While land disputes have long been a problem in Haiti, particularly when they hampered rebuilding efforts, they have become increasingly worse on the island of Ile-a-Vache. In hopes of drawing tourists to the country and improving its poor economy, the Haitian government has been destroying Ile-a-Vache residents’ livelihoods to make room for tourist attractions and an airport. The residents are angry and demand their rights but the current political crisis means that President Martelly may become the sole decider of those rights.
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Five years after the earthquake, Haiti remains on unsteady ground
Jacob Kushner, Global Post
January 12, 2015
ILE-A-VACHE, Haiti — One day in October, 81-year-old Mascary Mesura was working in his garden of corn and coconut trees when the mayor of this small island off the southern coast of Haiti approached and told him to get out of the way.
“He said ‘the tractors are coming. We are going to build a lake to grow fish,’” says Mesura. “I asked for an explanation. I told him all the things we grow there. I was standing in my garden and he told the tractor to advance.”
The mayor, Fritz César, stood and watched while police handcuffed Mesura and his wife, forcing them to watch as their livelihood was uprooted, all 28 of their coconut trees toppled to make room for a fish pond to feed tourists.
The demolition was part of the Haitian government’s $260 million plan to develop Ile-a-Vache into a Caribbean tourism destination akin to the Bahamas or St. Martin.
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