Monday, December 28, 2009

Castro, Copenhagen and Big Brother

Sometimes, it is extraordinarily useful, in order to decipher the real essence of Cuba, to know how the national oracles, which in fact is only one, are banging over and over about one simple issue that already is vanishing in news media.Castro, Copenhagen and Big Brother

Like smoke signals floating over Havana to its allies throughout Latin America, Castro is boring again about COP15. I already add a little spice over that dish in an old post, but it is really important to establish here some honest principles and bring some actual facts to the table.

In the latest 80’s Cuba replaced its Soviet fuel oil with domestic crude containing 6% of sulphur. That crude is used in power plants and to run cement factories. Those are still running with the same crude, even when today Cuba receive crude oil from Venezuela, which Cuba sells in the international market.

In 1999 those industries used 2.2 million tons and cover with their fumes a population of 800 thousands. The two most important sources of sulphuric gases are: the old thermal power plants of Tallapiedra in Old Havana, the same receiving thousands of tourists every month, and the Antonio Maceo plant in Regla, across Havana’s Bay.

In both of these neighbourhoods, there is the highest level of environmental pollution, above 7.7 mg of sulphides per square decimetre per day. Concentrations above 4 mg could be found most of the municipalities surrounding those plants: Old Havana, Central Havana, Regla, 10 de Octubre and Cerro. 800 thousands of inhabitants, it is important to remember because the human factor is the key role here.

One important explanation to those who are not too familiar with sulphides: Sulphur oxides, residues of combustion produced mostly in power plants where sulphur-rich fuels are burned, create respiratory problems and cause acid rain. You could actually see it when you wake up early morning in any of those municipalities and open your window. It is not a fact registered in scientist documents, news reports or any philosophical speculation. Havana is living trapped in sulphur oxides.

Is it enough? I would like to add a few numbers more.

There are 430 million cubic meters of water contaminated with industrial and urban wastes and those are dumped into the sea annually. 2 270 million cubic meters find their way into the rivers. Could I remember you Almendares River? Just go and look at it. Or better, get the little boat traveling between Regla and Old Havana and stare to the sea surrounding you: it is virtually an oil container.

To your knowledge: Havana Bay is one of the most polluted marine environments of the world. The bay is the most important trade hub of the island as well as the preferred dumping site for its surroundings: domestic garbage, sewage, industrial waste and the refuse of the growing commercial ship traffic are
routinely disposed there.

For too many reasons, the media, the TV channels and journalists ignore our countryside. First, Havana is the main source of headline news in our country: the government is there, the western journalists are settled there, and it is easier to report an event in Havana than to run through Cuba and catch some little event far away. But, our pollution problems don’t stop in Havana.

The Pedro Soto Alba plant settle in the one of the East provinces of Cuba (formerly, Moa Bay) dumped more than 12,000 cubic meters of untreated liquid waste into the sea daily, containing 72 tons of aluminum, 48 tons of chromium, 15 tons of magnesium and 30 tons of sulphuric acid.

And this is to Castro: the treatment standards for wastewater in the US has a limit of concentration of chromium to a maximum of 0.32 milligrams per litre, 12 times less than the daily dumping into Moa Bay by only one of the three nickel plants operating in the area.

Did you get it?

Is this the guy who has any moral voice to speak out about any environmental issues?

There are more. The main source of water pollution lies in more than 300 industrial facilities and more than 4,000 service entities located around the bay. 53 industrial facilities are located in the immediate proximity of the bay, and another 84 industries produce waste discharged into it. The port activity itself is also one of the major sources of contamination. By estimates, the ships served in the port generate 150,000 tons of refuse per year. The Nico Lopez oil refinery spills their waste directly to the sea. There had been some tries to stop that huge problem with no success.

I think I had opened a bit any close eye to this area of Cuba that anybody in the world knows. Cubans stumble in daily basis with those facts and, surprisingly, they don’t even notice them. In the other hand, the newspapers, National TV and Castro itself ignore those facts to come the, to COP15, to create a show against the UN.

There is a phrase in Spanish that prays: don’t talk when your roof is made with glass.

Castro is making noise around and catching some headlines everywhere: what for? To spread a cloud over what it is going on within Cuba. The world champion for the 3rd world is an irreverent hypocrite whose finger and tongue are pointing out to somewhere else when its own people is piled up in waste, pollution and lies.

Like Big Brother’s rule and I am quoting:

“If all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future; who controls the present controls the past’. And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control’, they called it.”

A brilliant pupil of Big Brother: Castro.