Mountains of Garbage on Havana’s Beaches Every Day

By Daniel Benitez  (Cafe Fuerte)

Garbage left on the beach. Photo: Roberto Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Havana’s Playas del Este is the closest and most affordable sea destination for the Cuban capital’s over two million inhabitants, but they are being affected by the actions of those who leave huge amounts of garbage and waste on the sand every day.

According to the people responsible for cleaning Cuba’s northern coastal area, visitors who come here don’t have any trouble in leaving a reminder of their stay behind, cans and empty bottles, food scraps, containers and any items used.

The alarming revelations about Havana’s beaches now being converted in huge dumping grounds due to the indolence of beach-goers have recently appeared in an article by the newspaper Juventud Rebelde.

According to Eugenio Rodriguez, who has been on the clean-up crew in the area for fifteen years now, when he starts work at 6 AM, “it’s disgusting, especially in the areas where more Cubans go, because it’s always clean where foreign tourists crowd together. They are incapable of leaving garbage behind on the sand,” the newspaper says.

There are a total of about 30 people, split into two groups, who are responsible for keeping over 7 km of coast clean. Many of them agree on the fact that it is the Cubans who are less concerned about keeping their surroundings garbage free.

Sundays are the worst

It is estimated that up to half a million people come to visit these beaches on a given Sunday in June, July and August.

Surroundings plants also suffer. Every human stampede leaves trunks and branches pulled off the surrounding seagrape trees, which are used as protection against the sun in an area where there aren’t any beach umbrellas or other kinds of protection.

Carlos Rudy, the person in charge of the cleanup effort for the State company Arentur, recognized the fact that beach-goers use garbage bins as a support to improvise an awning and even as goalposts to play soccer.

The official also recognized the fact that the police are busy fighting other crimes while inspectors are supposedly meant to keep a look out to make sure the law is being followed, but they don’t pay attention to offenders either.

“In the ‘90s, there were inspectors to give out warnings and to fine people for throwing or leaving garbage behind on the sand and abusing property… It’s not like that anymore, but it needs to be,” claimed Rudy.

11 thoughts on “Mountains of Garbage on Havana’s Beaches Every Day

  • July 14, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Its not just Cuba. Many tropical places are experiencing environmental disasters from pollution.

    Have you seen Ghana lately?! Its turned into a HUGE DUMP of electronic garbage.
    OUR ELECTRONIC GARBAGE!! Its disgusting.

    Paradise will be lost to “the nothing” if we dont do something about it right now.

  • July 14, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I have been going to Cuba, to the east beaches for over 30 years. I am appalled by the garbage on the beaches and not to repeat what others have said, but there are no containers for people to put their garbage and if there are…they are overflowing. Sadly, it is not just the Cubans who leave their garbage, but tourists leave theirs too. I am shocked especially by Europeans whose countries are immaculate who leave the beach with all their garbage sitting by their beach cots for someone else to pick up. But the government should launch a huge educational programme to remind tourists that they need to be careful and to teach Cubans that, although they might just throw their garbage at the nearest street corner, they shouldn’t litter the beaches.

    One more thing. I stay in Guanabo, which on the side streets is a massive garbage dump. An hour further east, you can eat off the streets in Matanzas! Why does one community get it right and another not, all under the same government?

  • July 11, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Cuba was my first time out of America. I’m glad it was Cuba. I loved that country even before I went. As bad as some of the beaches were, the enter city of Havana was worse. I would have thought that they would hire more workers to keep the streets cleaner. I write novels and one if them takes place in Key West and Cuba.

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