Reds Seeing Green
Even as tourism has begun to boom in Cuba, attention to environmental concerns is also increasing. In 1970, Cuban President Fidel Castro said, “Unless we conquer nature, nature will conquer us,” and for years he encouraged farming and manufacturing to expand with little regard to the environment. But now Cuba’s communist government is limiting some of the worst effects of private tourism enterprises in ecologically sensitive areas by studying the impacts of new hotels before approving them and requiring that they be set far back from beaches. The government is spending $15 million, plus an additional $4 million kicked in by the U.N. and others, to help promote growth and tourism while preserving ecosystems on an archipelago off Cuba’s northern coast, which borders the world’s second-longest coral reef. Enviros, however, are quick to criticize the project for taking short cuts and threatening species.