richard at getvegan.com
Tue May 20 11:10:17 MDT 2003
Wild Cuba: The Caribbean's unlikely nature preserve
20 May 2003
Tiny frogs. Vast swamps. Pristine rivers. Whether by design or default,
Cuba boasts the Caribbean's best-kept wild lands, writes Eugene Linden
in the May issue of Smithsonian magazine.
The percentage of safeguarded land in Cuba is among the highest of any
nation, and it has the largest tracts of untouched rain forest,
unspoiled reefs, and intact wetlands in the Caribbean, Linden writes.
This "biological superpower," as one scientist calls it, is home to 354
species, 21 of them unique to the island. They include the solenodon, a
chubby insectivore that looks rather like a giant shrew, and the bee
hummingbird, the world's smallest bird, weighing less than a penny.
As wildlife and habitat disappear from the region, Linden found that
Cuba's importance as an ecological bastion has been rising steadily.
Condos and hotels carpet large parts of the Caribbean. Population
pressures and poverty have turned much of Haiti into a denuded
moonscape that bleeds topsoil into the ocean every rainy season.
Cuba's environment, too, has in the past suffered the ill effects of
unchecked logging, the conversion of lowlands into sugarcane fields,
urban overdevelopment, and pollution in Havana Bay. Still, with its
anachronistic rural life and largely healthy ecosystems, the island is
a sort of ecological Brigadoon, offering a vision of the Caribbean of
long ago, Linden says.
Whether Cuba can continue to remain a holdout is a question. Some of
the nation's health can be chalked up to planning by Fidel Castro's
regime, to be sure; but Cuba also is an elysian vision by default.
Roads are unlittered partially because there's nothing to litter.
During the Soviet era, Cuban industry and agriculture proved highly
polluting, but now many factories and fields are idle. Population
pressure is not a problem; thousands risk their lives each year to flee.
A recent analysis by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street
Journal ranked Cuba as the world's second most repressive economy,
behind only North Korea. But unlike North Korea, Linden says, Cuba may
be on the verge of change.
Commerce abhors a vacuum, and it appears that this beguiling island
cannot indefinitely resist the pressures of development, which will
only increase if — or when — Cuba resumes trade with the United States,
As Cuba hovers on the brink of political and economical transition, it
struggles to balance preservation and progress.
PhD Education (in progress), UCLA
Ecopedagogy chair, UCLA Paulo Freire Institute
Vegan Blog: The (Eco) Logical Weblog at:
"Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan!" ™
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Size: 3191 bytes
Desc: not available
More information about the Marxism