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Date: 2024-07-16 Page is: DBtxt001.php txt00001708

Country .... Haiti
Controversy over Haiti’s development

A new industrial park in Haiti will create jobs, but is it leading the country in a “race to the bottom”?

This dialog about Haiti is very informative, but the people with money and power are probably not paying any attention. As long as the primary reason for investment is business profit and power with rather little transparency there will be investment with this agenda and not very much else.

The international collaboration with Haiti over the past 200 years has been abysmal, and there does not seem to be much interest in changing this. From my perspective it is time for Occupy Movement social action around the issues of post-earthquake Haiti.

The material pulled together by The Stream is a very good start.
Peter Burgess

Controversy over Haiti’s development A new industrial park in Haiti will create jobs, but is it leading the country in a “race to the bottom”?

Uploaded by AJstream on Nov 30, 2011

A new industrial park in Haiti will create jobs, but is it leading the country in a 'race to the bottom'?

As Haiti continues to rebuild from the 2010 earthquake, investors are pouring money into the country. The latest initiative is an international project worth $225 million. A planned industrial park is expected to create 20,000 jobs with workers receiving a salary of $5 per day - Haiti’s minimum wage.

Now a South Korean garment manufacturer has made plans to be the first tenant in the new industrial park located in Haiti’s rural north. The Caracol Industrial Park project has received much support from former President Bill Clinton and the Inter-American Development Bank, who believe it will create much-needed jobs for Haitians.

The industrial park will represent a joint investment of about $225 million. The U.S. government has already put down $125 million, while Sae-A, the South Korean garment manufacturer, has contributed more than $70 million. The factory will make garments for companies like Wal-Mart, Target, and Gap Inc., among others.

The factory will create an estimated 20,000 new jobs when it is completed. It will provide housing for 5,000 workers and set up a new school for 500 children.

However, an investigation by Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) found that the Sae-A business venture actually does more to help the Haitian government and foreign corporations than the people of Haiti.

Haiti’s minimum wage for non-factory workers is $5.00 per day, and according to HGW, minimum wage for factory workers can be as low as $3.75 per day. Those rates have led labour groups to compare the new jobs to sweatshop work. And while labour unions are legal in the country, employers routinely award bonuses to workers who do not unionise.

Additionally, opponents say, waste from the factory would pollute a nearby river that could have been a source of clean water for Haitians. Sanitation has been a major source of health problems, including a cholera outbreak that has killed 6,600 since last year’s earthquake.

Haitian President Michel Martelly says he will create 500,000 new jobs over the next three years by encouraging investment from foreign businesses. But progress on that pledge may be slow, due to bureaucracy, weak infrastructure and political instability in the country.

What do you think of Haiti's minimum wage? Send us your thoughts and comments on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #AJStream.

These are some highlights of the conversation around the web:

Haiti’s new president Michel Martelly announced a robust plan for Haiti's economic growth and recovery following the 2010 earthquake by welcoming foreign investment and promoting job creation. However, watchdog groups such as Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) are critical, accusing the government of continuing corrupt practices from previous regimes.

Ayiti Kale Je - Haiti Grassroots Watch - Haïti Veedor - Home


According to a new series of articles derived from months of investigation, HGW says foreign investors, armed with billions of dollars in grants, loans and private investment, are creating factories where workers are still being paid sweatshop salaries.

Ayiti Kale Je - Haiti Grassroots Watch - Haïti Veedor - 11_1_eng

'I have a problem with my country. I've been working in factories here for 25 years, and I still don't have my own house.' Pierre-Paul, 5...


HGW's video 'Open for Business' takes the viewer through a typical day of a factory worker, showing that the meager wages of the workers are insufficient to cover the costs of food, transportation and basic supplies they incur.

Uploaded by AyitiKaleJe on Nov 29, 2011

This video looks at a Haitian worker's sweatshop wage and how much it costs to just try to survive in Haiti. It is part of a longer video, and accompanies a seven-part text series, HAITI - 'Open for Business,' published on Nov. 29, 2011, by Haiti Grassroots Watch. Check out the articles and photos -

Wages today in Haiti have 1/3 less buying power than they did 25 years ago. For example, the $3.00 minimum wage in 1982 would only have a buying power of $1.61 today.

The next picture shows the CODEVI free trade zone near the Dominican Republic border. A free trade zone is an area where goods may be handled without the intervention of customs authorities.

The next picture is a rendering of the Sae-A plant, a factory funded by several international donors, including the U.S. government, which contributed approximately $120 million, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton's Clinton Global Initiative.

The Sae-A plant is being built near the site of an important environmental study--a complex ecosystem comprised of forests and the country's longest uninterrupted corral reef.

The next map shows the locations of existing or planned industrial and free trade zone parks. There are over a half-dozen new FTZs and other assembly industry-related projects currently being planned.

The next map shows the Trou du Nord river watershed and the location of the industrial park. It is considered a priority watershed according to a recent study from the United States Agency for International Development. HGW is concerned about the potential of water pollution as a result of the factory.

The following pictures are of garment workers that HGW documented during their investigation.

Haiti Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Lamothe spoke at the INVEST IN HAITI Forum, promoting business opportunities in the apparel manufacturing, tourism, agribusiness and infrastructure sectors.

Uploaded by laurentlamothe on Nov 29, 2011

Laurent Lamothe, Haiti Foreign Affairs Minister speech at INVEST IN HAITI Forum. A event geared towards highlighting profitable business opportunities readily available in Haiti, especially in the apparel manufacturing, tourism, agribusiness and infrastructure sectors.

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AlJazeera English Stream
November 30, 2011
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