Following centuries of deforestation and decades of foreign food imports and natural disasters that have wreaked havoc on Haiti's agricultural sector, gold and other minerals represent one of Haiti's few remaining and unexploited natural resources. While the United States and other governments spend billions on post-earthquake relief and reconstruction, private North American mining companies hope eventually to mine what could be billions of dollars worth of the country's gold, copper and silver deposits.
But if Haiti's often inept and powerless government doesn't successfully regulate these foreign companies, the wealth may be stripped right out from under the Haitians who need it most, critics say. Haiti's mining bureau is underfunded and unprepared to monitor companies, and past handling of foreign investments leaves little confidence in the ability or will of the Haitian government to distribute to the Haitian people what could be hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and royalties companies would be obligated to pay once production begins.
Haiti Grassroots Watch (Ayiti Kale Je in Creole) is a multimedia, multi-language "reconstruction watch" partnership collaboration of two well-known Haitian grassroots media organizations, Groupe Medialternatif/Alterpresse and the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), along with students from the State University of Haiti's Faculty of Human Sciences (FASCH), and members of Haiti's community radio stations. Student and community radio journalists worked on "Haiti: Sitting on a Gold Mine." Haiti Grassroots Watch is based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.