Last Train to Mombasa

Last Train to Mombasa

Last Train to Mombasa
nike outlet online store

eBook: China’s Congo Plan, now available

 

Buy Now on Amazon

What does China see in the world’s poorest nation? An opportunity for big business. Congo is known for poverty and conflict, but it is home to an enormous wealth of buried minerals such as copper, whose value is rising on the world market. Already, tens of thousands of Chinese men and women have left their families behind to live in Africa to dig and process ore.

Now, two Chinese state-owned companies are opening the biggest mine Congo has ever seen. In exchange, they’re spending billions of dollars to build new roads and modernize Congo’s infrastructure.

But will Chinese mines and roads help transform Congo in a way Western aid and business has not? Or will Chinese businessmen and Congolese officials get rich while the people continue to live in poverty?

In “China’s Congo Plan”, Jacob Kushner takes us street-side to a grand, Chinese-constructed boulevard in Congo’s capital Kinshasa, to a mountain range where Congolese men, women and children dig for minerals with picks and shovels, and to a factory where Chinese immigrants melt aqua-blue rocks into molten copper lava. Two years after China overtook the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner, Kushner brings us inside the world of China’s rise in the continent.

Kushner’s reporting was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and his research was advised by faculty at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. “China’s Congo Plan” was awarded the Grand Prize in the Atavist Digital Storymakers Award for Graduate Longform, sponsored by the Pearson Foundation.

The wages that Chale and her co-workers earn for sewing T-shirts and other clothing items are three times the minimum wage in the Dominican Republic.

A Thread of Hope

At a factory in the Dominican Republic, workers are sewing UW apparel, providing for their families, and spreading hope that the global textile industry can change.

During an age in which nearly all clothing sold in the United States is made in developing countries by workers who are paid just pennies an hour, Alta Gracia Apparel is not your typical textile factory: its employees earn three times the nation’s minimum wage of $150 per month. They get health insurance, a pension, vacation days, and maternity leave. They sit in ergonomic chairs and drink water that they themselves have quality-tested for pathogens.

It’s hard to fathom that a decade ago, many of these same people produced hats for a company that paid them just eighty-four cents an hour, forced them to work overtime without extra pay, and sometimes verbally and physically abused them.

See the full article and photos that were published in the Winter 2012 edition of On Wisconsin Magazine.

(more…)

A woman holds the gold she found this week. Image by Ben Depp. Haiti, 2012.

Haiti’s Gold Rush

Riches beckon from beneath Haiti’s hills, and mining companies are hoping to lock in huge tax breaks to get at them.

Deep in Haiti’s northern mountains, a half-dozen supervisors at a mining exploration site spent their days playing dominoes at a folding table next to a helicopter pad. For weeks they waited in La Miel, off a dirt road deep in the countryside, for Haiti’s government to give them the go-ahead to search for the gold they believe is buried in the hills around them.

Read the full story as it appeared at Guernica.
(more…)

PHOTO: Haitians face persecution across Dominican border

Merchants cross the Haitian-Dominican border in Jimaní (JACOB KUSHNER)

Haitians Face Persecution Across Dominican Border

When a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, in January 2010, the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, responded immediately by sending doctors, rescue teams, and over $34 million worth of emergency aid. Since then, the Dominican government has constructed a state-of-the-art university in northern Haiti and worked with Haiti’s new government to improve conditions across the border.

But neither the Dominican state nor the majority of its citizens have shown any such mercy to the estimated 500,000 to 1 million Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent living in their midst.

Access the article through NACLA subscription services

Read the accompanying sidebar story, Life in a Border Town Marred by Tension (no subscription necessary). (more…)

Dominican crackdown on Haitian migrants sows fear

By JACOB KUSHNER and DANICA COTO, Associated Press

JIMANI, Dominican Republic – The Dominican Republic has deported thousands of illegal immigrants in recent weeks, sowing fear among Haitians living in the country and prompting accusations its government is using a cholera outbreak as a pretext for a crackdown.

In the largest campaign in years to target Haitians living illegally in the Dominican Republic, soldiers and immigration agents have been setting up checkpoints and conducting neighborhood sweeps, detaining anyone without papers and booting them from the country.

Click HERE to read the full AP story as it appeared at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

(more…)