Cuba and the Environment: We Are the Ones Who LoseJanuary 31, 2014 | Print |
Kabir Vega Castellanos
HAVANA TIMES — One of the things that worries me most about Cuba today is the damage being done to the environment.
When I take a stroll down Alamar, if I have to cut across a green area, I find it hard to choose a path: absolutely all of them are covered with garbage, and the abominable smell (of rotting food, dead animals and stagnant water) makes it difficult to breathe. Most of them are shortcuts, outside urban farms that are in pretty much the same condition.
I used to ask myself why there was so much garbage lying around everywhere.
I had my answer when I saw a woman throw away her garbage on the ground, a few steps away from the bin. Many had apparently had the same idea, for there was more garbage outside than inside the bin, which wasn’t even full.
At CDR meetings, people complain about those who throw out their garbage from the higher floors of buildings. I’ve seen bags full of garbage in the most incredible places, and I can’t help but ask myself why people don’t realize this is the place they live in – they’re not even sending their garbage off to a different planet (which would also be disastrous, of course).
In the city, I have also come across the smell of dead animals (religious sacrifices), rotting garbage or excrement. Some places constantly reek of urine.
Where is this neglect coming from? Many of the people who throw out greasy pizza wrappers or empty pop cans on the street are well-dressed and, in all likelihood, live in very clean homes. I also don’t understand why, in Cuba, garbage isn’t classified and separated as it is in the rest of the world.
The only time green areas are cleaned is during voluntary work sessions organized by the CDRs. People participate because they have to; most of them seem to be doing something but, ultimately, one doesn’t notice much improvement.
No matter how much fumigators torment people every day, not only has dengue not disappeared, now we have cholera and even malaria.
I once came to the conclusion that if the government announced it would apply steep fines on people who damaged the environment that people would start to be less careless, but, not long ago, they announced they would demolish annexes that had been illegally constructed around buildings, and people continue to build them. For some reason, they don’t take such threats seriously.
I believe that, if clean-up work that had nothing to do with politics were organized, that people would become more aware and begin to take more and more interest in caring for their environment. I don’t think it’s that hard to understand that we are the ones who stand to lose from our own behavior.