Caribbean Sustainable and Eco tourism -Tourisme Durable et Envir

[Fwd: [URGENT NOTICE: PLAN FOR DESTRUCTION AND FRAGMENTATION OF PARQUE NACIONAL DEL ESTE-DOM REP]

From: Yacine Khelladi <yacine@YACINE.NET>
Date: Tue Mar 23 2004 - 07:36:37 AST

From: Fundación Amigos del Parque Nacional del Este
<Ecoparque@codetel.net.do>

Dear friends:

This is a translation of a message sent in Spanish to other friends.
Also, I will be sending you several e-mails to keep all of you posted
about the increase threat of Parque Nacional Del Este in the Dominican
Republic, and count with your help and support. However, I will give you
a briefly summary at this point about the situation, and later on I will
send you a complete report and details of this plan in English.

I guess that some of you know the Parque Nacional Del Este because some
of you have worked and visited such important National Park. Since, the
year 2000, there a big pressure to take out two lots from the area that
composed the National Park. This areas are the Parcela 24A, 20, and 25
(see images attach to this e-mail). These plots are located in the
Guaraguao Sector between Guaraguao and La Tortuga.

The person behind that is Juan Jose Hidargo "big Spanish business man"
President of the Air Europa and Globalia Company. He wants to construct
a big resort called Gran Palace Beach Resort with 1200 rooms, which was
approved by the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic.

In addition, Mr Hidargo is using his economic power and political
influences to conduct such plan. Moreover, the Dominican Government
(Ing. Hipolito Mejia) has approved such construction by the Executive
Order (Decree). However, a lot of people are opposing such plan because
we now have an environmental Law, which state that: Once a National Park
is declared its limits can not be modified. The modification of its
limits could only be done through the National Congress by another Law.

Nevertheless, the government using his political influences, power, and
taking advantage that the government party has the mayor representation
in the Congress has submitted a Project Law to the Congress to reduce
and modify the park limits. As you can see there are a lot of interests
(political and economical). However, due to the strengths of the
environmental movement the Congress have slow down the approbation of
the Law to reduce the park limits and allow touring development.

In February 2004, the Dominican Congress called for a public hearing to
discuss such Law project and gets a consensus. This public hearing was
very interesting due to the differences of opinion between the NGO´s,
communities, park authorities, local authorities, and the political
people. Also, it was very educative for most people.

The public hearing started at 10:00 AM and last until 4:00 PM. It was a
very hot debate among all participants. In addition, we believe that
perhaps there was a big money moving around because lots of people that
were previously park’s support favored the construction in the public
hearing under the argumentation that this region have a lot of poverty,
and that this new project would create a lot of employment, and good
will for the communities. Also, that the government never paid them for
their land that was taken from them. I guess that you should know what
was the argument of the people of the environmental sector (biologists,
ecologists, conservationists, naturalist, natural lovers, sciencetists,
NGO's, and other members of the communities that depend of the natural
resources of the park for living). Moreover, we suppose that they have
been some tentative offer to some local authorities, and politics
because they have been writing in the newspaper (paid ads) to support
the construction of the hotels, and reduce de park area.

Also, this year we have presidential election and the government is
using the argument that this foreign investment can contribute to the
economic develop of the country. In addition, some local authorities are
promising to people who claim to be owners of the land at the national
park that if they support the hotel construction they can have the land
back and sell to the investors. The square meter on the beach area near
the park are figured about US$65 to 85 dollar per square meter, so now
many persons are looking to be certified as owner of the land of the park.

Even though the results of the Public hearing of the National Congress
was 85% in favor to protect the park and not to reduce their limits, We
believe that he Congress should not approve the new law project.
However, the economic and political pressure continues, and in this week
the Congress is supposed to vote and approve the new law or just revoke it.

On the other hand, At this critical moment when the Parque Nacional del
Este needs more support and help, The Nature Conservancy has suspended
all the funds to Fondo Pro Naturaleza (PRONATURA) as well as the
projects that PRONATURA and ECOPARQUE were conducting in collaboration,
and cooperation without a written notice in advanced, without giving us
technical assistance and in violation of the Partnership Agreement
between TNC and PRONATURA. Therefore, La Fundacion Amigos del Parque
Nacional Del Este (ECOPARQUE) had to close its office at Bayahibe (the
closer community to the park) because we could not afford to pay the
rent, phone, fax, electricity, gas, etc.

As some of you know, PRONATURA is an umbrella NGO (like a National
Trustee), which receive donation from USAID, TNC, and UNDP. Before,
PRONATURA passed part of this funds to ECOPARQUE (the local community
based NGO near the park) to work in the protection of Parque Nacional
Del Este in cooperation and collaboration with PRONATURA and others
organizations. In this case, ECOPARQUE was the executive NGO of the
projects, and PRONATURA gave the money to ECOPARQUE to develop the
project and community activities.

Since November of last year, ECOPARQUE does not have office neither
funds to continue supporting nor defending the Parque Nacional Del Este.
Most of our members are putting some money from their pocket to defense
the park, but we do not have enough to keep our presence near the park.
We should point out that the Asociacion de Hoteles La Romana-Bayahibe
has been supporting us during this time.

Finally, we want to call the attention to all ECOPARQUE's Friends as
well as all the people identified with the cause of protecting the
Parque Nacional del Este to support us in anyway, you can, by sending us
money contribution, putting us in contact with donors, exploring joined
project ideas or others. We do not have funds to continuing supporting
the Parque Nacional Del Este neither we can not afford to spend our
money. Therefore, we will appreciate any help and support.

We will appreciate your generosity and support. Thanks in advance.

Truly

Kelvin A. Guerrero, M.S.
Executive Director of ECOPARQUE
Received on Tue Mar 23 08:12:57 2004

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