'Save Cockpit Country' petition gets strong support

September 26, 2017
The forests of the Cockpit Country in Jamaica's interior are a world-famous karst (limestone) habitat, home to many plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.
Maria Gullotta, executive director of Stand Up Jamaica.
Sophia Frazer-Binns,

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has pledged to respond to the 'Save Cockpit Country' petition within 30 days, as the initiative surpassed the 15,000 signatures needed for a review before the September 30 deadline.

With four days left until the petition closes, 18,616 signatures have already been garnered. So far, it is the only petition to have reached the target set out by the OPM, with 'Call the Country to a One-Day Fasting and Prayer' being the only other active petition to reach more than 1,000 signatures. That petition has already received 2,003 signatures.

According to the 'Save Cockpit Country' petition, the area "is under immediate threat from bauxite mining, which would remove forest cover, block and pollute waterways, displace residents, threaten agricultural livelihoods, compromise air quality and threaten the health and well-being of thousands of Jamaican citizens."

The coordinator of Stand Up Jamaica, Maria Carla Gullotta, attributed the petition passing the goal to strong coordination and mobilisation of several persons.

"People have been mobilised a lot. I think on WhatsApp, I received messages from over 50 persons, who told me to sign the petition," she told THE STAR.

As part of the drive to achieve the goal, she said that she not only signed the petition but constantly sent it to her workers.

In addition, she argues that the media's coverage of the petition has helped to make persons aware of its existence.




She believes that if mining is allowed to take place in the Cockpit Country, it will not only lead to increased environmental problems but also health problems, such as in cases of cancer.

"If we are not careful, the damage is right around the corner. It is a beautiful untouched place and there are communities that will be affected," Gullotta said.

She wants to hear the OPM commit to defending the area that should be preserved for the cultural heritage, as it is where the Moore Town maroons are based.

Meanwhile, spokesperson on Land and the Environment, Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns, has called for the speedy resolution to the boundaries of the Cockpit Country.

In a press release, Frazer-Binns noted that there is absolutely no reason for mining to take place in the Cockpit Country as studies conducted showed that the country has approximately 50 years of bauxite to be mined in other areas if mining continues at the present rate. Therefore, she said there is no basis for a licence to be issued for the mining of bauxite within the precincts or the inner boundaries of the Cockpit Country.

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