Saturday, December 12, 2009

Havana in Copenhagen

According to news reports, Cuba will call “for the modification of the irrational patterns of production and consumption that has put the world on the brink of an environmental and economic catastrophe”. At least those are the words used by Orlando Rey, Director of the Environment Department at the island’s Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment.Havana in Copenhagen

Based on those reports, Cuba will bring the issue during the 15th UN Conference on Climate Change, which begins Monday in Copenhagen, the Danish capital. The member of the delegation to Copenhagen added that the “international public opinion demands more political will from those that are historically responsible for global warming”.

Right. Let’s jump over the point. What did Cuba do on its own to accomplish the Kyoto treaty and demand those amendments? What did the Cuban government achieve in Climate Warming Prevention Policies?

It is easy to point fingers to anyone else, but the story begins to be a bit intricate when it comes to its own premises. You don’t need to be and expert to know the high levels of contamination that our own capital city reach day after day. Just open your window and look at the chimneys stacks of the old thermal power plants of Tallapiedra in the Old Havana neighbourhood and the Antonio Maceo plant in Regla, across the Bay of Havana.

I just want to add one bit of information to open some eyes to those who are fast to credit too much to Cuba’s authorities. At the end of the 80s, Cuba replaced part of the vanished Soviet fuel imports with domestic crude containing roughly six percent sulfur. The fumes of those plants are covering premises inhabited by approximately 800 000 persons. What do you think now?

Well, let’s not look at the sky. What about our Bay of Havana?

I recalled an old Cuban news report talking about a project to clean the Bay of Havana. Where is that project? That bay is probably one of the most polluted marine environments in the world. To that bay, domestic garbage, sewage and industrial waste is disposed and nobody move a finger in Havana.

Cuba is fast to manage numbers and international reports from open societies and democratic countries, especially US, but the condition of Cuba’s environment and its effects on the society have been treated as state secrets. No newspapers, no public reports, and no public agendas detail what Cubans are facing.

It doesn’t cost too much to understand the scope of the problem when you walk through the city and see human disposal rolling over the streets, mountains of garbage overflowing its containers, or even take a minute and look at our Almendares River. That river runs through agricultural and industrial zones, military bases and densely populated areas, all of which dump untreated sewage into the stream. It runs through our capital city, Havana.

Now, the government of Cuba is heading to Copenhagen and probably would quote some old statement from US government, or more probably will accuse US with the embargo to blame about these topics. Meanwhile, we are going to hear along a defiant speech, populist by no means, about “the obligations agreed in Kyoto by the developed nations”.

The questions still is: Where are Cuba’s obligations not only with UN, but also and more important, with the people of Cuba?

Where is Cuba’s commitment to Kyoto?

What is the moral of a regime that ignores their people, their own public opinion and hide numbers and data about pollution?

You open your window, look from your balcony to an old American car running along the street, and the fumes from its exhaust pipe is slapping on your face as a testimony of what are the real words that Cuba’s authorities should have to say in Copenhagen, but they won’t.