The unauthorized opening of an almost five-kilometer-long ditch on the coastal strip of the Ancón peninsula has caused significant environmental damage to one of the most important ecosystems in the central Cuban province of Sancti Spíritus, according to official media.
According to a feature article in the local newspaper Escambray, the aforementioned ecosystem, which functions as a protective shield against erosion and salinization, is home to a large number of species and stands out for its natural beauty, for which it constitutes a “strategic resource” for the area and its tourist development.
In this regard, Dalgis Dueña Boggiano, representative of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA) in the Sancti Spíritus municipality of Trinidad, told the media outlet that the illegally opened ditch “is located on the coastal strip, so it does cause environmental damage and even harms the views of that beach area frequented by national and foreign vacationers.
The Escambray publication specifies that the open furrow extends from the well-known Curva de Alfredo to the entrance of María Aguilar Beach, and that several days and mechanized equipment were used for its execution.
La agresión al frágil ecosistema costero evidencia la falta de sensibilidad de algunos funcionarios en cuanto a la protección del medio ambiente y el cumplimiento de la #TareaVida #SanctiSpíritus #Trinidad #Cuba @citmacuba @CitmaSancti @DeivyPrezMartn1 https://t.co/ShLKiCnmnb pic.twitter.com/a5QllRzYYy
— Escambray (@escambraycu) April 25, 2022
Jorge Jesús Chaviano, a representative of the Office of Environmental Regulation and Safety (ORSA) in that locality, explained that the event’s “objective was to discover an old water conductor to extract the steel structure (wire rod) used in the construction” and that once discovered, the authorities of the territory and the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) were informed.
The feature article says that at the time of its publication the authors of the damage were already known as well as the origin of the equipment used, which is part of the crew and equipment participating in the construction of the Melía Península Hotel, in one of the plots of that ecosystem.
In statements to Escambray, David Calzada Jiménez, head of the Office of Environmental Regulation and Safety in the province of Sancti Spíritus, assured that those responsible will have to “immediately restore” the damage caused to the section of the coastal strip in a term of no less than 72 hours and the payment of a fine, based on what is established in Decree-Law No. 200 on Environmental Contraventions.
As for the amount of this fine, according to what was investigated by the media, the amount could vary from 400 CUP in the event that those responsible are natural persons, to 10,000 CUP if the participation of a legal entity is demonstrated. But, beyond these possible measures, the feature article questions the fact itself and the “permissive attitudes” that made it possible.
“How was it possible to mobilize equipment, open the ditch and deactivate the steel structure without calling attention to it in a timely manner?” asks the journalistic work, which points out that the attack on the fragile coastal ecosystem shows the lack of sensitivity of some officials regarding the protection of the environment and compliance with what is established for its safeguard.
Escambray recalls that the Ancón peninsula is one of the areas protected in Sancti Spíritus by the Tarea Vida — the Cuban state plan to face climate change — and that the area welcomes Cuban and international beachgoers, even outside the summer season.
Faced with this reality, it stresses that the act “should not go unpunished” and that beyond the inability to avoid it, the identification of those responsible “becomes an act of justice to heal this kind of terrible blow to nature, but also to question such practices,” which it considers incompatible with government strategies’ postulates and human sensibility.