The Castro dictatorship is convinced that golf represents a hook to attract foreign investors. Despite the fact that he christened it the “bourgeois sport” six decades ago to repress its practice on the island, now it positions him with a dozen projects in his portfolio of infrastructure plans, without having the resources to maintain them and in the midst of the crisis of the electrical system that plunges the country into constant blackouts, accompanied by the misery that overwhelms eight out of ten Cubans.
Zero Point, the area known as “the bunker” of the late dictator Fidel Castro, which covers 15 square kilometers of the Playa Cuadros municipality, is among the places where a golf course will be built along with an 80-room hotel and a residential area commercial.
The plan is to generate annual revenues of between four and five million dollars, with an estimated payback of nine years. A Cubanet report reveals that several companies are interested in participating in the project that will boost the declining tourism in Cuba. Among them are the Canadian Golf Design Services LTD, Esencia Hotels and Resorts, from the United Kingdom; Caribbean Resorts and Golf, associated with Urbas Grupo Financiero, of Spain; in conjunction with real estate entities from the Balearic Islands linked to the Cristoforetti family, closely related to the businesses of Tony Castro —Fidel’s favorite grandson—, both in Cuba and in Europe and Panama
Plans with ambitions
The construction of the 12 golf courses are part of six current projects, according to a Connectas investigation, which will be added to the two existing ones, the Varadero Golf Club, operated by the extra-hotel company Palmares, with 24 years of operations and 18 holes and Habana Golf Club, located at Carretera de Vento, No 8, Capdevilla between the city center and the nine-hole José Mart International Airport.
Both clubs have 89 hectares, but with Castroism’s projects they would rise to 3,345 hectares. Among the projects, Rancho La Luna stands out, sponsored by the Urbas Financial Group of Spanish origin, in the municipality of Cienfuegos, one of the towns most affected by the drought in Cuba. According to data from the business group, this project is designed to be consolidated in 25 years, a period in which five hotels and six golf courses will be built.
There is also El Salado, an 18-hole golf course on the beach of the same name, 20 km west of Havana in the municipality of Artemisa after the agreement of the El Salado Mixed Company, created by the Spanish company El Salado Resorts LS, a company from Mallorca, and Cubagolf.
Another complex, Carbonera Club, is a tourist property based in Matanzas run by Esencias Hotels, with English capital. This space projects an 18-hole golf course while Chinese investors lead the Bellomonte Campo Golf project, located in Playa del Este in Havana.
The plans of the Cuban regime demonstrate not only the lack of prioritization of the needs of the population, but also the mistake of its state planning, considering that these fields are advancing without clearly informing which water sources will supply them to keep the grass within the limits. international standards -which on average require 130,000 gallons (492,103 liters) of water per day- in a country with supply problems and constant droughts.
The figures of the water crisis in Cuba are well known. There are 29 municipalities with dry behavior, 15 moderately dry, nine severely dry and five extremely dry. The reservoirs accumulate only 44% of their capacity and there are 731 million cubic meters less than the average.
In addition, at least 87 reservoirs report filling below 25% and another 15 have their dead volume. In April of this year, the report included 61 underground basins that are in decline, 34 stable and six that are rising.
The Miguel Díaz-Canel administration knows this. The crisis is in the National Environmental Strategy 2016-2020 where Castroism acknowledges “Cuba lacks abundant water resources and its only source of formation is rainfall. The intensification and recurrence of periods of drought, the inefficient use of this resource, and the deterioration suffered by pollution places it in a critical situation in some regions of the country.”
However, in Cuba there are no laws that regulate the construction of golf courses or access to water. In fact, the island’s National Water Institute admits that the standards “in a general sense and specifically those for consumption are outdated.” The problem is even more serious. The island’s main source of water is “rain and its magnitude is relatively low, the annual average being 1,335 mm” according to Antonio Rodríguez Rodríguez, head of the entity, who admits it without perplexity.
The worst thing is that the situation will not change. On the contrary, it will get worse. In the coming years, the estimate is around less than 10% for 2050 and less than 20% for 2100, but Castroism only thinks of competing with generating spaces that attract the Augusta Masters, PGA Championship, US Open and the British Open while Cubans protest being without light and without food on the table and the Great Cuba Golf Tournament 2022, held between October 26 and 29 in Varadero, only 54 athletes arrived -mostly Canadians- and they represented less than half of attendees of the 2018 competition.