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CUBA: Green Tourism

HAVANA - More than 240,000 people over the last 20 years have made reservations to spend part of their summer vacation in one of the 82 groups of camp-cabins found throughout Cuba.

Camping near the ocean, rivers and mountains on this Caribbean island became the economical option for the younger generations in the 1980s, who could not afford to stay in the pricier tourist villas.

Over time, rustic cabins are replacing tents, and the boom in foreign tourism has made camping a recreational option that is environmentally friendly.


ECUADOR: A Park with Homes

QUITO - The municipal government of the Ecuadorian capital and a local cooperative are to set up a self-governing ''ecological housing park'' in the city's historic center, a district that is included on the Cultural Heritage of Humanity list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The city is in charge of providing all the basic infrastructure and will support the oversight process in the construction of the homes.

''It is the first time that the solution to a housing problem is integrated with an environmental solution, as the greenery of the park will serve as 'lungs' for the city center,'' said María Hernández, president of the cooperative.


ARGENTINA: Mapuches Bank on Tourism

BUENOS AIRES - Some 60 Mapuche indigenous families of Argentina's southwestern province of Neuquén are preparing this month for their second skiing season in Batea Mahuida Park, a tourism project promoted by the community itself, and which attracted 5,000 visitors last year.

The Mapuche community here has been dedicated for centuries to raising goats, but has now turned its attention to the tourism industry. With the backing of local and national government, these indigenous peoples have created ski runs for beginners.

In Villa Pehuenia, eight km from the park, visitors can stay in cabins, and try some of the Mapuches' traditional foods, including boiled pine nuts, sweets and fry-bread.


CHILE: Dispute over Electrical Plant

SANTIAGO - Gener, one of the largest energy companies in Chile, is slated to start up electricity production in mid-August at a petcoke-fired plant in the Huasco Valley, despite the protests of farmers in the area and the reports on its negative environmental impacts.

According to its detractors, the Guacolda plant will cause irreversible harm to the agricultural sector in the Huasco Valley, located 600 km north of Santiago and largely dedicated to olive production.

Petcoke (petroleum coke) is the waste produced from oil refining, a sort of sediment with little combustion capacity and a high content of contaminants.

The Guacolda project was approved by the Regional Environmental Commission of the Third Region of Atacama, a political body.

* Source: Inter Press Service.

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