May 21, 1999
By Reinaldo Cosano Alén
HAVANA - Veteran contractors dedicated to foreign tourism construction projects, mainly what is built today in Cuba, insist that the best sand in the country is that extracted from the Arimao River in the province of Cienfuegos.
The physical property of the sand is evidenced by the construction works finished or underway in the capital, which receives 140,000 cubic yards a year, as well as the facilities at Cayo Largo del Sur, where a regular train line has been established to guarantee delivery.
As well, other shipments of the sand will go to the Caiman Islands, along with crushed rock and half a million bricks, added to the 120,000 shipped earlier which, it is said, had a magnificent reception. Part of our best sand and the best clay in the form of bricks plus good stone is going to the Caiman Islands. Left in their place is money and lifeless sterile holes in the geography.
The main worry of René Guerra, the director of Building Material Company 10 in Cienfuegos, seems to be efficient labor and technological improvement so that Cuba can be more competitive in foreign markets and generate more income. There is total silence on the ecological impact of the bleeding of these irreplaceable and limited natural gifts, as well as the irreparable ecological damage this activity brings.
But worse is the following statement by Guerra: "The potential is greater than what we have achieved so far, so progress is yet to come."
The millions of cubic yards of this magnificent sand that Arimao was able to accumulate through millenniums of natural geographic movements are now slipping away to far-off places. Will Arimao be the same river when it loses all its sand?
We presume it will not be the same. We believe that the sand must have acted like a kind of natural ecological filter to help maintain a stable temperature. But, above all, what is demonstrated is a law of nature: wherever the natural balance is broken or altered, there are always some lamentable consequences for the quality of life on the planet. Only a pious and attentive sense of hearing would be able to catch the lament of the nymphs of Arimao who, from the sandy bed of the river where they live, cry out: "Arimao must be saved! And soon."
I ask: who will save it?
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