa on May 13, 2009 in New York on the left and on November 4, 2009 in Las Vegas on the right. (Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images and Sipa via AP Images)

Sammy Sosa with his wife, Sonia Sosa on May 13, 2009 in New York on the left and on November 4, 2009 in Las Vegas on the right. (Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images and Sipa via AP Images)

Many have been shocked to see recent photos of retired major league baseball player Sammy Sosa. Not only is he wearing green contact lenses, but his skin tone is considerably lighter than usual, something which he claims is the result of a skin “rejuvenation” process, some reports say. The once dark-complexioned, undeniably African-looking Sosa now looks more like Ricky Ricardo from “I Love Lucy”. As the late Nigerian activist and musician Fela Kuti would have said, it appears that Sosa is guilty of having a “colonial mentality.”

Throughout the African diaspora, black people internalized the racism they experienced under slavery and colonial rule. Bad habits are hard to break, and there is still self-hatred among black people today. With years of conditioning, societies were made to believe that blackness was bad, and anything associated with blackness was inferior and undesirable.

This problem is also prevalent in Latin America. For example, Brazil has the largest black population outside of the African continent at 90 million, which amounts to roughly half of its people. Yet, despite their conspicuous presence in society, black Brazilians face discrimination, poverty, and lower education and health standards than whites. According to a “racial atlas” created by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Federal University of Minas Gerais, 65 percent of the poor and 70 percent of the extremely poor in Brazil are of African descent.

In the Dominican Republic, Sosa’s country of origin, people are overwhelmingly black: 90 percent have African ancestry. Yet only 11 percent identify themselves as black. And as UN experts found, there is “a profound and entrenched problem of racism and discrimination against such groups as Haitians, Dominicans of Haitian descent, and more generally against blacks within Dominican society.”

A strong anti-Haitian sentiment is rooted in the country’s history. Haiti is a former colonizer of the Dominican Republic, as was Spain. Yet, Dominicans only celebrate their independence from Haiti. Haitian cultural practices are viewed as inferior. The government has engaged in mass deportations of Haitians – and sometimes Dominicans mistaken for Haitians – while also attempting to deny citizenship to the Dominican-born children of so-called “illegal” Haitian immigrants.

But a large reason for this hatred of Haitians is a denial of Dominicans’ own African origin. Simply put, sometimes it is difficult to stare at oneself in the mirror. For years, under the Hispanidad movement, the government of the Dominican Republic emphasized the nation’s white, Spanish and Catholic heritage, and conveniently left out the black part… (more)

Hmmm… Looks like Mr. Sosa isn’t the only one getting some “cosmetic” help…

In any case – check out this pic of Sammy from 2003 –

sammy-sosa

Sammy Sosa in 2003

Maybe it’s the steroids?

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2009 in Nawwwwww!

 

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