Monday, April 16, 2007

The Internationalization of Genocide

Granma International recently printed and translated into English, Fidel Castro's response to George Bush's trip to Latin America. The issue of ethanol is put into a new light, that I think is original thinking. Ethanol is commonly talked about as whether it's an effective petroleum substitute from technical viewpoints. Its effect on food production is another issue, not often talked about.

Fidel Castro Ruz
Havana. April 4, 2007

The Camp David meeting has just ended. We all listened with interest to the press conference by the presidents of the United States and Brazil, as well as news about the meeting and opinions stated.

Confronted by the demands of his Brazilian visitor regarding import tariffs and subsidies that protect and support U.S. ethanol production, Bush did not make the slightest concession in Camp David.

President Lula attributed to this higher corn prices which, according to him, had gone up by more than 85 percent.

Previously, the Washington Post newspaper published an article by Brazil's top leader discussing the idea of converting food into fuel.

It is not my intention to hurt Brazil, or to meddle in the internal politics of that great country. It was precisely in Rio de Janeiro, where the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development was held exactly 15 years ago, where I vehemently condemned, in a 7-minute speech, the environmental dangers threatening the existence of our species.

At that meeting, Bush Sr. was present as president of the United States, and in a gesture of courtesy he applauded my words, just like all the other presidents.

Nobody at Camp David responded to the main question. Where and who is going to supply the more than 500 million tons of corn and other cereals that the United States, Europe and the rich countries need to produce the volume of gallons of ethanol that the big U.S. companies and those of other countries are demanding as compensation for their sizeable investments? Where and who is going to produce the soy beans, the sunflower and colza seeds, whose essential oils are going to be converted by those same rich countries into fuel?

A number of countries produce and export their surplus food. The balance between exporters and consumers was already tense, making the prices of those foodstuffs shoot up. In the interest of brevity, I have no other alternative but to confine myself to pointing out the following:

The five top producers of the corn, barley, sorghum, rye, millet and oats that Bush wants to turn into raw materials for producing ethanol supply 679 million tons to the world market, according to recent data. In their turn, the five top consumers, some of which are also producers of these grains, currently need 604 million tons annually. The available surplus comes down to less than 80 million tons.

This colossal waste of cereals for producing fuel, without including oleaginous seeds, would serve only to save the rich countries less than 15 percent of what is annually consumed by their voracious automobiles.

In Camp David, Bush has stated his intention of applying this formula on a world scale, which means nothing else than the internationalization of genocide.

The president of Brazil, in his message published in the Washington Post, right before the Camp David meeting, affirmed that less than one percent of Brazil's arable land is dedicated to sugar cane for producing ethanol. That surface area is almost triple the size of that used in Cuba when almost 10 million tons of sugar were being produced, before the crisis of the USSR and climate change.

Our country has been producing and exporting sugar for a longer time, first based on the labor of slaves, who eventually totaled more than 300,000 in the early years of the 19th century and made the Spanish colony into the top exporter in the world. Almost 100 years later, in the early 20th century, in the pseudo-Republic, whose full independence was thwarted by U.S. intervention, only West Indian immigrants and illiterate Cubans carried the burden of the sugar cane cultivation and cutting. The tragedy of our people was the so-called dead time, due to the cyclical nature of this crop. The cane fields were the property of U.S. companies or large Cuban landowners. We have accumulated, therefore, more experience than anyone else on the social effects of that crop.

Last Sunday, April 1, CNN was reporting the opinion of Brazilian experts, who affirmed that much of the land dedicated to sugarcane cultivation has been purchased by rich individuals from the United States and Europe.

In my reflections published on March 29, I explained the effects of climate change in Cuba, compounded by other traditional characteristics of our climate.

On our island, poor and distant from consumerism, there would not even be sufficient personnel to withstand the harsh rigors of the crop and attention to the cane fields in the midst of the heat, rain or growing droughts. When hurricanes hit, not even the most perfect machines can harvest the tumbled, twisted sugar cane. For centuries, the custom was not to burn it, nor was the soil compacted under the weight of complex machinery and enormous trucks; nitrogenous, potassic and phosphoric fertilizers, now so expensive, did not even exist, and the dry and wet months alternated regularly. In modern agriculture, no high yields are possible without crop rotation.

On Sunday, April 1, the Agence France-Presse news agency published worrying news on climate change, which experts brought together by the United Nations believe to be something that is now inevitable, and with serious consequences in the coming decades.

Climate change will affect the American continent significantly, by generating more violent storms and heat waves, which in Latin America will cause droughts, with the extinction of species and even hunger, according to a UN report to be released next week in Brussels, the AFP reported.

At the end of this century, every hemisphere will suffer from water problems, and if governments do not take steps, higher temperatures could increase the risk of "mortality, pollution, natural disasters and infectious diseases," warns the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), according to the article.

In Latin America, global warming is already melting the Andes icecaps and threatening the forests of the Amazons, which could become grassland, the article says.

Because of the large numbers of people living near coasts, the United States is also exposed to extreme natural phenomena, as was demonstrated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the AFP notes.

This is the second in a series of three IPCC reports, which began in February with an initial scientific diagnosis establishing the certainty of climate change, the article continues.

This second, 1,400-page report, which analyzes the changes by industry and region, and a copy of which was obtained by the AFP, states that even if radical measures are taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, higher temperatures throughout the planet in the coming decades is now a certain fact, the AFP reported.

As could be expected, Dan Fisk, National Security advisor for the region, stated on the same day in the Camp David meeting that in the discussion on regional matters, the Cuba issue would be one of them, and not exactly to address the subject of ethanol -- about which the convalescing President Fidel Castro wrote an article on Thursday -- but instead about the hunger he has created among the Cuban people.

Given the necessity of responding to this gentleman, I feel obliged to remind him that the infant mortality rate in Cuba is lower than that of the United States. He can rest assured that not a single citizen lacks free medical care. Everybody is studying, and nobody lacks the possibility of useful work, despite almost half a century of economic blockade and the attempt by U.S. governments to bring the Cuban people to its knees through hunger and economic asphyxiation.

China would never use even one ton of cereal or legumes to produce ethanol. This is a nation with a prospering economy that has beaten growth records, in which all its citizens receive the income necessary for essential consumer goods, despite the fact that 48% of its population, in excess of 1.3 billion inhabitants, work in the agricultural sector. On the contrary, it has been proposed to save considerable energy by eliminating thousands of factories that consume unacceptable levels of energy and hydrocarbons. Many of the foodstuffs mentioned are imported by China from all corners of the world after being transported thousands of kilometers.

Scores of countries do not produce hydrocarbons and cannot cultivate corn and other grains, or produce oleaginous seeds, because they do not have enough water even to meet their most elemental needs.

In a meeting convened in Buenos Aires by the Oil Industry Chamber and the Exporters Center on the production of ethanol, Dutchman Loek Boonekamp, director of Markets and Agricultural Trade for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, informed the press:

"Governments got very enthusiastic; but they should take a good look as to whether there should be such robust support for ethanol.

"Ethanol production is only viable in the United States; not in any other country, except when subsidies are applied.

"This is not manna from heaven and we don't have to blindly commit ourselves," the cable continues.

"These days, developed countries are pushing for fossil fuels to be mixed with bio-fuels at close to 5% and that is already putting pressure on agricultural prices. If that mixture is raised to 10%, it would need 30% of the sown surface of the United States and 50% of Europe's. That is why I am asking if this is sustainable. An increase in the demand for crops for ethanol would produce higher and more unstable prices."

Protectionist measures have risen today to 54 cents per gallon and real subsidies are much higher.

By applying the simple math that we learn in high school, as I stated in my previous reflections, it can be confirmed that the simple replacement of incandescent light bulbs by fluorescent ones would contribute a saving of investment and energy recourses equivalent to trillions of dollars without using a single hectare of agricultural land.

Meanwhile, news coming from Washington is affirmed textually by the AP:

"The mysterious disappearance of millions of bees across the whole of the United States has beekeepers on the verge of a nervous breakdown and is even worrying Congress, which this Thursday is to debate the critical situation of a key insect for the agricultural sector.

"The first serious signs of this enigma emerged shortly after Christmas in the state of Florida, when beekeepers discovered that the bees had vanished.

"Since then, the syndrome that experts have christened Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has reduced the country's swarms by 25%.

"'We have lost more than half a million colonies, with a population of around 50,000 bees each,' said Daniel Weaver, president of the American Beekeeping Federation, noting that the disease is affecting 30 of the country's 50 states. The curious part of the phenomenon is that in many cases no mortal remains have been found.

"The hardworking insects pollinate crops valued at $12-14 billion, according to a study from Cornell University.

"Scientists are considering all sorts of hypotheses, including one that a certain pesticide has provoked neurological damage in the bees and altered their sense of direction. Others blame the drought, and even cell-phone waves, but what is certain is that nobody knows for sure what the real trigger is."

The worst could be still to come: a new war to ensure supplies of gas and oil, which would place the human species on the brink of a total holocaust.

There are Russian news agencies that, citing intelligence sources, have reported that the war on Iran has been prepared in all its details for more than three years, from the day that the United States decided to totally occupy Iraq, thus unleashing an interminable and odious civil war.

Meanwhile, the United States government is directing hundreds of billions to the development of highly sophisticated technological weapons, such as those utilizing microelectronic systems, or new nuclear weapons that could be over their targets one hour after receiving the order.

The United States is totally ignoring the fact that world opinion is against any type of nuclear weapons.

Demolishing every single Iranian factory is a relatively easy technical task for a power like that of the United States. The difficult part could come afterwards, if another war is launched against another Muslim belief, which merits all our respect, as well as the other religions of the peoples of the Near, Middle and Far East, before or after Christianity.

The arrest of British troops in Iran's jurisdictional waters would seem to be a provocation exactly like that of the so-called Brothers to the Rescue when, in violation of President Clinton's orders, they advanced over waters in our jurisdiction, and the defensive action of Cuba, absolutely legitimate, served as a pretext for the government of the United States to promulgate the infamous Helms-Burton Act, which violates the sovereignty of other countries. The powerful mass media have buried that episode in oblivion. More than a few people are attributing the price of oil, reaching close to $70 per barrel on Monday, to fears of an attack on Iran.

Where are the poor nations of the Third World going to find the minimal resources for survival?

I am not exaggerating or using untempered words; I am going by facts.

As can be seen, the polyhedron has many dark sides


sonia said...

Until there are free elections in Cuba, the likes of Castro have no moral authority to tell people what to do about ethanol or any other issue for that matter. President Lula of Brazil and Bush can have agreements and disagreements on a variety of issues, including ethanol. They both have mandates from their own people to do that. Even Iranian president Ahmadinejad and Chavez were democratically elected (albeit in highly irregular circumstances), so we have to take their stupid speeches seriously, because their do represent a sizable portion of the public opinion of their countries. But Castro has no moral right to lecture anybody. For all we know, not a single Cuban would vote for him anyway.

roman said...

"The United States is totally ignoring the fact that world opinion is against any type of nuclear weapons."
Fidel, we both know another country who ignored that fact, remember the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Anonymous said...

Renegade Eye,

You have posted the views of Fidel Castro on Ethanol, Climate Change, Environmental Crisis, Culture and War. Our planet can only sustain production of Food - it cannot sustain production of so many Consumer Goods. Human activity [Overactivity] has destroyed all ecosystems. In this context I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of Speed, Overstimulation, Consumerism and Industrialization on our Minds and Environment.

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

To read the complete article please follow any of these links :




IG said...

Whatever Fidels "Moral" authority is, he is looking at things from a perspective of those who have nothing in this world but their lives.

Morality is a joke. Fidel has more moral authority than overpriviledge capitalist pigs who live off the exploitation of working people.

Its okay for rich people to live fat while working people starve since they are all just poor and probably colored. Thats rich, white morality for you. What can any procapitalist say about morality without it being a joke. Morality my ass.

I like the moral auhority that Slaves had when they killed the slave masters and burn down the plantation. Thats beautiful.

At least in Cuba there aint no Gusanos like in AmeriKKKa. :)

Whats up RE, glad to see u still doing your thing. Much love to you and keep up the good work.


Sontín said...

Renegade Eye,

I thought it was an interesting and important view on the ethanol debate. What surprised me however, were the comments.

Sonia, it is one thing to debate democracy and political freedom in Cuba, and quite another to talk about the political economy of ethanol production. It is possible to listen to someone you do not normally agree with and then judge their arguments.

Roman, the Cuban Missile Crisis was a long time ago and in a very different context. True, Castro might have a very different line if Cuba had nuclear capacity, but that is beside the point.

Sushil_yadav, well I would agree that we need to change and reorganize how we consume and produce; however, we must also remember that we are part of nature and not some external force. If we keep that in mind, it becomes clear the need to maintain ecological balance while meeting the needs of the human populations. Obviously the capitalist imperative to accumulate capital and the need for continual economic growth, have serious consequences to the environment, but that does not mean that it is the only way to organize large societies. As for the thinking versus emotions part … well I don’t know about you, but I manage to both think and feel.

Red Bolivarian, I agree. Morality depends on the interests of the classes that create, share and reproduce the morality. Is it moral to illegally copy and sell cheap copies of patented drugs? Is it moral to let millions die of AIDS because they can not afford to pay the monopoly prices for those same patented drugs? Who’s morality?

I think I have digressed more than enough for one evening …

Larry Gambone said...

I would like Sonia to tell us how Chavez election was "irregular". Seems to be he got 63% of the votes in an election that foerign observers said was clean

Graeme said...

I am not sold on ethanol. Chavez has been saying this as well. It would be kind of an insult to the world's starving population to grow food for our vechiles while they starve to death.

sonia said...


I would like Sonia to tell us how Chavez election was "irregular".

1. Chavez is cracking down on opposition media, denying them licences to operate legaly. Journalists who write anti-Chavez articles are accused of working for the CIA and plotting a coup - they are harrassed, arrested and killed. Without free speech, there is no free election. Imagine if George W. Bush could deny CNN or some other pro-Democrat TV channels the right to broadcast in the US, only allowing FOX news with its pro-Republican POV...

2. Chavez is expropriating people who donate money to opposition parties, nationalizing their companies. It's a bit like if George W. Bush in 2004 nationalized the Heinz ketchup company, effectively denying his opponent, John Kerry (married to Heinz's owner) access to money to finance his campaign.


It would be kind of an insult to the world's starving population to grow food for our vechiles while they starve to death.

Economically, what you're saying is pure nonsense. It takes the same resources to extract oil and refine it, as it takes to grow sugar cane and transform it into ethanol (especially now, with the oil prices so high). True, the price of sugar will inevitably go up, but people will still grow normal crops. And the money that people will save by not buing oil (money going to Arab terrorists and Chavez's goons) can then be used to buy food.

I can understand why Chavez hates the idea (Saudi monarch hates it too, for the same reason). As for Castro - under Communism, Cuba isn't capable to produce enough sugar cane for sugar, much less for ethanol. But capitalist Brazil is able to produce enough sugar cane to feed itself, run all its vehicles on ethanol (whch don't pollute) and export the surplus, both as sugar and as ethanol.

Viva Lula!!!

Graeme said...


If it uses a large amount of oil to produce ethanol (which is ethanol isn't the savior it is made out to be) then why would oil rich countries give a shit either way?

Sontín said...

Sonia, there are several problems with massive production of cash crops. First of all, large agroindustries force small agricultural producers off their lands leaving numbers of the population to join the urban poor. Secondly, the reduced production of basic food crops (because, for example, land formerly used to produce food is used to produce ethanol crops) results in food shortages and higher costs affecting the poorest segments of the population. So … even if the financial costs of production are similar between oil and ethanol production, the social and general economic costs are not the same. I do agree that it is essential to find alternatives to oil, for both the environment and for any future economic system, but we can not blindly accept the alternative without weighing the consequences.

Frank Partisan said...

uchadorI hope people visit Sontin's blog. His posts come from Sandinesta country.

Roman: The Cuban Missile Crisis was a USSR vs USA thing. Castro was relieved when the missiles were gone. He never asked for them.

It takes 15x to 1x, the amount of energy created by ethanol. John McCain in his rebel days, called it pandering to farm states. It is ok to have some of your energy package come from ethanol. If the price of corn will rise, as opposed to food production, only a planned economy can guarantee the proper use of the crop.

sonia said...

If the price of corn will rise, as opposed to food production, only a planned economy can guarantee the proper use of the crop.

Corn is not an economic way of producing ethanol. Without huge US government subsidies (that's 'planned economy' for you), nobody in his his right mind would invest in that.

Ethanol from sugar cane is the way to go.


reduced production of basic food crops (because, for example, land formerly used to produce food is used to produce ethanol crops) results in food shortages

That's Marxist bullshit. Don't believe that. There are no food shortages when there is free economy. Nobody in his right mind will starve to death while obsessively buying oil (or ethanol). Only Communists government can do that - forcing people to starve while building heavy industry (it happened under PLANNED ECONOMY under Stalin in 1933 and Mao in the late 50's). In a free economy, people will always buy food before buying oil, so food crops will always be there. Ethanol will be produced from EXCESS production. And capitalist countries have plenty of excess.

troutsky said...

Im no economist but this shortage-less, "free economy" of sonias sounds more utopian than anything the late Marxists throw down.I also don't know what conditions it takes to grow sugarcane but i know there are consequences to all agro-industry. The National geographic had an article on the devestating effects to amazon ecosystem and cultures of mass soybean industry.

Only a participatory economy can decide democratically to do with less, capitalism is always about more.Under the guise of "free" markets powerful ,undemocratic powers pull the strings.

Graeme said...

The US has a planned economy. It is planned by the elites, and they isolate themselves from any risks of the rigged market.The ag subsidies are just one example.

A real free market, with business run by decentralized worker councils, wouldn't be have bad.

sonia said...


The US has a planned economy.

That's true, but far less so than Cuba or Venezuela. But far more so than Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Ireland.

A real free market, with business run by decentralized worker councils, wouldn't be half bad.

Just don't call them 'workers councils (smells of Bolshevism). Call them 'shareholders meetings' and you've got small-c capitalism at its purest (like in today's Ireland, where most corporations are small and locally owned)...

Frank Partisan said...

See: Mexixan Tortilla Riots.

Graeme said...

I don't know, but I very much doubt Ireland's corporations are run by bottom up democracy.

(Under Chavez, co-ops have been taking over Venezuela.)

That article is interesting. Even the farmers aren't too happy about rising corn prices.

Sontín said...

Dear Sonia,

Here in Waslala, Nicaragua, there are food shortages every two or three years, and we have been living in a “free economy” for the last 16 years. I agree that large planned economies can, and definitely have, made the horrendous errors that create absolute scarcity of food products. However I am also aware that capitalist free markets create relative scarcity of food products with very similar results. To give you an example, in Waslala under capitalism, one can always buy food. However, when there is a bad harvest (often due to climate changes that are a result of global consumption and production patterns), the local producers have neither the crops they grew to eat nor the money to buy the food that is available at high prices through the market. People starve, and people – usually young children - die. As you said “capitalist countries have plenty of excess”, however that excess is only available to those who can buy it, and it is often decided to keep the excess, and maintain prices high, rather than lower the prices – even if it means letting people die from hunger. Ethanol production requires large amounts of land for cultivation, and most of this land is either being used for food production, or is covered by cities and towns. If we divert land production from food production to ethanol production at a massive scale, food prices will go up. There will be no absolute food shortage – those who have money will always be able to buy what they need – however the most vulnerable portion of the global population will suffer from food shortages. You say that no one “in their right mind will starve to death while obsessively buying oil (or ethanol).” However the people who obsessively buy oil or ethanol are not the same people who die from hunger.

So in the end, what I was talking about truly is a shitty situation as you pointed out, but it isn’t “Marxist bullshit”, it is Capitalist bullshit.

Bob said...

I am not sold on ethanol. Chavez has been saying this as well. It would be kind of an insult to the world's starving population to grow food for our vechiles while they starve to death

Not to mention that even if every bit of arable land in the US was used for planting the crops used in the production of ethanol it would only replace 12% of the current fuel needs. The Europeans would have to plant crops in highway medians along with replacing their food crops to replace 15% of their needs.

Ethanol is a joke of the worst variety unfortunately the corn lobbyists are throwing their $$ into politicians pockets and the politicians are listening and conveniently ignoring every recent study.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember the priest telling me when I went to Confession when I was a kid, "Well, Lance, it was wrong of you to disobey your mom and talk back to her like that, but since you set the table every night and do your homework and sent your aunt a birthday card, what the heck! You're a good kid. Your sins are forgiven automatically. No need for you to do any penance." 文秘 心脑血管 糖尿病 高血压 糖尿病 高血脂 高脂血症 冠心病 心律失常 心肌病 心肌炎 中风 And maybe it's happened a few times and I haven't heard about it but I can't recall a judge ever letting somebody walk on the grounds the crook was a good guy and his friends really like him.

Anonymous said...