Haiti: fertile land seized for new sweatshop zone

Weekly News Update

07/11/2011

Residents of Caracol, a village in Haiti’s Northeast department, say they were never consulted or even warned about plans to build a huge new “free trade zone” (FTZ, a complex of assembly plants) on land where many of them have been farming for some 20 years. “It’s the most fertile area we have at Caracol,” resident Renel Pierre told journalist Sylvestre Fils Dorcilus. “It’s inconceivable and unacceptable that the government could choose this part of the land to set up an industrial park.”

The Parc industriel du Nord (Northern Industrial Park, PIN) is a joint project of the US government, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB, or BID in French and Spanish) and South Korea’s leading apparel manufacturer, Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd. Together, they are putting some $300 million into the FTZ, which promoters claim will generate 20,000 jobs in the short term and 65,000 jobs over time. The Haitian government provided the land, which it says is state property; the administration of former president René Préval (1996-2001 and 2006-2011) promised to compensate the peasants who have been using it. Continue reading