Flotsam, Reservoir Intake area at Lake Peligre Dam, Haiti. 2009
This is a different kind of music. It is about obstruction and constriction. About willful scratching against the comfort and security of water and energy. The Peligre Dam project was suggested during the USA’s occupation of Haiti in the 1930s, with the usual push from financial, corporate and agroindustrial forces. Construction (by a US company, Brown & Root of Texas) began in 1956, and the dam went online in 1971 with promises for a transformed agricultural and industrial Haitian economy and ample power for the majority of Haiti’s population. Not so.
The dam displaced over a million people. In turn this resulted in accelerating denudation of the surrounding hills, triggered a domino effect of disease that ultimately led to an epidemic of AIDs and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, swelled slum populations in Port au Prince and perhaps even renewed a reverse migration: throughout its history, the island’s population has followed a pattern of seeking refuge in its deep and inaccessible hills and mountains when faced with insurmountable adversity and trauma.
Now, the dam is less than 60% efficient because of dense surface debris and silting near the intake area – both the result of denudation and environmental pollution. Plans are afoot to clean up the lake, but mainly because more electricity is needed by Port Au Prince’s growing industrial complex.
Always the underdogs in Haiti’s political theatre, the countryfolk still go without a reliable supply of energy or water from the Peligre Dam. They make music in the dark. [read more here]
Canon 5D MKII, EF 35mm 1.4L USM lens, post processed in Lightroom