The Camp David
meeting has just come to an end. All of us followed the press
conference offered by the presidents of the United States and
Brazil attentively, as we did the news surrounding the meeting
and the opinions voiced in this connection.
with demands related to customs duties and subsidies which
protect and support US ethanol production, Bush did not make the
slightest concession to his Brazilian guest at Camp David.
President Lula attributed to this the rise in corn prices,
which, according to his own statements, had gone up more than 85
these statements were made, the Washington Post had
published an article by the Brazilian leader which expounded on
the idea of transforming food into fuel.
not my intention to hurt Brazil or to meddle in the internal
affairs of this great country. It was in effect in Rio de
Janeiro, host of the United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development, exactly 15
years ago, where I delivered a 7-minute speech vehemently
denouncing the environmental dangers that menaced our species’
survival. Bush Sr., then President of the United States, was
present at that meeting and applauded my words out of courtesy;
all other presidents there applauded, too.
at Camp David answered the fundamental question. Where are the
more than 500 million tons of corn and other cereals which the
United States, Europe and wealthy nations require to produce the
gallons of ethanol that big companies in the United States and
other countries demand in exchange for their voluminous
investments going to be produced and who is going to supply
them? Where are the soy, sunflower
and rape seeds, whose essential oils these same, wealthy nations
are to turn into fuel, going to be produced and who will produce
countries are food producers which export their surpluses. The
balance of exporters and consumers had already become precarious
before this and food prices had skyrocketed. In the interests of
brevity, I shall limit myself to pointing out the following:
According to recent data, the five chief producers of corn,
barley, sorghum, rye, millet and oats which Bush wants to
transform into the raw material of ethanol production, supply
the world market with 679 million tons of these products.
Similarly, the five chief consumers, some of which also produce
these grains, currently require 604 million annual tons of these
products. The available surplus is less than 80 million tons of
colossal squandering of cereals destined to fuel production —and
these estimates do not include data on oily seeds—shall serve to
save rich countries less than 15 percent of the total annual
consumption of their voracious automobiles.
Camp David, Bush declared his intention of applying this formula
around the world. This spells nothing other than the
internationalization of genocide.
statements, published by the Washington Post on the eve
of the Camp David meeting, the Brazilian president affirmed that
less than one percent of Brazil’s arable land was used to grow
cane destined to ethanol production. This is nearly three times
the land surface Cuba used when it produced nearly 10 million
tons of sugar a year, before the crisis that befell the Soviet
Union and the advent of climate changes.
country has been producing and exporting sugar for a longer
time. First, on the basis of the work of slaves, whose numbers
swelled to over 300 thousand in the first years of the 19th
century and who turned the Spanish colony into the world’s
number one exporter. Nearly one hundred years later, at the
beginning of the 20th century, when Cuba was a
pseudo-republic which had been denied full independence by US
interventionism; it was immigrants from the West Indies and
illiterate Cubans alone who bore the burden of growing and
harvesting sugarcane on the island. The scourge of our people
was the off-season, inherent to the cyclical nature of the
harvest. Sugarcane plantations were the property of US companies
or powerful Cuban-born landowners. Cuba, thus, has more
experience than anyone as regards the social impact of this
past Sunday, April 1, the CNN televised the opinions of
Brazilian experts who affirm that many lands destined to
sugarcane have been purchased by wealthy Americans and
part of my reflections on the subject, published on March 29, I
expounded on the impact climate change has had on Cuba and on
other basic characteristics of our country’s climate which
contribute to this.
poor and anything but consumerist island,
one would be unable to find enough workers to endure the rigors
of the harvest and to care for the sugarcane plantations in the
ever more intense heat, rains or droughts. When hurricanes lash
the island, not even the best machines can harvest the bent-over
and twisted canes. For centuries, the practice of burning
sugarcane was unknown and no soil was compacted under the weight
of complex machines and enormous trucks. Nitrogen, potassium and
phosphate fertilizers, today extremely expensive, did not yet
even exist, and the dry and wet months succeeded each other
regularly. In modern agriculture, no high yields are possible
without crop rotation methods.
Sunday, April 1, the French Press Agency (AFP) published
disquieting reports on the subject of climate change, which
experts gathered by the United Nations already consider an
inevitable phenomenon that will spell serious repercussions for
the world in the coming decades.
According to a UN report to be approved next week in Brussels,
climate change will have a significant impact on the American
continent, generating more violent storms and heat waves and
causing droughts, the extinction of some species and even hunger
in Latin America.
AFP report indicates that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) forewarned that at the end of this century, every
hemisphere will endure water-related problems and, if
governments take no measures in this connection, rising
temperatures could increase the risks of mortality,
contamination, natural catastrophes and infectious diseases.
Latin America, global warming is already melting glaciers in the
Andes and threatening the Amazon forest, whose perimeter may
slowly be turned into a savannah, the cable goes on to report.
Because a great part of its population lives near the coast, the
United States is also vulnerable to extreme natural phenomena,
as hurricane Katrina demonstrated in 2005.
According to AFP, this is the second of three IPCC reports which
began to be published last February, following an initial
scientific forecast which established the certainty of climate
second 1400-page report which analyzes climate change in
different sectors and regions, of which AFP has obtained a copy,
considers that, even if radical measures to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions that pollute the atmosphere are taken, the
rise in temperatures around the planet in the coming decades is
already unavoidable, concludes the French Press Agency.
to be expected, at the Camp David meeting, Dan Fisk, National
Security advisor for the region, declared that “in
the discussion on regional issues, [I expect] Cuba to come up
(…) if there's anyone that knows how to create starvation, it's
Fidel Castro. He also knows how not to do ethanol”.
As I find myself obliged to respond to this
gentleman, it is my duty to remind him that Cuba’s infant
mortality rate is lower than the United States’. All citizens
—this is beyond question—enjoy free medical services. Everyone
has access to education and no one is denied employment, in
spite of nearly half a century of economic blockade and the
attempts of US governments to starve and economically asphyxiate
the people of Cuba.
China would never devote a single ton of cereals or
leguminous plants to the production of ethanol, and it is an
economically prosperous nation which is breaking growth records,
where all citizens earn the income they need to purchase
essential consumer items, despite the fact that 48 percent of
its population, which exceeds 1.3 billion, works in agriculture.
On the contrary, it has set out to reduce energy consumption
considerably by shutting down thousands of factories which
consume unacceptable amounts of electricity and hydrocarbons. It
imports many of the food products mentioned above from far-off
corners of the world, transporting these over thousands of
Scores of countries do not produce hydrocarbons and
are unable to produce corn and other grains or oily seeds, for
they do not even have enough water to meet their most basic
At a meeting on ethanol production held in Buenos
Aires by the Argentine Oil Industry Chamber and Cereals
Exporters Association, Loek Boonekamp,
the Dutch head of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s
commercial and marketing division, told the press that
governments are very much enthused about this process but that
they should objectively consider whether ethanol ought to be
given such resolute support.
United States is the only country where ethanol can be
profitable and, without subsidies, no other country can make it
According to the report, Boonekamp insists that
ethanol is not manna from Heaven and that we should not blindly
commit to developing this process.
Today, developed countries are pushing to have
fossil fuels mixed with biofuels at around five percent and this
is already affecting agricultural prices. If this figure went up
to 10 percent, 30 percent of the United States’ cultivated
surface and 50 percent of Europe’s would be required. That is
the reason Boonekamp asks himself whether the process is
sustainable, as an increase in the demand for crops destined to
ethanol production would generate higher and less stable prices.
Protectionist measures are today at 54 cents per
gallon and real subsidies reach far higher figures.
Applying the simple arithmetic we learned in high
school, we could show how, by simply replacing incandescent
bulbs with fluorescent ones, as I explained in my previous
reflections, millions and millions of dollars in investment and
energy could be saved, without the need to use a single acre of
In the meantime, we are receiving news from
Washington, through the AP, reporting that the mysterious
disappearance of millions of bees throughout the United States
has edged beekeepers to the brink of a nervous breakdown and
is even cause for concern in
Congress, which will discuss this Thursday the critical
situation facing this insect, essential to the agricultural
sector. According to the report, the first disquieting signs of
this enigma became evident shortly after Christmas in the state
of Florida, when beekeepers discovered that their bees had
vanished without a trace. Since then, the syndrome which experts
have christened as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has reduced
the country’s swarms by 25 percent.
Daniel Weaver, president of the US Beekeepers
Association, stated that more than half a million colonies, each
with a population of nearly 50 thousand bees, had been lost. He
added that the syndrome has struck 30 of the country’s 50
states. What is curious about the phenomenon is that, in many
cases, the mortal remains of the bees are not found.
According to a study conducted by Cornell
University, these industrious insects pollinate crops valued at
anywhere from 12 to 14 billion dollars.
Scientists are entertaining all kinds of hypotheses,
including the theory that a pesticide may have caused the bees’
neurological damage and altered their sense of orientation.
Others lay the blame on the drought and even mobile phone waves,
but, what’s certain is that no one knows exactly what has
unleashed this syndrome.
The worst may be yet to come: a new war aimed at securing gas
and oil supplies that can take humanity to the brink of total
Invoking intelligence sources, Russian newspapers
have reported that a war on Iran has been in the works for over
three years now, since the day the government of the United
States resolved to occupy Iraq completely, unleashing a
seemingly endless and despicable civil war.
All the while, the government of the United States
devotes hundreds of billions to the development of highly
sophisticated technologies, as those which employ
micro-electronic systems or new nuclear weapons which can strike
their targets an hour following the order to attack.
The United States brazenly turns a deaf ear to world
public opinion, which is against all kinds of nuclear weapons.
Razing all of Iran’s factories to the ground is a
relatively easy task, from the technical point of view, for a
powerful country like the United States. The difficult task may
come later, if a new war were to be unleashed against another
Muslim faith which deserves our utmost respect, as do all other
religions of the Near, Middle or Far East, predating or
The arrest of English soldiers at Iran’s territorial
waters recalls the nearly identical act of provocation of the
so-called “Brothers to the Rescue” who, ignoring President
Clinton’s orders advanced over our country’s territorial waters.
Cuba’s absolutely legitimate and defensive action gave the
United States a pretext to promulgate the well-known
Helms-Burton Act, which encroaches upon the sovereignty of other
nations besides Cuba. The powerful media have consigned that
episode to oblivion. No few people attribute the price of oil,
at nearly 70 dollars a gallon as of Monday, to fears of a
possible invasion of Iran.
Where shall poor Third World countries find the
basic resources needed to survive?
I am not exaggerating or using overblown language. I
am confining myself to the facts.
As can be seen, the polyhedron has many dark faces.
April 3, 2007