The Ecological Cuba of Europeans
September 22, 2012
European Environmentalism and Third World Precariousness
HAVANA TIMES — Many European environmentalists come to in Cuba with the
hope of finding a lifestyle representing an alternative to the chronic
consumerism that has marred the natural environment in their countries.
Their search is so desperate that they begin by ignoring the specifics
of environmental damage generated by the Cuban public. They confuse our
limited consumption with the environmental awareness they profess.
The illusory similarity that's produced between such limited consumption
and the alternatives of consumer regulation that they advocate, end up a
playing a trick on them.
An example is the way of packaging everything using highly polluting
I remember an Italian social scientist who marveled at bulk sales at
Cuban agricultural markets. She thought he had discovered a natural
environmental consciousness among those vendors here.
She always received warnings from Cubans researchers about the
difference in context and the particularities of consumerism in our
country, but she was never convinced. She believed in some supposed
mystical sensitivity of the Third World towards nature.
I never found out the conclusions of her research, though I expect she
reaffirmed her initial thesis, despite the warnings she received.
Some time ago, Cuban agricultural markets started adopting First World
approaches to packaging everything: beans, fresh spices, fruits, meats
and so on.
The generalization of this was due to the increased availability of
plastic packaging wrap in the domestic market, not to any deterioration
of our Third World ecological consciousness.
This demonstrates the fierce struggle waged by our domestic market to
incorporate the logic of the international market, seeking to captivate
the Cuban consumer demand with desires for First World consumption.
Another issue ignored by European ecologists is that "sophisticated"
consumption in Cuba acquires the additional attraction of functioning
like a ground wire that relaxes the high degree of state
authoritarianism that prevails.
As this happens, First World humanists continue clinging to the desire
to build their ecological and social utopias in the exotic landscapes of
the Third World.