by Jonathan M. Katz. Originally posted at Al Jazeera America
A cornerstone of post-earthquake ‘reconstruction’, the Caracol park is not living up to its backers’ lofty promises
CARACOL, Haiti — The young men playing dominoes in this tin-roofed fishing village used to have high hopes for the industrial park being built up the road. They had heard of the U.S. government’s plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a part of Haiti where most people are barely scraping by, and promises from a South Korean garment manufacturer to create tens of thousands of jobs.
But less than a year after Caracol Industrial Park’s gala opening — with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sean Penn, designer Donna Karan and Haiti’s current and former presidents among the guests — the feeling these days is disappointment. Hundreds of smallholder farmers were coaxed into giving up more than 600 acres of land for the complex, yet nearly 95 percent of that land remains unused. A much-needed power plant was completed on the site, supplying the town with more electricity than ever, but locals say surges of wastewater have caused floods and spoiled crops.