Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Dec. 20, 1999

CUBAN RESORTS THREATEN ECOLOGY. By Luis Ramón Hernández, Cuba Free Press.

Cayo Las Brujas, Caibarién.- The Cuban government continues its efforts to develop facilities for the tourism industry along the cays off the north coast of central Cuba in spite of environmentalists' warnings about the possible damage to the fragile ecosystem of the archipelago.

Most recently the tourism authorities in partnership with foreign capital have inaugurated a 5,900-foot (1,800 meters) paved runway capable of accommodating small to medium aircraft as well as 24 resort cabanas at Punta Periquillo. By next October, they are scheduled to open a 300-room hotel in Cayo Santa María and there are others in various stages of construction.

Cuban environmentalists, who are considered dissidents by the government, have repeatedly warned that the fragile ecosystem along the fringe of cays off the northern coast of the island cannot withstand the onslaught of tourists planned for the area. The government, however, pressured by the Cuban economy's desperate need for foreign exchange is proceeding with a wide-ranging plan to develop tourism facilities -including the runway just opened and an international airport in Cayo Coco - among the pristine cays and beaches.

Cuba's budding environmental movement argues that, ironically, the natural beauties that are a tourist draw in the first place will not survive massive tourism long enough to pay back the investment on the hotels and infrastructure.

Luis Ramón Hernández, Cuba Free Press.

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