December 6, 2011
Haiti Is Open for Business, but Should It Be? — Haiti Grassroots Watch

President Michel Martelly announcing a new industrial zone for Haiti. Photo source: Haiti Grassroots Watch


Haiti Grassroots Watch, a collaboration of Haitian grassroots journalists and radio broadcasters, seeking to give voice to Haiti’s poor in the reconstruction process,  has just released another series of exposes of the dynamics behind Haiti’s reconstruction.  Editorializing below about recent events proclaiming a new factory zone for Haiti, the dossier continues with voluminous reporting in separate articles (links below). 


“‘Haiti is open for business.’  President Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly’s marching orders. 


“Earlier this week Martelly, ex-President Bill Clinton, and other major players inaugurated the “model project” for the reconstruction and for what Martelly and his speech-writers have called a “new” Haiti – a giant industrial park where foreign companies will hire Haitian workers at sweatshop-wage levels.


“Will these projects really deliver something new?  Can a country be ‘reconstructed’ on the backs of $5-a-day wages?


“The park is being built with over US$120 million in US taxpayer dollars. Does it make sense for taxpayer dollars to subsidize the foreign companies who sew clothing for GAP, Wal-Mart, Banana Republic, K-Mart and other US chains?  


“Is helping US corporations off-shore more jobs to countries like Haiti really positive ‘change’ (presidents of both countries have used that word) for the citizens of the US and Haiti?


“Aren’t the ‘1 percent’ already raking in enough? 


“Not one major media outlet – in Haiti or overseas – has asked these questions. Indeed, many journalists have been cheerleaders. 


“But the ‘new’ Haiti has definite winners and losers. 


“Haiti Grassroots Watch spent months on an investigation and, among other findings, discovered that:


“* Haitian workers earn less today than they did under the Duvalier dictatorship and over one-half the average daily wage is used up lunch and by transportation to and from work. 


“* Haiti and its neighbors have all tried the “sweatshop-led” development model – and it has mostly not delivered on its promises. 


“* The new industrial park for the north does not come without costs and risks: Massive population influx, pressure on the water table, loss of agricultural land, and it’s being built steps from an area formerly slated to become a ‘marine protected area.’


Individual articles include: 


1 – Salaries in the “new” Haiti

2 – Anti-union, pro-“race to the bottom”

3 – Why is Haiti “attractive”?

4 – What’s planned for Haiti?

5 – Stepping stone or dead end? Experiences in other countries

6 – The case of Caracol

7 – Industrial Park in Caracol: A “win-win” situation?


To learn more, to see photos and to watch a video, please visit: or 


Haiti Grassroots Watch  is a collaboration of two Haitian grassroots media organizations, Groupe Medialternatif/Alterpresse and the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), along with two networks – the network of women community radio broadcasters (REFRAKA) and the Association of Haitian Community Media (AMEKA), which is comprised of community radio stations located across the country. The effort focuses on “watchdogging” the aid and reconstruction from the point of view of Haiti’s majority, at the same time as it also provides historical and political context, examines structural causes and challenges…” For more information contact:

Excerpted from