Monday, February 19, 2018

The lost lagoon of Sosua: El Canal

When I was preparing the article about the history of Sosua I reviewed several old maps of Hispaniola: according to some of these old maps there used to be a lagoon in Sosua, a lagoon in Cabarete and a larger one east of Sabaneta de Yasica.
The map where these lakes are more evident is a 1905 map by Casimiro de Moya (a Dominican historian, writer and politician 1849-1915):

old sosua map

In this map there are three lagoons:
1-Lagoon  of Orì east of Sabaneta de Yasica
2-Lagoon of Cabarete 
3-Lagoon El Canal east of Sosua between Sosua and Cabarete

While seasonal remains of a lagoon can still be seen just west of Cabarete what happen to the lagoon "El Canal" just outside of Sosua? The toponym "El Canal" is still there even on recent maps such the Bing Map below, however the lagoon is no longer there:

sosua map

El Canal is how a  distric of Sosua is marked on the map: it's the district os some well known  residencial communities such as Perla Marina, Sea Horse Ranch and those near Laguna beach (Playa Laguna).  The toponym "playa Laguna" may well be another clue that there once stood a lagoon.
As incredible as it may sound, in an area of Sosua where we are now used to see condos, villas and hotels, just 120  years ago there was a long and narrow lagoon called "Laguna El Canal".

To test this hypotesis I used digital elevation data from the Shuttle Radar Topography mission to obtain a 3D digital elevation model of the flatlands between Sosua and Cabarete: these data support the idea that the lost lagoon was indeed between Laguna beach and Perla Marina as that position is consistent with the presence of a small hydrographic basin ending in a flat and low area where a lagoon may have formed between the coast and the higher hills behind :

sosua 3d digital elevation model
3d Digital Elevation Model SOSUA

sosua 3d digital elevation model
3d Digital Elevation Model: tentative position of El Canal lagoon Sosua

sosua cabarete 3d digital elevation model
3d Digital Elevation Model:Sosua-Cabarete region

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sosua yesterday and today

In the historical time laps sequencebelow: the pier of Sosua as it appeared in different moments of Sosua history:
1910 - the pier of Sosua used to load bananas
1960 - remains of the pier of Sosua, a small rural town
2018-remains of the pier of Sosua and in the background the hotels of today's Sosua, an international tourist destination

Sosua pier

Friday, February 9, 2018

The history of Sosua

We have prepared an article dedicated to the history of Sosua, it can be found in our Sosua Information section linked as Sosua history with historical information about the formation of the small village of Sosua around the Boston Fruit company (later United Fruit) banana's plantation.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

When the marines landed in Sosua 1904

Very little is known about the early days of Sosua when a small village grew around the United Fruit Compaany bananas plantation. Searching historical records and libraries I found a forgotten story about Sosua which I think it is worth to be told.
On November 24, 1903 the governor of Puerto Plata Carlos Felipe Morales Languasco became the 30th president of the Dominican Republic after the so call "Unionists' Revolution" managed to overthrow Alejandro Woss y Gil

Carlos Felipe Morales Languasco

Shortly after the election a group of the Jimenistas (followers of Juan Isidro Jimenez) rose against the new president  and a new armed uprising started. President Morales was supported by the United States. The United States had significant interests and fixed investments in the Dominican Republic and owned  a significant portion of the defaulted Dominican foreign debt. A US company, the famous United Fruit Company owned a huge amount of land and a bananas plantation in Sosua. According to the company official records United Fruits in 1904 owned 18,203 acres of land in Sosua (the bananas plantation was as large as 3,480 acres), the total book value of such United Fruit co. investments in Sosua (land, houses, buildings, machinery,railways)  was 523,480 USD in 1904 (I would say something equivalent, more or less, to today's 500 millions USD).

With such an important investment to protect in Sosua in December 1903 United Fruit Company was very worried about the uprising against the US friendly president Morales, therefore it started to actively lobby in Washington to do something about it: after all United Fruit Company was the first multinational company with so much power to be able to influence the policies of a government.

On December 26 1903 fightings between troops of Morales and followers of Jimenez started in Sosua on United Fruit's property....from the New York Times "...without notice houses were looted, lives of United States citizens absolutely disregarded, women and children had to flee for safety: property destroyed..."

NYT marines sosua 1904
NYT first page of January 7, 1904 describing the marines' landing in Sosua

In the first days of January 1904 the US administartion dispatched a Navy steam ship to the North Coast of the Dominican Republic: in the morning of January 3, 1904 the USS Detroit commanded by Commander Dillingham went to Sosua, a marine detachment led by Ensign C.H. Fischer was landed from the USS Detroit to protect the American interests. One officer, sixteen marines, a Colt automatic gun and steam launch remained in Sosua to prevent further fighting till January 15th 1904.

uss detroit marines sosua
The USS Detroit , steam vessel 1904

old sosua
Old Bay of Sosua were the manìrines landing took place

 Albert Caldwell Dillingham (1848-1925) commander of the USS Detroit in 1904 when the marines landed in Sosua

The colt machine gun which was used in Sosua by the marines was of the type known as "potato digger", it was the first machine gun adopted  by the US military

Preliminary data for the Dominican Republic economy for 2017

The central bank of the Dominican Republic BCRD has just released the preliminary yearly figures for the Dominican Economy in 2017: the Dominican GDP growth was 4.6% with the strongest sectors being financial services and  hotels, bars and restaurants:

While growth figures were good but not as good as in 2016 it must be noted that during 2017 the external sector improved significantly with a much lower current account deficit and and improving balance of payments thanks to strong dollars inflows:

The strong inflows of hard currency from tourism, remittances, and direct inversions have been a key factor in the improvment of the Dominican Balance of Payment which resulted in an increase of the central bank reserves. The higher the level of the central bank reserves from 6.047 billion USD to 6.78 billions USD:  the higher the ability of the central bank to contain potential external shoks.