Five gargantuan modern irrigation machines water the state farm of La Yuraguana covering 138 hectares in the northeastern province of Holguín, the third largest province in Cuba. However, “sometimes they cannot even be switched on, due to the low water level,” said farm manager Edilberto Pupo.
In the past, all rural homes in Cuba had gardens for putting fresh vegetables on the dinner table. The local term for these gardens is “conuco”, a word with indigenous roots that is still used in several Caribbean nations.
The United States has indicated a clear interest in buying organic produce from Cuba as soon as that is made possible by the ongoing normalisation of ties between the two countries. But farmers and others involved in the agroecological sector warn that when the day arrives, they might not be ready.
A middle-aged woman arranges bouquets of yellow roses in a street market in Little Haiti, a slum neighbourhood in the capital of the Dominican Republic. “I don’t want to talk, don’t take photos,” she tells IPS, standing next to a little girl who appears to be her daughter.
The nearly 7,000 islands and the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea are home to thousands of endemic species and are on the migration route of many kinds of birds. Preserving this abundant fauna requires multilateral actions in today’s era of global warming.
The recent lengthy drought in the Dominican Republic, which began to ease in late 2015, caused serious losses in agriculture and prompted national water rationing measures and educational campaigns.
Environmentally committed journalists in the Caribbean point to a major challenge for media workers: communicating and raising awareness about the crucial climate change agreement that emerged from the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris.
“Sometimes we have too much water, which washes everything away,” Cecilia Joseph, originally from Haiti, said in heavily accented Spanish while pulling up a ñame root (a kind of yam) on her farm in the municipality of Santo Domingo Norte in the Dominican Republic.
Rubbish covers the beaches and clutters the rivers, the garbage dump is not properly managed, and more than 100 factories spew toxic fumes into the air in the city of Bajos de Haina, a major industrial hub and port city in the Dominican Republic.
When night falls, young men can be seen sitting on a dismantled bus stop on a remote hill far from the centre of the Cuban capital. Later they climb uphill to have sex with other men in the thick forest.
Cuba's oil industry only exploits five percent of the petroleum found in onshore and offshore deposits due to a lack of foreign capital and technology to develop oilfields like Varadero 1000, the country's biggest oil operation until now.
Armando Marcelino Pi divides his day between the university, where he teaches philosophy, work on his family farm, and coordinating a group of 33 agroecological farmers, in this mountainous rural municipality in western Cuba.
Young people in Cuba are anxiously awaiting an acceleration of the informatisation of society, which is apparently moving ahead at the same pace as the current reform process, “without haste, but without pause,” according to the authorities.
Along the road to the Viñales valley, travelled by thousands of tourists to Cuba, lies the home of self-taught artist Miguel Antonio Remedios, which he has turned into a sort of museum to show visitors a wooden home typical of this mountainous area in the west of the country.
During the events surrounding the eighth annual celebration of the Day Against Homophobia in Cuba, it emerged that a young transsexual had recently been killed in the city of Pinar del Río near the western tip of this Caribbean island nation.