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Kabir Vega Castellanos: I am a young person living in Alamar, my hobbies are technology and by maternal influence literature. I love animals sometimes even more than myself. I started in Havana Times because it is one of the few places where one can speak his mind. Although sometimes I'm naïve I believe that my opinion also has value.

The State Doesn’t Care about Nature

April 20, 2017 | Print Print |

Kabir Vega Castellanos

Trees cut down for no apparent reason in Central Park Havana.

HAVANA TIMES — It’s becoming a more and more frequent occurrence to find cut down trees everywhere in the city of Havana. Sometimes they don’t even have electricity cables above them, so I don’t understand why they have to be cut down.

I also don’t understand what the law is with regard to forestation in a tropical country where the summer sun is simply a torture.

A few days ago, I was shocked to see that they had cut down a ceiba tree in Central Park itself. I don’t know whether they are planning on setting up a WIFI hotspot there, but it continues to be a touristy area, and just a few meters away from the recently inaugurated Hotel Manzana. A more ecological solution could have been found.

In this same Central Park, which is always very busy with passers-by and where buses which only transport tourists park, I have seen tourists eating a sandwich and street dogs watching them with pleading eyes.

How would those who have an ounce of sensitivity in them feel?

If they also see chopped up chickens in plastic bags on any street corner, a headless pigeon or a ceiba still standing but surrounded by foul-smelling animal corpses?

The way horse cart drivers treat their horses is also shameful. They seem to take out all of their anger and frustration on the poor animal; I had the misfortune to bear witness to how one of them hit a poorly fed mare, just for his enjoyment.

Even though many tourists try to make their stay in our country the most pleasant they can, there are things which simply stand out to the naked eye.

Tree cut down in Alamar.

Others involve themselves to the point that the souvenir they take home from Cuba is a stray cat or dog, which they have decided to save from their misery. A gift which gets them tangled in long and expensive paperwork.

But is it fair, is it right, that a tourist, somebody who is foreign to our land, has to be the one who helps ease our problems here?

The organizations which have popped up spontaneously and fight to find a solution to the agonizing situation of animals in Cuba (at this point, without an Animal Protection Law, which would be just the beginning of having a civilized society) are kept running by foreign donations.

Before the Revolution triumphed, Jeannette Rayder, a US resident on the island, was the first person to declare herself against animal abuse, the first person to demand that laws be created so as to protect them.

Is it possible that such obvious problems, which not only affect the aesthetic of the city but the health and hygiene of its citizens, only matter to foreigners?

What role does the State have, which is the one who controls and manages all of our resources? To just be a predator? Of cut down trees, of stray animals who die of diseases, accidents or by the dog catcher? Does the Law only exist to encourage destruction?


What's your opinion?

  • Raphael Stephen-Pons

    Cuba is the only country to fit the WWF definition of sustainable development, and has made huge gains reforesting the jungles. A few trees in Havana shouldn’t matter too much but I can see where you r coming from

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      You Raphael Stephen-Pons quite simply don’t know what you are talking about. I know Cuba, my home is there, I have walked the National Parks – from Alexander Humboldt in the east to Guanahacabibes in the west – have you?
      In my home town a lovely avenue of pre-revolution trees has been slaughtered during the last two years by the municipality leaving the old folks who sit there with little shade and little privacy for the young courting couples.
      Cuba has hundreds of thousands of acres of good formerly productive agricultural land reverting to bush and rice paddies not being maintained. Agricultural production falls annually and sugar production is down to below 15% of the 1989 figure. Cuba now has to import over 80% of its food – and the frozen chicken in our local CIMEX store is a product of the US company TYSON!
      Pray inform us of exactly where Cuba has been “reforesting the jungles”?
      Before expressing your opinions about Cuba, do please get informed!

  • Brigitte Schlemmer

    This is a great article and I agree with you! AS a frequent visitor to Cuba I am often horrified at the treatment of animals in particular the poor horses. It is not my business to tell people how to behave but it hurts to see it. I have made gentle comments such as “how old is your horse? What is it’s name?” as I pet the poor beasts baking in the sun. I REFUSE to ride in any horse drawn carriage in Cuba or anywhere else unless it is a properly cared for animal in a natural setting – not on the city streets. In Cartagena the carriages are enjoyed by many tourists and I could see with my own eyes the care they were given with fresh water available and being allowed to stand in the shade. This is also a topic of much discussion in NYC because the people find it cruel and unnecessary when it is simply for the pleasure of a tourist. As for the street dogs, we have rescued many in our household. In Cuba I am the “crazy person” who takes all the mountains of leftover food from the table and sneak it to the dogs. One fancy hotel was none to pleased when a small pack of dogs was waiting for me each night. Then I wondered, “Is it wrong for me to do this? What happens when I leave? Will the doormen kick the poor skinny things?” Another problem that I see is amount of waste of food by these large tourist groups. I often ask “where will this food go? In the trash or will some person in the kitchen take what is untouched and eat it? Do they take it to their animals? In Vinales I am told they feed it to the pigs. Pork fed to pigs. Hmmm. Don’t get me started on the condition of the farm animals – the USA is by far the worst offender in my humble opinion. And don’t get me started on the water bottles and single-use plastic it make me CRAZY. I see people take a fresh chilled water bottle, take a few sips and then leave it on the table and get back on the Transtur bus and then take ANOTHER water bottle. ARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHH. KEEP WRITING THESE INFORMATIVE ARTICLES. Young people like you can start the dialogue and make the CHANGE!

    • Dan Makgow Smith

      Brigitte, are you from the U.S.?