MÔLE ST. NICOLAS
Beauty, History and Potentialities
By: Irving Elizee, C. E.
Chairman of MOTION - Mole Saint Nicolas in Action
Môle Saint Nicolas is located in the Peninsula of the Northwest section of Haiti. It is located 50 miles from Baracoa Cuba and 800 miles from Miami. Although the area is very remote, it can be accessed by plane; the landing field has been improved to accommodate 10- to 12-passenger planes (it is a 3-hour flight from Florida). It can also be accessed using 4-wheel drive vehicles (a 7-hour drive from Port-au-Prince) and of course by boat.
The Môle St. Nicolas peninsula is facing the famous Windward Passage, the Gibraltar of the New World that connects North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Sea. The Windward Passage is well known for its strong wind, however the beautiful bay of Môle St. Nicolas is well protected and continues to be used as shelter for barges, merchant ships and luxury yachts passing by in hurricane times. Besides the bay, the sandy white beaches are very exquisite and are said to possess medicinal values. The waters in some areas are very deep (more than 700 feet of water between Guantanamo and the windward passage). The many fishing spots and coral reefs create a real paradise for anglers and divers.
In the morning of December 6, 1492, Christopher Columbus called the area "Maravillosa": Wonderful. At the time, 85% percent of the region was covered with dense tropical forests... Now, less than 5% remains wooded. Due to its strategic importance, Môle St. Nicolas and its peninsula have always been the battlefields of colonialist powers, British, French and Spanish. Currently, Uncle Sam is keeping a close eye on that geo-strategical area (31 miles from the Guantanamo base). It also used to be a piratesí haven; today, it has become a rallying point for refugees launching boats to Florida.
Since 1804, almost every Haïtian government has used Môle St. Nicolas to pursue its own interests in the international market. The town itself is well designed, but the desolation can not be hidden. Approximately 4,000 people live in the city and the majority of them rely on fishing and charcoal activities as means of survival. Potable water is flowing, but electrical power is non-existent. The district of Môle St. Nicolas including Jean Rabel, Bombardopolis, Baie de Henne and other suburbs such as Mare-Rouge, is one of Haitiís poorest regions.
However, the potentialities for economic development of the northwestern peninsula are widespread:
Vestiges of ancient colonial forts can be found almost everywhere; in Batteries de Vallières, Fort George, St. Charles, La Poudrière, Le Fort Allemand, Les Ramparts, etc. With its breath taking panorama and historic forts, Môle Saint Nicolas would be the perfect place to develop a multi-million dollar Eco-tourism project. Of course, the local environment and infrastructure would need to be greatly improved.
A tourist village with local touch designed to host convalescent European and North American tourists could be built in the area. With the appropriate infrastructure in place, ferry boats could be used to transport tourists from Môle St. Nicolas to the tourist Cuban town of Baracoa; it is only a 1.5-hour trip.
Why not having a National Park in the area??? A reforestation project could be implemented using native plants such as Campèche and imported Neem trees. The land is dry, but an hydraulic distribution system is in place and can be easily expanded.
The peninsula could also be used for the generation of wind energy. It has several elevations facing the windward passage. An average wind speed of 20 miles per hour is common in a regular day.
Baring some improvements, the port (wharf) of St. Nicolas could become a " port de relais" for the merchant boats between the Americas, an open port to the international market. With a meticulous planning emphasizing tourism, environment and light industry, a free zone area could be created...
Other possibilities associated with private investments are related to farming, agro-industry and pisciculture. The area is well known for its fishing potential. Due to its connection to the gulf stream current, the windward passage is a major fish migration route. As reported by local fishermen, this gold mine is currently being exploited by illegal foreign fishing operations that are taking advantage of the lack of Haïtian coastal protection (the coast guard is almost non-existent).
History and natural beauty are the characteristics of Môle Saint Nicolas, Haitiís oldest city. However, numerous investment opportunities exist. The local inhabitants would only profit from such economic development; the food crisis and the chronic drought that the far-west is experiencing have become a way of life. Land mismanagement and a lack of technical support from our intellectual elite only add to this state of misery. "Food for work" programs are short-term emergency patch works while the area is in need of lasting solutions. Letís encourage actions over bureaucracy, more volunteer organizations and real economic investments for a better life. Môle St. Nicolas, as other places in the far-west, could become the turning point for long-term economic development. It is our challenge to make you rediscover that forgotten place of Haiti.