Cuba's Environment Threatened as Embargo's End Looms

The New York Times had a piece recently on what the end of the United States' economic embargo against Cuba could mean for the Caribbean nation's impressive successes in environmental protection. In a report last year, the World Wildlife Fund said that Cuba's beaches, mangroves, reefs, seagrass beds and other habitats are most at risk by "the prospect of sudden and massive growth in mass tourism when the U.S. embargo lifts."

Cuba has done "what we should have done — identify your hot spots of biodiversity and set them aside," Oliver Houck, a professor of environmental law at Tulane University Law School, told the Times.
Cuba has the most biologically diverse populations of freshwater fish in the region. Its relatively large underwater coastal shelves are crucial for numerous marine species, including some whose larvae can be carried by currents into waters of the United States,

The story notes that what may prove to be decisive once the embargo is removed is Cuba's lacks of a grassroots environmental movement. In other words, so far, the country has few environmental groups or activists to stand up to what will likely be powerful interests in tourism development. ::Via The New York Times

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