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Ile a Vache, Robert Dietrich: An Open Letter to President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe


The following is an open letter from Robert Dietrich, the vice-president of Abaka Bay Resort S.A., one of the two main hotels on Ile à Vache, just off the southern city of Aux Cayes.

April 2, 2014

Dear Sirs,

Both of you know me and that I am a social worker and the principal investor in the Abaka Bay Resort S.A.. I have met with both of you and presented to you the blueprints for what you and Haiti's Tourism Ministry now call the Ile à Vache project.

I first visited Ile à Vache in December 2001 for my first wedding anniversary with my ex-wife Melissa Dietrich and her parents, Fernand Sajous (Georges Sajousse) and his wife Dinah Sajous. Smitten by the beauty of the beach at Andes Defur, I decided to partner with my wife and in-laws in beginning the long process of buying land and establishing Abaka Bay Resort, in which the four of us each have a 25% stake.

I drew on my life savings and even my children's college fund to furnish most of the capital needed to establish Abaka Bay and then to draw up a master plan for touristic development of Ile à Vache. To make a long story short, after you were elected President, Mr. Martelly, you had your lawyer, Gary Lissade, collude with my father-in-law, Fernand Sajous, in an attempt to first buy me out and then force me out of Abaka Bay Resort. Having used your dubiously won elected power to horn in on our Ile à Vache hotel, you are now promoting the island's development as a project to benefit its residents and Haiti, when in fact you are simply working to enrich yourself.

This underhanded way in which you have dealt with a well-intentioned international investor like myself belies the slogan of your regime: "Haiti is open for business." Who could possibly believe that now?

I am appalled at the way you are today treating my former neighbors, the inhabitants of Ile à Vache. My vision had been to attract tourism and investors to the island, but only in complete transparency, cooperation, fair dealing, and respect for the island's residents. Instead, you and your officials are lying to the island's people, expropriating them from their land, unilaterally bulldozing their forest, land, and homes, and then terrorizing and brutalizing them with heavily-armed militarized police when they protest. I had seen the Ile à Vache project as a way to give back to Haiti, not to take from her yet again.

Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister, as you both know, I am a Christian and the Bible says in Proverbs 3:27-28/27: "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act." Those were the words that compelled me to invest in Haiti and her people. But today, you have perverted this mission, turning it into merely a profit-driven enterprise to benefit you and your associates.

I urge you to step back, respect the wishes of the people of Ile à Vache, and not attempt to force your vision of "development" down their throats.


Robert Dietrich
Vice President, Abaka Bay Resort S.A.

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