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7039: Haiti And Cuba: Sugarmill (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>

Feb. 15, 2001
Workers World


By G. Dunkel

Relations between Cuba and Haiti took a warm step forward
with the reopening of the Darbonne sugar mill near Leogane,
Haiti, on Jan. 25. The mill, closed since the fall of
dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986, was reopened with
Cuba's help.

High-level delegations from both Caribbean nations attended
the ceremony. The plant was renamed the Jean Leopold
Dominique Mill, after a progressive Haitian journalist who
was recently murdered by unknown assassins. Dominique had
campaigned for Haiti to strengthen its own sugar production.

President René Preval led the Haitian delegation. Commandant
Jean Almeida Bosque, vice-president of the State Council,
led Cuba's. Juan Carlos Robinson, a leading member of the
Cuban Communist Party from Oriente province, was also part
of the delegation.

Welcoming the Cubans at the airport, Preval said: "If we had
had to pay a company to get this mill running, it would have
cost us 10 or 20 times more. Additionally, this is the first
time in a long time that Haiti has produced its own sugar--
something very symbolic.

"So I think that the restoration of this mill is first of
all the result of friendship, but also the result of the
struggle of the peasants."

It took eight months and about $2.5 million to get the mill
up and running. Most of the work was done by Cuban
technicians, aided by their Haitian colleagues--some of whom
got their training in Cuba.


Robinson put the cooperation between Haiti and Cuba in the
framework of solidarity and recognition of the role Haiti
has played in history.

"This sugar and syrup plant is only a minimal part of the
debt Cuba owes the people of Haiti," Robinson said. "We owe
Haiti the energy which allowed us to undertake the struggle
for our independence. It is the flesh and the sweat of
Haitians taken together which has permitted us to gradually
develop Oriente and which has led to the richness we have

Bosque said he did not consider this work as a favor for
Haiti, but as a gesture of thanks and a compliment from the
Cuban people.

"It is a country for which we feel a tenderness and a
profound love and much admiration. When we were young, the
struggle of Haitians for their independence inspired us. All
their deeds remain indelible in our memory."

The opening of the sugar mill is just part of the growing
cooperation between Haiti and Cuba in the domains of
fisheries, agriculture, health and education. As far back as
1999, peasants associations in small, remote Haitian
villages signed agreements with the Cuban Ministry of
Agriculture for assistance with low-tech organic agriculture
and alternative energy projects.

The Dominique Mill will provide jobs for 250 workers in the
plant as well as 2,000 part-time cane cutters. If more
plants reopen, more Haitians will have steady jobs and
thousands of cane cutters won't be forced to go to the
Dominican Republic to find work.

The United States has spent $2 billion in Haiti since 1995--
for a military occupation, to build a police force to
Washington's liking, for demonstration projects like fancy
schools for children of wealthy Haitians, and especially for
strengthening right-wing political groups. But none of it
went to building Haiti's economy or creating jobs for
unemployed workers and peasants.