Hoy: Complicity of politicians and military destroys Las Dunas de Baní natural reserve

A report on 22 May 2023 in Hoy newspaper blames the political and military complicity for the continued destruction of the natural reserves known as the Dunes of Baní. The article says that the destruction of the ecological sanctuary results from the historical complicity between politicians, powerful people, the military and civil servants. It says some people seek to buy votes, others receive bribes to turn a blind eye to the situation, and that there has been a lack of political will to act.

Listin Diario has been reporting on the destruction for the Dunes for years. Hoy joins the Listin Diario in the campaign, urging the ministries of Environment and Tourism to take action to stop degrading the protected areas and the buffer zones. The Ministry of Defense has not been mentioned in the reports, neither the Armada that has a base in the vicinity.

The bishop of the Baní diocese, Víctor Masalles says very powerful people related to the military are involved. He believes there should be a complete military body guarding Las Dunas, with a unique and decisive mandate, because otherwise, this sanctuary will cease to be a reserve and a patrimony, not only of Baní and the Dominican Republic, but also of the Caribbean.

He indicates that it would be a shame that now that the South is beginning to develop tourism, when tourists arrive, they will find Las Dunas have been destroyed.

He points out that in other countries where there are dunes, as is the case of Spain, these are used to the maximum with the construction of ecological hotels in their surroundings and that at the same time they function as environmental containment.

He blames the politicians of different governments for giving as plots of land large quantities of land of Las Dunas to make themselves popular and obtain votes.

“If there is not a decided, firm and sustainable policy, then it will be a constant coming and going, of invading, taking advantage and putting control when there are media reports; it is not necessary to arrive to that,” said the leading representative of the Roman Catholic church in the province.

Likewise, the mayor of the municipality of Baní, Santo Ramírez, believes that to prevent Las Dunas from disappearing, permanent sentry boxes at all the entrances, with military personnel, but on a rotating basis to prevent them from being corrupted, need urgently to be installed.

He warns that Las Dunas must be protected at all costs because, in addition to being unique in the area, they are the retaining wall that protects Las Calderas Bay and Salinas from the Caribbean Sea.

He attributes the land occupations in the protected area to the lack of a regime of consequences and suggests that those responsible be brought before the courts to pay for the damages caused.

Architect Ismael Díaz Melo, defender of the environment and natural resources, is concerned about the aggressions against Las Dunas, such as sand extraction, tree felling, and the fencing off of large portions of land.

He underlines that the destruction of Las Dunas means the end of the main natural and tourist patrimony of Baní, but also the disappearance of the Salinas peninsula, Las Calderas, Puerto Hermoso Bay, the salt mine, as well as the mangroves and the fauna.

He proposes creating a definitive management plan for Las Dunas, a kind of board of trustees that includes representatives of Baní, to avoid repeating the same story every so often.

Las Dunas are protected by Decree No. 233-96 and incorporated into the National System of Protected Areas in the General Law of Environment 64-00. They have an area of 23 square kilometers.

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23 May 2023