1994 – Haitians massacred
Haitian soldiers massacred at least 23 fishermen and merchants in the Haitian West coast city of Gonaives following a wave of attacks on Haiti’s pro-democracy movement. The victims included people gathering firewood on the beach and fishermen off shore who were shot by soldiers who commandeered rowboats. Political violence had killed up to 3,000.
Sirona Fuels may not be producing biodiesel in Haiti yet, but the California-based company is certainly getting close. In 2009, Michelle Lacourciere, Director of the Sirona Cares Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Sirona Fuels, started working with Haitian farmers to develop jatropha. “The first year was spent building strong in-country relationships and running test nurseries,” Lacourciere said. Now, she works with more than a thousand farmers, and the nurseries, she said, “can’t produce enough seedlings” to keep up with the farmers. Every eight weeks or so, she makes the long flight from California to Haiti to check in with her farmers. And even now, after the devastating earthquake, she said the farmers are making great progress.
“Our 10 pilot farmers of the jatropha project planted the first seedlings about two weeks before the earthquake,” she said. After the disaster, she says eight out of 10 of the farmers lost everything, including their farms and homes. When she returned to Haiti, Lacourciere said she expected everything to be a total loss, but to her surprise, the farmers had already replanted 20,000 seedlings and were hoping to plant more. “By January, I had gone from 10 farmers to well over a thousand,” she said.