August 27, 2019. Montego Bay, Jamaica. Stakeholders representing independently-owned and operated micro & small enterprises (MSEs) within Western parishes gathered at the Rastafari Indigenous Village, located in Montego Bay on Sunday, August 25, 2019 as a special feature of the IRITS cultural festival.
The IRITS festival is a celebration of all things Jamaican; it is held on the last Sunday of each month to share culture as follows: music, wellness, ital cuisine & environmental concerns. The meeting, hosted by Rastafari Indigenous Village and facilitated by Hugh Dixon, was a Call for Clarity to mobilize around a Cockpit Country Forum to ‘Reason’ and understand the issues related to mining in the Cockpit Country.
Hugh Dixon, Executive Director, Southern Trelawny Environment Agency (STEA) gave an informative PowerPoint presentation on the history, heritage and socio-economic situations surrounding the recent activities related to mining within the community.
He showed several maps of Jamaica and highlighted the territory which clearly delineated the Cockpit Country and its boundaries as declared by the Cockpit Country Stakeholder Group (CCSG) separate and distinct from the government’s boundary of the Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA). The Cockpit Country stretches through the parishes of: St. James, Trelawny, St. Ann, Manchester and St. Elizabeth. Dixon declared that within the Transition Zone approximately 70,000 residents will be impacted. Bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country transition zone will set us up to “lose our livelihoods to a foreign interest that used to suppress us; our people will be disenfranchised and our economy disrupted.”
The November 2017 declaration of the official Cockpit Country Protected Area Boundary by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, MP did not include a large section of the northeast Cockpit Country, which is a birding and ecotourism ‘hotspot’ and sits over critical underground water resources that feed the Martha Brae & Rio Bueno. These lands which so many experts, stakeholders, and residents, and the CCSG agree are part of the Cockpit Country were not included in the representation. This area is now classified by the government and its mining partner Noranda Bauxite as Special Mining Lease Area 173. This has become a major source of contention and discontent, which has caused Cockpit Country residents, stakeholders, institutions and sympathizers to be campaigning once again for “No Mining in Cockpit County Landscape.” All parties have taken the stance that there will be “No Retreat, No Surrender!” on this demand.
Most ecotourism activities operating in Western parishes will be negatively impacted by mining activities.
The Call was made for a peaceful Demonstration for “No Mining in Cockpit Country Landscape” at Gordon House, the House of Parliament at 81 Duke Street, Kingston on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. Concerned citizens from all Parishes are being invited to participate in protest action against the government & Noranda Bauxite moving into the Cockpit Country Landscape to mine bauxite.
Caption: Endemic fauna
Coalition Contact numbers: (St. James) 876-330-3978; (Hanover & Negril) 876-275-3169; (Kingston) 876-420-5103 & (Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency) 876-393-6584.
Caption: Euphoebia punic