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News > Latin America

Guantanamo Base Destroys Ecosystem, Impedes Scientific Research

  • Mangroves dot Guantanamo Bay with the US naval base airstrip seen in the distance.

    Mangroves dot Guantanamo Bay with the US naval base airstrip seen in the distance. | Photo: AFP

Published 27 October 2016

Scientist Mario Montero Campello said that the rich ecosystem could have brought valuable research and revenue to the impoverished bay.

The U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay is destroying the local ecosystem and cutting off locals of profit from their biologically rich resources, according to scientists.

Instead of Closing Guantanamo, the US Invests in Expansion

Infrastructure from the base, since its construction in 1903, allows only one-fifth of the aquifer to be exposed, preventing drainage from the Guantanamo basin. The effect is increasing salinity, which threatens the fragile ecosystem, scientist Mario Montero Campello told Cuba Debate.

The area is of special interest to biologists because of its unique transition between land and marine life. Continued expansion of the base, which has cleared out local vegetation, is also preventing locals from enjoying the economic benefits of its rich flora and fauna, underdeveloping the region.

Montero Campello speaks out against the blockade and the presence of the base, which was sharply criticized by UNASUR Thursday.

U.S. conservationist Joe Roman made a case for returning the land to Cuba and creating a "research diplomacy" center studying the local ecosystem, published in Science magazine in March.

His dream, as he wrote in the paper: "research and educational facilities dedicated to addressing climate change, ocean conservation, and biodiversity loss. With genetics laboratories, geographic information systems laboratories, videoconference rooms — even art, music, and design studios — scientists, scholars, and artists from Cuba, the United States, and around the world could gather and study."

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