16th Ecotourism and Production Fair FOR AN ECOTOURISM AND CULTURAL MUNICIPALITY! SAN JUAN DE LA MAGUANA Centre of the Indigenous Culture of the Caribbean 18 to 28 October 2012 Provinces San Juan-Elías Piña (Region El Valle) Dominican Republic
Guest of Honor: FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY
INTERNATIONAL SPECIAL GUESTS: DEPARTMENTS OF CENTRE, ARTIBONITE AND WEST, HAITI -STATES AND PEOPLES OF THE GREATER CARIBBEAN, TIANGUIS INDIGENA (Mexico), REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA
Science and Art Foundation , Inc. SAN JUAN DE LA MAGUANA 16th Ecotourism and Production Fair FOR AN ECOTOURISM AND CULTURAL MUNICIPALITY!
The 16th Ecotourism and Production Fair will be held in the beautiful, productive and hospitable municipality of San Juan de la Maguana where history, culture and dreams combine to weave, with collective effort, a better tomorrow. The municipality is located in the centre of the island Hispaniola or Quisqueya, which includes the Dominican Republic in the East, and the Republic of Haiti in the West. The Municipality of San Juan de la Maguana, bathed by the Rio San Juan and located at a distance of 200 kilometers from the city of Santo Domingo, glides like a stream of fresh water through a beautiful and rich valley, flanked by the Cordillera Central and the Sierra of Neyba. The Municipality of San Juan de la Maguana is covered with a magnificent clear blue sky almost all the year and is located in the heart of various ecosystems, with crops, mountains national parks and forests, with crystal clear waters that descend from the highest peaks of the island and irrigate productive soils as well as the remnants of Taino indigenous culture that are present throughout its geography. The breezes of the mountains ride alongside hymns and spiritual beliefs nested in the soul of its people. The fair will be held from 18 to 28 October 2012, at a time that preserves autumnal colours and temperatures that characterize its nature and climate for most of the year.
Guest of Honor: Federal Republic of Germany It is an honour for the Science and Art Foundation that Germany has accepted to become the guest of honour of the 16th Ecotourism and Production Fair. The importance of the ecology issue in German politics is highly recognized. Germany has also developed innovations in the rational use of natural resources that have gained a position of world leadership in such a decisive field for the life of the planet. The response of the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Dominican Republic, His Excellency Dr. Thomas C. Bruns, at the request of the Science and Art Foundation and the Municipality of San Juan de la Maguana states: ¨ The Federal Republic of Germany is very proud to have been chosen as the guest of honor of the upcoming Ecotourism and Production Fair and will be present from 18 to 28 October 2012 with all its knowledge and innovative smart technologies, and in all its diversity¨. Similarly, the participation in the organization and promotion of the fair of the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) in the Dominican Republic will contribute to increase the educative level of the fair. The fair will also have the Departments of Artibonite, of the Centre and the West of Haiti, Tianguis Indigena of Mexico and peoples and States of the Greater Caribbean as SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL GUESTS. It also has as Host Municipalities those of the provinces of San Juan and Elías Piña. In the same way, it will integrate in its cultural and scientific activities the others municipalities of the Southwest of the country, as well as the special participation of its border provinces as: Santiago, La Vega, Santiago Rodriguez, Bahoruco and Azua. Why San Juan de la Maguana? In the closing ceremony of the 15th version of the Ecotourism and Production Fair that took place last year in the Municipality of Hondo Valle, beautiful village that lives in the heart of the Sierra of Neyba, and belongs to the province of Elías Piña, it was agreed, at the request of the Honourable City Hall of San Juan de la Maguana, that the 16th Ecotourism and Production Fair would take place in such an important city, capital of the Province of San Juan, in Region El Valle, located in the western part of the Dominican Republic. The Province of Elías Piña would also be host of the fair . Due to the characteristics of the Municipality of San Juan de la Maguana, and after several meetings with the Honourable Mayor, Mrs. Hanoi Sanchez and part of her staff, it was agreed that the fair would have the motto: ! FOR AN ECOTOURISM AND CULTURAL MUNICIPALITY! The town combines indeed perfectly its history, its indigenous roots and traces, its rich agricultural production, its architecture, its carnival and other cultural events as well as national parks and its University Centre of the Western Region (CUROUASD). These factors can project the town, both internally and externally, as an important centre of ecotourism in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. The town of San Juan de la Maguana was founded in 1503. It is so one of the first towns built on the island following the Spanish colonization which started in 1492. Its name expresses initially the symbiosis of two cultures: San Juan because of San Juan Bautista and Maguana because of the Taino name of the valley where it belongs. Besides being
located in the geographic centre of indigenous culture of the island Hispaniola, San Juan de la Maguana was during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, an important bridge of commercial and cultural communication between Haiti and the eastern territory of the island that from February 27, 1844, date of its independence, was called Dominican Republic. In the municipality and in the province there are different deep rooted religious expressions, particularly in rural communities. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they received an important Lebanese immigration, that gave to this region a multiethnic and multicultural character. For its existing infrastructures - hotels, restaurants, rooms in family houses, access roads to national parks, rivers, waterfalls and the Pico Duarte (the highest in the Caribbean islands, with 3087 or 3098 m, depending on the source), this thriving city is now the main place of visitation of the beautiful region called El Valle. The Pico Duarte is visited from San Juan Province, starting from the Sabaneta Dam going through Alto de la Rosa, Agüita Fria, Macutico, La Pelona and Vallecito de Lilis, in a three-day trek through the sinuous roads and beautiful scenery of the Cordillera Central. The San Juan Province covers a total area of 3569.39 square kilometers, the largest geographically of the thirty-two provinces of the Dominican Republic. It is part, together with Elias Piña Province, in the west, of the Region El Valle. Its border provinces are: Bahoruco in the south, Azua, in the east, and La Vega, Santiago and Santiago Rodriguez, in the north. It is rich in biodiversity and water, and there are in its territory three national parks: Juan Ulises García Bonelly (the closest to San Juan de la Maguana, including the hills of Jacayo with preserved forests, and mountains La Guarda Raya and La Pascuala, badly hit by the irrational use of resources), Jose del Carmen Ramirez and Jose Armando Bermudez. The rivers San Juan, Yaque del Sur, Sabaneta, Macasias and Mijo irrigates the productive land of San Juan. Its hydroelectric dams in Sabaneta (Rio San Juan) and Sabana Yegua (damming the Rio Yaque del Sur), help to provide the country with clean energy. Region El Valle and ecotourism routes The Science and Art Foundation , has been proposing to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Tourism and the municipalities involved, to design an ecotourism route of which San Juan would be the departure and arrival point passing through El Cercado and Hondo Valle to reach the Savanette Commune, in Haiti. The return to San Juan would be through the city of Vallejuelo. This route, which would cover the major part of ecotourism attractions of the provinces Elías Piña and San Juan (including the National Park Sierra de Neyba) and Savanette Commune, would represent a good beginning for a multi destination ecotourism in the Dominican –Haitian border and throughout the island. In February 2011, the Committee Support of the Municipality of San Juan for the 15th fair held in Hondo Valle, Elías Piña Province, was created. It is led by its Honorable Mayor and composed by local authorities and community leaders. In this direction, this committee would be expanded and, along with the Science and Art Foundation, would bring to a successful conclusion an activity - that aims at continuing the efforts that have been made, in particular with the Ecotourism and Production Fair (in March 2003, in the municipality
of El Cercado-Province of San Juan- and in December of last year, 2011, in Hondo Valle – Province of Elías Piña), to place the Municipality of San Juan de la Maguana and the provinces of San Juan and Elías Piña in the ecotourism map of the Caribbean and the world.
This committee would also work to promote the implementation of the project of the ecotourism route “San Juan, El Cercado, Hondo Valle, Savanette, Vallejuelo, San Juan” which would take into account, in a second stage, the cities and villages of Comendador, El Llano, Bánica, Pedro Santana and Rio Limpio, territories and communities with countless ecotourism attractions and the National Park Nalga de Maco. This is the park where the river Artibonite is born. It is a heritage of the whole island, since most of the course of the river is in the sister Republic of Haiti. For example, the National Park Sierra of Neyba, covered by a cloud forest and rich biodiversity, for its beautiful mountain scenery, the green glowing dense vegetation, as well as its big amount of endemic species of birds, reptiles, plants and flowers, is an appropriate place to make, among other activities related to ecotourism, mountain hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and bird watching. These practices of ecotourism could be enriched by a dynamic agrotourism to be developed within the municipality of San Juan de la Maguana, which is rich in rice and beans fields, fruit trees and vegetables. This province produces a significant amount of agricultural goods that respond to the demand of food of the national tourism sector. In El Valle Region, between Juan Santiago and Hondo Valle, there are many caves, among which there is one that has been ranked as the largest in the Caribbean. Villages as Juan Santiago, Hondo Valle, El Llano, Banica and Rio Limpio (Elías Piña Province) and El Cercado, Vallejuelo, Sabaneta, Bohechio, Hato Nuevo and La Jagua (San Juan Province) are located between mountains, with a very unique landscape, rich vegetation and bird species, favorable to the practice of hiking, wildlife watching, and mountain biking. These mountain areas are producing excellent coffee, avocado, beans, corn and pigeon peas. Fruit trees in general are abundant especially citrus. From San Juan de la Maguana, it is possible to develop ecotourism routes towards the Pico Duarte, passing through the place where the main indigenous Taino settlement existed: Corral de los Indios, in the neighboring municipality of Juan de Herrera. Other routes may go to Bohechio municipality, with its beautiful landscapes and rich culture. The roads leading to the colorful villages of El Valle Region, particularly to its typical houses, are bordered with landscapes of great beauty. The gastronomy of the region is very particular to its ancestral traditions. It is important to stress that the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic has undertaken some works to define and implement the Tourism Plan of San Juan Province. Challenges of San Juan de la Maguana and El Valle Region The Municipality of San Juan de la Maguana is perhaps the municipality with largest economic expansion throughout the Southern Region of the Dominican Republic.
However, despite the efforts that have been made in recent years, the municipality has not yet been turned into an ecotourism-cultural city that could attract a large number of foreign and domestic visitors. The natural wealth that exists in the neighbouring municipalities of the two provinces, San Juan and Elías Piña, combined with the socio-economic and cultural development of San Juan de la Maguana could become an eco-tourism and cultural offer of surprising variety. It is true that many of the municipalities in the region don´t have sufficient sources of employment to hold its population in the region and to stop the wave of emigration. However if a good regional ecotourism plan is articulated, things would change very favorably for the population. Art, literature, handicrafts, agro-industry would flourish and the most appropriate forms of social organization to promote comprehensive development of the region. Forest resources, water and soil of El Valle Region are being badly affected by migratory agriculture and lack of knowledge of techniques for hillside agriculture. The probability of the loss of crops due to excess of water or drought is estimated in 70%.In many of its municipalities, agricultural goods are not processed because of the absence of local industry. Neyba National Park, despite the great biodiversity that it has and despite the efforts made in recent years by the Ministry of Environment, is still a victim of destruction of fauna and flora, and fires are frequent. We can say the same thing about the national parks of the San Juan Province. The agro-ecotourism, as a way to establish a link between the community production and the natural wealth and beauty of the Region El Valle, as a way to make visitors live with real producers of rural places (of tropical products unknown for many populations in the world) and as a way of mixing local traditions, religion and life in general with customs of other peoples, constitutes an option for the integral development of the municipalities of the provinces San Juan and Elías Piña. Together with the nearby cities and villages of Haiti it represents also a mechanism to build closer bonds of progress and brotherhood between two neighboring peoples: the Dominican and the Haitian. In this context the 16th Ecotourism and Production Fair is a tool to continue on the path of progress wished by the inhabitants of the Region El Valle and in particular by the Municipality of San Juan de la Maguana. Its motto: FOR AN ECOTOURISM AND CULTURAL MUNICIPALITY! -defined by the Support Committee of San Juan de la Maguana- involves the challenge that have undertaken the City Hall, the public and community organizations of that beautiful city, challenge that is also extended to other municipalities throughout the region. Ecotourism and Production Fairs: Objectives and Scope In order to contribute to overcome the obstacles that prevent the development of many localities, the Science and Art Foundation, created in 1989, has been organizing and celebrating national and binational ecotourism and production fairs, since year 1997. The Ecotourism and Production Fair is a mass activity, which during its preparation (of one year) and its realization (11 to 16 days) mobilizes communities around the development of the region. Fifteen fairs have been celebrated all throughout the country. The fair aims at promoting within the communities the idea that they can reach a certain level of
development with their own efforts and resources and also aims at disseminating the culture of wanting to know better your country, its regions and to discover their full potential for development. The fair presents ecotourism, practiced in different ways, alone or in combination with other economic activities, as an option for local development. In that direction, it also aims to spread the culture of using natural resources rationally, managing the territory and planning its own development. The Fair also educates communities within a region, of different regions, of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, on the need to associate themselves, to seek unity, to organize and coordinate their activities to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable development. The fair is simultaneously a school and an exercise of consultation and community organization. Ecotourism and Production Fair activities The Ecotourism and Production Fair includes four essential components: 1. - Exhibition of products, services, projects and activities in the booths or pavilions, as a specific form of displaying, selling and promoting domestic production. 2. - Scientific and cultural conferences and workshops. The lectures are delivered by intellectuals, professionals and persons related to conservation activities, production, management and organization, in the involved communities as well as nationally and internationally. 3. - Artistic and cultural presentations. The participating municipalities and provinces, the Ministry of Culture and private companies, select the best of their folklore groups and the national artistic cast to be presented during the nights at the fair. 4. - Sports and excursions. The fair becomes a space of sports exchanges between neighboring municipalities. The tours represent an element of education, as visitors get in contact with exceptional and very little visited places where nature shows all its biodiversity, its colorful and rich landscaping, and people show all their productive work, their creativity and hospitality. Text: Dr. Boin, Jacqueline, President of Science and Art Foundation and Dr. Serulle Ramia, JosĂŠ, President-foundator of Science and Art Foundation (Translate from Spanish to English: Tania EstĂŠvez)