Over a decade ago river restoration experts from the University of California at Berkeley began developing a clean water plan with the Palma Soriano community. Located near Santiago de Cuba in Eastern Cuba, it is a community of 80,000 rich in Haitian-Cuban tradition including descendants of slaves brought from Haiti over 200 years ago when the world’s first successful slave rebellion forced their French masters to flee. It is located at the juncture of the two main tributaries of the Cauto, Cubas longest river, which descend from the Sierra Maestre mountains. In 1982 Palma Soriano became Berkeley’s “Sister City” in Cuba, and in December of 2012 the Mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, and State Senator Loni Hancock visited Palma Soriano on a Green Cities Fund sponsored trip. Working together with Cuba’s foremost environmental NGO, the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation and Grupo Ennegro, Palma’s independent cultural organization, Green Cities Fund, Berkeley’s “Sister City” organization and University of California clean water experts are implementing a low tech, low cost and locally built clean water program where raw sewage which is now emptied into the Cauto, is instead directed to ponds filled with plant and animal life that will remove the toxins and sediment, leaving clean water which will be utilized in reforestation and community vegetable gardens. The project will, hopefully, be duplicated by community groups throughout Cuba and Third World countries. Talented Cuban documentary filmmaker Carlos Betancourt’s “Palma Soriano: The Story of a People” tells this story (see below).
Watch the trailer: