Eco Cuba Network

Eco Cuba Network, a 20 year old collaboration between US and Cuban environmentalists, promotes environmental interchange with Cuba, and works within both countries to implement the ideas generated by the Network.

Our goals are two-fold:

  • to create a program of mutual benefit for both our people, as we work together to avert economic catastrophe and environmental collapse and to create a more ecological and sustainable hemisphere
  • to motivate the large, influential and growing sector of environmentally-conscious US citizens to educate Congress and the Obama Administration on the need to end the US embargo of Cuba, especially the restrictions on travel and communication.

The people of Cuba and of the US share an ecosystem through our common embrace of the Gulf of Mexico. We share a hemisphere and a common world. We share as well,with all humans, a common dream of living peacefully and sustainably with each other on this beautiful planet, which is, ultimately, our only home.

US delegation to the International Permaculture Convergence, Los Cocos, Cuba, November-December 2014

Eco Cuba Network organizes delegations to Cuba of environmentalists in every field:

  • sustainable agriculture
  • renewable energy
  • natural health care
  • biodiversity/ecosystem protection
  • environmental education
  • grassroots environmental activism
  • interdisciplinary fields of social welfare, urban development
  • professionals working to bring sustainability and environmental integrity to their places of business

We encourage:

  • In depth study of Cuba’s environmental policies and practices
  • Ongoing exchange between Cubans and US participants on our delegations
  • Production of video, print and internet materials on Cuba’s projects in sustainable development and environmental protection
  • US attendance at environmental conferences in Cuba
  • Invitation of Cuban environmentalists to attend conferences in the US
  • Ever widening professional and grassroots participation in ongoing efforts to end the US embargo of Cuba

In its 2006 Sustainability Index Report, the World Wildlife Fund, utilizing a combination of the United Nations Human Development Index (a measure of how well a nation is meeting its nutrition, water, health care, and education needs, etc.) and the Ecological Footprint (natural resource use per capita), determined that there is only one nation in the world that is currently living sustainably — and that nation is Cuba. The Report states, “No [other] region, nor the world as a whole, met both criteria for sustainable development.”

  • How did Cuba, a small island nation of 11 million people, struggling with issues of poverty, devastating annual hurricanes, and the US embargo, achieve this extraordinary distinction?
  • What can environmentalists in the US learn from Cuba’s struggles and successes?
  • Can Cuba benefit from the intellectual and material environmental resources available from the environmental community in the US?
Eco Cuban Network seeks to answer these questions in the interest of environmental protection and sustainable human development.

Recent Posts

Remarks of Tom Miller at the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Center for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (the “Barsky Center”)

In the mid-nineteen sixties, as the American War in Vietnam ground on in all its ugliness, a war correspondent named Martha Gellhorn came to Vietnam. She had been married to famous American author Ernest Hemmingway, and had accompanied him to Spain where they reported on the Spanish Civil War as witnesses to the tragedy of Spain’s democratic government being overcome by a fascist dictator who would rule Spain for many years: Francisco Franco. Franco was aided by Hitler and Mussolini who used Spain as a testing ground for the war machines they would use in World War II.

In Vietnam Gellhorn destained the comfort of U.S. military briefings and wrote about the real war, and in particular the suffering of civilian children. For telling the truth about the war she was kicked out of what the Americans considered South Vietnam – but not before her writings were spread around the world by the Manchester Guardian.

In 1966 a young attorney in New York City working high above the skating rink in Rockefeller Plaza read what Gellhorn had written and was horrified by her vivid description of the real impact of the war. Gellhorn’s images were burned into his mind, and talking about it with another attorney in the firm he learned of a renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon named Arthur Barsky.

Arthur and his brother Edward, were also veterans of the Spanish Civil War. Concerned about the defeat of democracy by fascist forces, they joined what was called the American Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Arthur and Edward set up a medical unit in the midst of the fighting and bravely served as volunteers treating thousands of soldiers who were wounded fighting a losing battle for democracy. Then, after World War II, Dr. Barsky was the chief surgeon of the Hiroshima Maidens Project, led by American Quakers and an American named Norman Cousins. Barsky operated on young Japanese women who had been horribly disfigured by the atomic bomb.

It happened that Dr. Barsky, now in his 70’s, lived a short distance from where the young lawyer, still in his ’20’s, worked and it was not long before the lawyer went to Dr. Barsky and showed him what Martha Gellhorn wrote. The two of them went to Vietnam where they witnessed the destruction, and were particularly moved by the war’s horrific effect on children. They founded Children’s Medical Relief International and together raised funds to finance and build a hospital whose mission was to bring highly qualified doctors and medical personnel from around the world to teach and treat war-injured children. This included horribly disfigured infants who had been born in areas which mothers said had been “sprayed with the mist” from American airplanes – Agent Orange. Many hundreds of children were treated before the war came to an end.

That the hospital continues today is testimony not to its founders, but to the many people who have worked so hard to save the hospital at the end of the war and continue its high standards turning it into the modern world-class institution it is today. In particular, thanks is owed to chief nurse, Lien Huong, who spent her entire professional career at the hospital, and, for his work as a social worker during the war, Le Nuoi, who rescued injured children and brought them to the hospital. Also, one should not fail to mention Rowen Story, who, because of his interest in the history of the hospital is the reason we are all here today. But a final thanks goes to Martha Gellhorn, the brave reporter who revealed to the world the children’s suffering as a result of an evil and unnecessary war.

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