The real issue
As H. Dale Anderson put it in one of his letters to the editor page: “Is bauxite mining compatible with the preservation and utilitarian exploitation of these values, inherent in the area? Many are not convinced, believing instead that mining will despoil the region, adversely affect the life of its inhabitants and seriously reduce its tourism potential. I am one of those. The authorities should therefore make the case for plans for the area - beyond that belatedly articulated by the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI) - so that the public can make an informed and balanced judgment. While welcoming the explanation given by the JBI, two recent newspaper editorials have quite cogently pointed to an inconsistency in the official position. Have the authorities ruled out bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country as a matter of firm policy, or is the possibility to be left open? Maybe, "exploration" is merely to take an inventory of the country's resources. Declaring the Cockpit Country a protected reserve would allay our fears.”
Ordinary Caribbean people are fighting an ‘Eco Battle’ to save the Cockpit Country, in face of very strong profit motives. These motives attract powerful multi-national mining interests, in light of national economic needs, free enterprise and the hope of the local population to have better standards of living, which mining of the Nation’s minerals is promising.
Nevertheless, the history of mining on the Island must be taken into consideration and its historical effects on the health of the local population and the environment. Tourism can also bring health problems to the local population, albeit more manageable.
There are, however, fundamental questions which have not yet been answered by those concerned, and which must be addressed:
1. Has it been shown that all “have been done to bring wealth to the nation and at the same time protect the population health and the environment. If the answer is “yes” - “where is the evidence?”. If such an evidence exist, it should be produced. This should remove the fears of the local population and others concerned.
2. If this evidence does not exist, what is the substantive position of Jamaica’s Government on the question of sustainable environment, relating to mining and its impact on local population health and the environment?;
3. If best practice mining policies exist, is there effective policing of those policies?
4. Is there a Jamaica Inspectorate of Mining and Development, like a ‘watch dog’, as it were, ensuring that best practice is enforced. If not - why not? The Inspectorate could have the responsibility, among others, for dealing with complaints from the public and developing guidelines of best practice for existing and any new mining concerns operating and intend to operate in Jamaica, which would be contractible and enforceable.
5. Is there a law that requires mining companies operating in Jamaica to protect the environment and the health of local people? Self-Help News is not aware of any current laws of this type.
6. The mining companies operating in Jamaica representatives also needed to be contacted and made aware of mining concerns by the local population. Mining companies should be asked for their ethnical and mining policies and their associated responsibilities, relating to the impact of their mining on local population and the environment.
7. What are the factual residual effects on the Jamaican people and the environment caused by foreign mining of the national heritage so far? Are Jamaicans net winners or net losers in such an enterprise? Have successive Government Health and Environment Departments collected these vital statistics. Have the statistics stored, up-dated and ready for public perusals?
Environmental issues at any part of the world are the concerns of all reasonable and responsible citizen of the world. Global warming, floods, increased hurricanes, ecological poisoning have no respect for persons.
We are all potential victims, whatever our ethnicity, gender, age, religion, social and economic backgrounds and party political affiliations. One of the priorities is to save Cockpit Country; but not at the expense of the development of the local population.
This is also applicable to government and miners. Mineral extractions must not be at the expense of the local population and the environment. There needs to be a fine balance. With co-operation and good commonsense among all the players, this balance can and must be achieved.
Save the Cockpit Country. It is the right thing to do.
Self-Help News—”Giving Voice to the Voiceless”
Save Cockpit Country International Petition
For those who wish to sign a petition to save Cockpit Country can find
one on-line. Click here to access and sign the Petition.
Special Report Continued
Jamaica’s Eco Warriors Call for Support in Their Fight Against Bad Environmental Practices