Cuba: The Accidental Eden
Video: Full Episode

Cuba may have been restricted politically and economically for the past 50 years, but its borders have remained open to wildlife for which Cuba’s undeveloped islands are an irresistible draw. While many islands in the Caribbean have poisoned or paved over their ecological riches on land and in the sea in pursuit of a growing tourist industry, Cuba’s wild landscapes have remained virtually untouched, creating a safe haven for rare and intriguing indigenous animals, as well as for hundreds of species of migrating birds and marine creatures. Coral reefs have benefited, too. Independent research has shown that Cuba’s corals are doing much better than others both in the Caribbean and around the world. Buy the DVD. This film premiered September 27, 2010.

  • Diana

    It was wonderful! I called so many friends and they all enjoyed it. I do have a collection of “polimitas” but never quite as beautiful as seen the real thing….. amazing work by those who have nothing, only their love for Nature! I’m buying two of this episode.

  • Nancy Rodriguez Suarez

    Thank you for these beautifull scenes of nature in Cuba. I was born in Cuba, (Havana)., and left my country in 1961.
    I didn’t have the oportunity to enjoy my country. I do remember the beaches, expecialy Varadero where we went every year. Other wise I have seen very little of it.
    Watching this video made me be very proud of Cuba, political situation apart. It is beautifull as beautifull as I remember it. I hope you follow up this videa with more videos from other parts of Cuba. At the end of this one I was crying, my heart was telling me how different my life would have been if things in Cuba had remain the way they were before. My husband and I woulld be enjoying all the nature shown on this video. Thank you

  • Zenaida Garcia

    Thank you…I too am choked up with this beautiful video I left when I was 5, and all I remember is the beautiful waters….. Thank you for bringing my country back with this awesome video……

  • Simon McGuinness

    What a wonderful film! I use the extraordinary Cuban example in my work as an environmental consultant.

    Cuba is the ONLY country on Earth which is developing sustainably, according to the World Wildlife Fund (

    It is not coincidental that it has achieved this distinction whilst rejecting free market capitalism. Capitalism and the proper protection of the natural environment are incompatible. Capitalist development relies on exploitation of humanity and of the natural bounty of the planet.

    With an ecological footprint of 1.6hectacres per person, Cuba is well below the global average ecological footprint that the planet can support of 1.8ha/person. The United States, by comparison, has an ecological footprint of 9.7 ha/person. It’s lifestyle is entirely unsustainable on a finite planet. Cuba has, in the words of its former Foreign Minister “all the time in the world” to wait on the USA to change course. That it will do so is inevitable, there is no planet “B”.

    Had Cuba followed the capitalist course laid out for it in the 1950s, it would now be indistinguishable from other places in the Caribbean, maybe even Haiti. The Cuban people are to be congratulated for their intelligent choices and their tenacity to see them through to fulfillment. As an regrettably infrequent visitor, I dread to think the damage that mass US tourism would do to that island paradise.

  • Maria Eugenia Aguirre

    Thank you for this beautiful video of the country of my birth. It truly is, as Columbus declared over 500 years ago, “the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen!”

  • ale1ist

    beautiful my cuba ; very sad ; i would like to be there .thanks for ths video

  • Sakinah

    Wow this was a beautiful, refreshing, honest view of the impact of the political stance of Cuba. Perhaps shared struggle fosters a shared appreciation for natural resources and their conservation. There are many things that could be better, primarily a direct impact of the embargo. Cuba exceeds the US in housing, education and health care, in spite of the dire economic conditions, the country’s investment in natural resources human and envermental has sustained their autonomy. We in the US stand to gain more with these well rounded educated people coming in to the US then Cuba does having Americans polluting Cuba. I have been there three times in the past ten years, I brought my children the third time. They enjoyed the very pro youth culture, safe, secure, and friendly.
    Great Show PBS!

    Thanks for sharing the truth

  • Jose

    Is hard to said, but this mostly untouched nature is maybe the only benefit of 50 years of Castrist in Cuba.

  • Jumaat Sulaiman

    Amazing! Exquisitely beautiful! I miss the ending of this episode–Cuba: The Accidental Eden– and I am truely glad that PBS has it (the whole episode!) on its website. Nature is my favorite program.
    Thank you.

  • Eddy

    Had Cuba followed the capitalist course laid out for it in the 1950s, it would now be wonderful place to live. The Cuban people are under a totalitarian communist system and someday they will be again free. I dread to think the damage that mass global tourism would do to that beautiful island.

  • gabriel castillo

    I have to constanly be amazed by the stupidity of the left in the USA,you seem to care more about the ecology than the people,cubans have suffered under a dictactorship for 51 years,lacking from basic human rights freedom to toothpaste,health and education programs are a false myth,and you worry about snails,please do me a favor why dont you all leftyis go and live there like the natives!you wont last a month!!!

  • Dolores Prajka

    As a proud Cuban American, I agree 100% with Gabriel Castillo comment. Without the proper health care, food, education and the life essentials, all that will remain is the flora and fauna. I wish everyone would stop being so ridiculous & blaming the Embargo and the USA for Cuba’s status. Place the blame were it belongs on Castro who has is one of the wealthiest dictators in the world. 900 Million + This can easily be verified. He is nothing but another Dictator but in Communist clothing.

  • Jasmin M

    Well Gabriel, I agree that human rights in Cuba need to be improved. However, name calling and ridicule of “leftyis” is not the right way to rally people to your cause. If you feel as strongly as you come of to, then do something productive about it. Though it is important to remember, with out a good ecosystem we are all as good as dead. And this IS a show on the beauty of nature. Thanks pbs! “The Accidental Eden” was a lovely program!

  • CMS

    First of all, for those born in Cuba, you have such a beautiful country. You are so blessed to have so many different living beings live around you. For those rich nations/countries, “capitalism” (freedom / human right is different subject) might not be the solution, but to support Cuba financially in economy, as well as to preserve all the wonderful living creatures that God created which many had extinct for good.
    I’m from Asia, and my country used to have one of the oldest rain forest with mountain turtles, wild orchids, small streams with prawns/shrimps, yes, shrimps. Tigers, deers, and for sure one of the best sea turtles’ breeding zone. But they were almost wiped out, because of tourism, development, and of course mining in-land & along coast line. The developed countries were complaining about our timber industry but offer little helps.
    We (the whole world) should appreciate what we have in Cuba, partner with them anyway we can, so that Cuba is balance in economic & politic, while keeping the safe heaven for all precious natural habitat…

  • Elizabeth

    Wonderful episode, thank you.

  • Luis Eduardo

    Hi: I try to watch the episode but, I cant.what I have to do to watch the episode;thanks

  • Ricardo

    Enjoyed seeing Cuba’s beautiful nature, which the Castro’s haven’t managed to distroy, although I’m aware of damage that the regime has caused with projects at Moa and I’m sure these idiots have done things to Cuba’s nature that you aren’t and weren’t made aware of.
    You keep mentioning the Americans coming and distroying Cuba’s nature, truly a crock. Tourist come to Cuba from all over the world including Americans that come through a third country and to blame Americans for Cuba future damaged is a bunch of manure!
    The only embargo in Cuba is the regime’s embargo on its own people.

  • Al Brown

    Cuba’s development was stunted by its own policies not because of some economic embargo. Cuba can trade freely with many nations in the western hemisphere. But it has not allowed people to start the businesses required for development.

    And now even Castro is saying their system isn’t working. Oops, I guess the producers haven’t had a chance to realign their text to not contradict him.

    Its unfortunate that taxpayers are forced to underwrite these political distortions. I was hoping to enjoy a program about nature.

  • gloria a. Lamas

    Very interesting, informative and beautiful video, but first of all lets find out why Cuba has been restricted politically and economically and the reason for the embargo, otherwise people will continue to be misled about the truth. One benefit sure is the probable accidental conservation of nature, and it is important to note that progress could have been made without forcing millions of its people to leave their country.
    We cubans hope that Cuba will improve life conditions and that will keep doing everything possible to keep conserving nature, even if embargo would be lifted.

  • Mrs. E. A. Gonzalez Barry

    Thanks to all that financially supported, collaborated in preparing and showing this educational reportage. I was born in Cuba and emigrated to these great and blessed United States over a half a century ago. Not for the lack of trying, but I have never been able to return for a visit to Cuba, but I do not give up hope.

    I am always exited and grateful when I am able to get a small view of that land and activities unrelated to politics in “la isla mas fermosa que ojos humanos vieran”*…

    *History books report that this was said by Christopher Columbus in 1492 when he landed in Cuba. Translation “The most beautiful island that human eyes have seen.

  • Raul Izquierdo

    i couldnt help thinking of the baby turtles swiming to freedom , and how each of them to me represented a cuban wanting to flee for thier own freedom. ive never been to cuba born here in Miami. growing up listening to stories of what cuba is or was. almost like hearing of stories of disnery world some magical place. maybe one day or in the next life lol i can be a sea turtle with breeding grounds in cuba. great video.

  • Jo An Gaines

    I leave next week for a visit to Cuba cleared by the State Dept. We go as artist and will share ideas and materials with local Cuban artists.. I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba. I take you with me in my heart. This video makes me hope we find a way to connect with the people without destroying its natural gifts.

  • mary.jonathan.chirstin.edward

    only love! very good and interesting!

  • St Louis PR agencies

    Hey can I copy and paste this article on my website? What references have to I give? You ought to give this info for other people too.

  • Desmond Conger

    happy trip. hotels near the city is much cheaper compared to Jumeirah hotel or hotel near the beach. Enjoy.

  • Shelley

    As you can see from comments above, many Americans are ignorant of Cuba’s natural wealth. American tourists are not to be trusted, and they will come in swarms — looting your unique specie. More importantly, please, Cuba, don’t let the extractive industries into your country. They permanently scar, stratify and toxify wherever they are. You think your people are cash poor now — just wait til those industries are through with you. Not only will your people remain cash poor, they’ll now have poisoned water, soil, air, coastline and souls as well. Make sure you educate your people on the irreplaceable treasures you have so wondrously maintained — far more valuable than some tank of gas. It is so easy to betray, bit by bit, for $$, the nature masterworks you are trying to steward and guard. But each piece sold off has a ripple effect of damage throughout all your various ecosystems. Perhaps, also, you should charge more for tourist’s entry to this luxurious nature. Demonstrate that you expect others to really value what you have. The rest of us are hard up for an experience of nearly pristine. Charge more, limit tourists. Also, beware nouveau riche building out from cities, not up. They destroy the very landscape they purportedly want to live in.

  • jo an

    On my way to Cuba…State Dept. sanctioned. Ordered a ‘hard copy’ of this video. It is inspiring and sobering.

  • J

    what player does it required to play this video. cuz i cant play it. help..//

  • kauaiphil

    Wonderful film. I’m one of those “leftyis”? that the right-wing is always angry about. I even had friends who went on the Venceremos thing to Cuba in the late 60’s. Anyway, I spent the 80’s in the Virgins Islands and have been back on the island of Kauai (Hawaii) for 10 years. Came here the first time in 1971 when the population was 35,000. It’s now 60,000. It’s a constant fight to keep the Capitalist Ruling Class from destroying Kauai. However, there are many dedicated people here. Civil disobedience was even used to stop the Superferry: a surfboard blockade. There are many community gardens, farmer markets and environmental groups. The biggest threat is the continued expansion of timeshare and hotel construction. The traffic continues to get worse. Kauai is about 30X30 miles and 60,000 people. St. Thomas, in the USVI is only 2 1/2 X 14 miles with the same population. Driving there is absolutely crazy. One bit of advice: if you visit Kauai, be very careful where you swim. On average, a tourist drowns about once a month. Aloha and peace.


    I only wish I will be able to visit my family in Cuba. Get on a plane and freely travel without the threat of a $10,000 fine. Thanks to Castro, all of my cousins are Doctors or Electronic Techs. He made it mandatory to go to school. He wiped out illiteracy and did much for the people. There is Very little crime in Cuba . I wounder if little HAVANA can say the same!!! The Cubans love Cuba. They just want to be free to come and go and trade ect. We pray that one day soon our prayers will be answered.

  • Tuan

    This program has informed me the Cuba country not only having famous cigars but also a must-wanted treasure that every country wishes to have. In addition, it also gives me an idea that one of the ultimate purposes of human beings living is to live with nature where is away from cement , polluted gases, and noise of guns.

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  • Libertad Labrada

    The video of my wonderful the uban wild nature is great reminder of the pain and sorrow for not giving me the opportunity to enjoy as a cuban native, ’cause when Fidel Castro went into power I was five years old. Since I remember, it was suffering in the island that you and your family could not bear the mental torture of the communist regime. More than 10 times, has been mentioned in this video, blame to the U.S. embargo, which is insulting, lack of respect for the thousands of cubans who has had to leave their country. Before you think about animals… This about the reasons why thousands and thousands of cubans left such a beautiful island, kidnapped by terrorists and communists still today. Some day, like the turtles, we will go back home FREE WITHOUT THREATING OUR OWN HUMAN lives. Every presidential term has asked Castro brothers to free the embargo. They ALWAYS find an excuse, hunger and misery is a strategy of the communist regime. They just don’t give up. U.S. leftists are their voices, as in this video. Before thinking of nature, think of their natives, they are HUMANS.

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  • emmanuel

    “The most beautiful island that any human eyes have ever seen.”

  • Lilian Kubaseotraeumerin

    For 2 years I am dealing with Cuba and looking for information on the subject. There are a lot of pages with “Kuba” or “Cuba”in the url and it is really difficult to find good information.

  • Loved Cuba

    Cuba was in 1989 and still in 2010 one of the most divers and beauticul places I have had the pleasure to visit. No country is perect, but the Cuban people are loving, intelligent and proud of their natural environment and their culture. Let’s hope the American embargo lasts for a long time keeping the hordes away.

  • Danny Haydar

    What a gorgeous, wonderful and inspiring video. Thank you PBS.

    I live in Canada and am fortunate enough to be able to visit the most beautiful island on this planet 2-3 times a year. And the final comments were absolutley true, if Cuba had followed in the Western capitalist path, these beautiful natural monuments may not still be in existence!

    I love every inch of this country and consider it to be my second home!….

    VIVA CUBA!!!

  • H Zamorano

    Absolutely wonderful!

    Too bad Cuba is ruled by egomaniacs who prevent millions of people from around the world from enjoy what that beautiful island has to offer.

  • Nicaro, Oriente

    Really fine show. THANK you PBS.
    It reminded me of a radio program I heard here in the Bay Area perhaps 7 years ago about a restoration project for the river flowing into Havana Harbor. The Cuban guest on the show spoke about how restoration could only be ’sustainable’ by having the community involved, on a day to day, moment to moment basis. This approach removed the requirement for big expensive “clean-up” crews in the form of private corporations or governmental workers. Instead the community themselves picked up the trash (and thereby stopped throwing the trash into the river), planted the plants, etc. It was an eye-opener to me because here in the Bay Area, certain governmental staffers at the time were trying to figure out how to get a BIG grant to do restoration. The Cuban approach is the way.
    I love Cuba and used to live in Nicaro, now in Holguin Province.

  • Lorena

    Cuba is just so beautiful, the people are wonderful, funny, well-educated, warm and interesting, the music and dancing is exceptional, and the food is outstanding. I got to go all over the Caribbean in the ’70s before it got Gucci-fied and far to expensive for locals to live on their islands. Cuba’s the only haven from all of that left, and I fear for its future without good planning & management of resources, wildlife and protection from over-building of resorts, golf courses and such in the near future. I am not from Cuba, but fiercely love it there. I live in Mexico now, am wanting to spend more time in Cuba enjoying its wildlife, nature preserves, fishing and staying in small coastal villages-soon and often. Thanks for the great program, sent to me by a friend as a link he thought I’d enjoy. I certainly did enjoy every minute of it and am crossing my fingers that Cuba has the sense to protect itself from over-extending itself for tourists at the enormous expense of its citizens.

  • raul

    me maravilla ver todas las sandeses , que ustedes los cubanos , { que son la mayoria de los que estan escribiendo comentarios y haciendose pasar por no cubanos } estan describiendo una cuba , tan marabillosa, que de verdad estoy pensando en renunciar a la ciudadania americana y regresar a cuba , porque en el tiempo que yo vivi en cuba , nunca me di cuenta que gracias a papa fidel y el comunismo yo , vivia en el paraiso , o debe de ser que la cochambre , la suciedad , la puteria , y los cubanos tricioneros y chibatos , ya dejaron de excistir y ahora todos son marabilloson seres humanos , que no usa papel sanitario por , no contaminar , y las mujeres se acuestan con los extranjeros cochinos que van a buscar ninas a cuba , para ser acojedores con el visitante , por favor senores no hablen mas mierda y vayan a vivir a cuba , y asi bajan la barriga y el colesterol

  • Alfredo Medina

    ¡Quítense el sombrero por Cuba!

    Hats off to Cuba!!!

  • Karen Simons

    What does the Cuban government want? Are they encouraging the lifting of the embargo? And the people? What do they want? Perhaps lifting the embargo is not the correct thing to do? Will someone please educate me on this?
    Thank you.



  • Diego

    It is no accident. Cuba´s nature and culture have been preserved by the conciouss decision of the peolpe and a revolution to adopt a more sensible system insted of a consummering all devouring capitalist distopia that has sold out the world in the name of freedom. They may not have a lot of things in Cuba, but one thing they are in surpluss is dignity!.

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    Utterly pent subject matter, appreciate it for entropy.

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  • Travler

    This video is beautiful… I traveled to Cuba a few years ago as a student. The “tourist” Cuba is not the same as the Cuban peoples Cuba. Read “Havana Real: One Woman Fights to Tell the Truth about Cuba Today” to learn of the real suffering taking place there.

  • Smile!!!$$$%%%***

    I really liked this video. It was so beautiful. Wow! I didn’t know that parts of Cuba could be so beautiful. I thought that it was all an ugly, poor country.

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  • Gabi

    After visiting Cayo Largo this summer I am very concerned, we rented a small geek and drove around the island. The amounts I garbage I have seen was unbelievable! Half the island looks clean and touristy, the other half terrifying … Garbage washes onto the shore from the boats, hotel trash piled up in another part… I love that place but if I could never go there again I could live. I wish the closed Cato Largi and just keep it isolated as an ecosystem.

  • Charles Thirkill

    $25.00 a month for a biologist in Cuba? You have got to be joking.
    I can match that. Where do I send the cheque, if I want to sponsor the snail researcher?

  • Diana Cuervo

    Many of you have misunderstood the message of this video. You need to get rid of your political tendencies and be just “HUMANS”. Humanity is the best party anyone can have. This video is not saying that communism is the best or that people in Cuba have all the material things they want to have. I am also Cuban and reside in USA. I do have a nice house and a good car, but I am smart enough to admit that every time I start my car to go to work I am polluting the air, a horse would not pollute it. I am smart enough to admit that the boat that my neighbor has is polluting the water every time he uses it. The other neighbor who owns three houses because one house does not satisfy him, I am wondering how many trees they had to cut down in order to satisfy his ambitious project. This is exactly what this video is about. How the economical development destroys the planet and how this people are doing things in a different way to preserve the natural resources. They are an example to follow in order to save our planet. Instead of going to the mall this weekend to buy a pair of shoes that I do not need, I will plant a tree in my backyard to do something positive and smart for my planet.

  • Craig Purcell

    I have seen the teeming & flourishing estuary of the Chesapaeake Bay die off in my lifetime up around Annapolis and it makes me angry — Is this the cost of progress ?

    Would we have done what we had done if we knew the price beforehand ? i.e. — sprawl and all that hot and oily water running off fields of asphalt (with bits of grit in the form of rubber, brake filings, radiator fluid, etc…) and all those exhaust fumes from cars & houses coming back down as raindrops surrounding dirt/ash particles… not a good scene — idiots who want to drill baby drill only to burn all that fossil fuel it all & destroy the biosphere and the gift of life.

  • Larry Bloom

    How do we as a people clean it up…..LETS CLEAN IT UP

  • steve smith

    This program answered a very important question for me which was can we, developed humans, coexist with nature? Well before this video I didn’t have high hopes but one guy said it would be very hard but is possible. Hope.

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