After doing a helicopter round over Hondo Valle, a town on the Dominican side of the border with Haiti, Dominican President Danilo Medina remarked that it was sad to fly over the area. Hondo Valle enjoys one of the most unique climates in the Caribbean, making it a year-long spring valley, but that may all come to an end within a decade as depredation of trees near the border does completely away with the area's environmental future.
When Mr. Medina landed in Hondo Valle to speak with local residents, he told them that they needed to take urgent action to prevent the same deforestation which has led to Haiti becoming a collapsed state, destroying the unique climate of the island of Hispaniola's spring valleys.
Part of the motivation for Mr. Medina's surprise visit to the region was to prevent unplanned urbanization in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo. Mr. Medina warned that migrants abandoning their homes in the once-lush countryside for single-bedroom apartments in Santo Domingo's marginalized neighborhoods was the direct result of rising deforestation, which has inevitably led to a total collapse of the local agrarian economy.
The mild-mannered economist broke from his usually affective tone, warning that those caught chopping down trees would be imprisoned.
|The death of the Republic on a truckbed. Telenoticias|
In the past, park rangers would have simply confiscated the contraband, something which was already unpopular and has in the past led to rangers being killed.
The logging gangs are simply too wealthy for local authorities to take on, since the amount of money which they can use for bribes means only the army could successfully go after them.
Although a military solution should be the last resort in the face of any crisis involving civilian affairs, the Dominican Republic faces the prospect of turning into a failed state, with Santiago and Santo Domingo becoming mega-cities surrounded by large slums, and the rest of the country left completely barren, to be stripped to the core by international mining conglomerates.
Promising to implement a multi-million dollar reforestation plan, Mr. Medina urged the people of Hondo Valle to work with body and soul in the pursuit of a future where trees once again dot the horizon. Hopefully they succeed, since failure means losing everything.