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Pulitzer Center Update June 21, 2012

"Gold Rush in Haiti! Who Will Get Rich?" Causing Stir in Haiti and Beyond

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Haiti’s north is rich with mineral deposits that could infuse millions into the nation’s ailing...

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Multiple Authors
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A new Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) report on Haiti's "gold rush," produced with support from the Pulitzer Center, is causing a stir in Haiti and Haitian media around the globe.

In newsrooms across the capital, in the courtyards of the battered state university faculties, journalists and students hunch over well-thumbed copies of Haïti Liberté, which partnered with the Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) consortium for the distribution of the French and English versions of the multi-part series. The May 30, 2012, and June 6, 2012, editions of the Haitian-American weekly sold out within two days.

Within a few days of being released in French and English by HGW and the weekly, as well as with a Democracy Now! interview and a summary article in The Guardian, the text versions, the English version of the video, and the Creole audio program were being seen, read and heard by a broad audience. The HGW website received thousands of visitors over the span of a week – many from Haiti – who spent almost four minutes each on the site, a long time for web viewers.

In Haiti, the audio report , produced by one of the HGW partners, SAKS, was played several times by the popular Radio Kiskeya, which reaches audiences throughout the nation of 10 million, as well as thousands of listeners overseas. The program also went out to some 40 local and community radio stations in all 10 of Haiti's departments or provinces. These small, bare-bones-operation stations get the CDs delivered by jitney and motorcycle drivers and also via an "airmail" service on one of the local airlines. In the U.S., radio shows like Haiti Focus at WMBR (hosted by MIT in Boston) used the audio version, the articles and audio from the Democracy Now! interview for two Sundays in a row in early June. On June 14, 2012, the English-language program, Haiti – The Struggle Continues on WBAI in New York City also did a 40-minute segment based on the HGW report.

Several radio stations in Haiti have had extensive interviews with members of the reporting team, which included four farmers who volunteer at two community radio stations in the north, a student at the state university, and three journalists originally from the United States. Magik 9, the station run by the Haitian daily Le Nouvelliste, hosted a half-hour program on June 8, 2012, and the Protestant station Radio Lumière has an interview scheduled as well.

In addition to appearing in Haïti Liberté, the series appeared on the AlterPresse website. AlterPresse, one of the HGW partners, is an important source of news and information of the dozens of radio stations in the capital, as well as for Haitians and francophone friends of Haiti worldwide. The New York-based online Haitian Times and numerous blogs and aggregator sites – like Haiti Rewired and Truth-out – also carried the entire series or parts of it in French as well as English.

On June 5, 2012, attendees of a three-day forum called "Social and Environmental Justice for Haiti" received printed photocopies of the French version. The delegates of peasant, environmental and local development organizations also used the article as the basis for a workshop at the forum.

Organized by several Haitian organizations, including the Haitian Platform for an Alternative Development (PAPDA), the National Association of Haitian Agronomists (ANDAH) and the Institute for Animation and Technology (ITEKA) which works with rural communities and peasant associations, the forum prepared a statement for the People's Summit for Environmental and Social Justice, being held in Rio de Janeiro June 15-23, 2012 parallel to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20.

As a result of the HGW report, PAPDA director Camille Chalmers also decided to deliver a talk on Haiti's gold rush, using materials and a PowerPoint presentation prepared from the report.

PAPDA and several Haitian or Haiti-based organizations – like the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and the Haitian legal aid and human rights group Défenseurs des Opprimés (Defenders of the Oppressed) – are in the process of forming a coalition that plans to reach out to all the concerned rural communities and organizations as well as doing advocacy work in the capital.

The Creole version of the video – released on June 18, 2012, – will be featured on July 28, 2012, at the Foundation for Liberty and Knowledge theater as part of the film series "Verite sou Tanbou" ("Truth on the Drum"). Additional screenings are planned in June and July at the State University of Haiti in the capital, as well as at the two community radio stations whose members participated in the 10-month investigation.

On June 19, Free Speech Radio profiled the rise in foreign companies in rural Haitian communities as a result of the gold rush, and its potential environmental and social consequences.

So far, none of the state or mining company actors who appear in the series have chosen to speak to the press, nor has whistle-blower and former state mining agency director Dieuseul Anglade been reinstated to his post.

Additional links related to French version:

Ruee vers l'or en Haiti! Kiyes k ap vin rich? on Haiti Liberte
Haiti-Ressources minieres: A qui profiteront les milliards du sous-sol Haitien?
La sombre histoire d'une Haiti "ouverte aux affaires"
La ruee vers l'or en Haiti. Qui va s'enrichir?
Ruee vers l'or en Haiti! Kiyes k ap vin rich? on Rapadoo Observateur
Ruee vers l'or en Haiti! Kiyes k ap vinn rich? on Haiti Headlines
Ruee vers l'or en Haiti! Kiyes k ap vinn rich? on Haiti Monde
Ruee vers l'or en Haiti! Kiyes k ap vin rich? on Canada Haiti Action Network