Cuba Thinking of Exporting Water to the Caribbean

Agua-del-grifo

In “What Water is Cuba Thinking of Exporting?,” Isabel Díaz Torres critiques Cuba’s decision to export bottled water to other countries in the Caribbean, even though the island’s National Environmental Strategy Report identifies “water shortage” as one of the island’s five main problems.

According to an article published in Havana Times, a new manufacturing plant with “cutting edge” Italian technology began production at the beginning of September. The trade name of the bottled water produced there is Sierra Canasta, a mountain range in Guantanamo, whose springs provide the company with the precious liquid. Sierra Canasta is to compete with the only domestic manufacturer Cuba had to date, Ciego Montero. [. . .] According to the news piece, the potential of this manufacturing plant, built with funds from the Cuban State and the Spanish International Cooperation for Development Agency, is far greater (over 400 thousand boxes a year), something which will make it possible for Cuba to “begin to gain a market among countries in the Caribbean basin.” Though the environmental report issued by the Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA) reports that the island “lacks an adequate monitoring system to assess the quality of its land and marine waters,” it seems that the dividends expected are far more persuasive. [. . .] Eastern Cuba’s Water Situation The report issued by CITMA alerts us to the fact that “the drought (…) and other phenomena caused by human intervention (…) are causing broad coastal areas and dry expanses of land around the country to experience significant processes of desertification, which tend to be more intense in Cuba’s eastern regions.”

Pomos-Ciego-Montero-y-Sierra-Canasta-Foto-Trabajadores

Towns in Cuba’s east such as Baguanos and Tacajo have been practically devoid of water for decades owing to the degradation or contamination of the water table. The town’s inhabitants have no access to any infrastructure that can supply them with water. “Repeated and destructive droughts, combined with high evaporation rates, lead to the exhaustion of soils and the reduction of underground water reserves,” the report states. One of the priorities of the Water Resources Institute for Cuba’s eastern region is supplying communities with water, sanitizing the environment and the restoring of the water distribution networks in areas most severely affected by drought, Rolando Calzada, director of this institute, announced during the recent International Hydraulic Engineering Congress. He also pointed out that another priority is to guarantee that areas being developed for tourism are supplied with the vital liquid. [. . .]

“In 2030, nearly half the global population will face a water crisis, the level of demand is expected to be 40 per cent higher than the available supply,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated some days ago in Budapest, during the opening of the Water Summit. Ignoring such warnings and turning a deaf ear on the UN leader’s call to “combat the unsustainable use of water,” the Cuban government plans on selling the scant reserves of the precious liquid available in Cuba’s eastern regions in hard currency and hopes to export it to other nations of the Caribbean.

Despite the fact that the bottled water business has begun to show signs of decline around the world, Cuba aspires to enter it precisely now, through an initiative that need not be approved by local authorities, as these decisions are made by the central government. On the other hand, the precarious situation of Cuba’s civic environmental organizations makes it impossible to exert any significant pressure on the company and the country’s leadership, a situation exacerbated by a maddening lack of any direct information about these issues.

For full article, see http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=99689

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