Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fidel Castro blasts U.S. biofuel campaign

Under the headline “Condemned to premature death by hunger and thirst more than 3 billion people of the world," Cuba’s Granma newspaper published an article by ex-dictator Fidel Castro condemning U.S. environmental policy. Fidel condemned “the sinister idea of using food as fuel” by the U.S. though he did not comment on biofuel usage promoted by several Latin American countries like Brazil and Mexico.

Fidel’s article can be read here (in Spanish), though here are a few key translated quotes:

  • The sinister idea of using food as fuel was definitely established as the economic component of U.S. foreign policy.
  • The tragedy is not in reducing energy but in the notion of converting foodstuffs into fuel.
  • Give financing to poor counties to produce ethanol from corn or some other crop and there won’t be a single tree to defend humanity against global warming.
  • In our country, lands that are used for alcohol production would be more suitable to produce food for the people and to protect the environment.
  • All the countries of the world, rich and poor, without exception could save millions of dollars…switching all incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs, something that Cuba has done in all homes throughout the country.
  • There are other topics that can be discussed, yet I merely wish to use this article to comment on the meetings (U.S. President George W.) Bush has had with the main North American auto firms.
Update: Brazil is an area of "pilgrimage" for developing alternatives to fossil fuels, said the country's Foreign Minster in an energetic response to Fidel's remarks. (Link via Monsters & Critics).

Links- CNN, Monsters & Critics, Reuters, The Latin Americanist, Granma

Image- BBC News


Gaston said...

I'm not sure about Mexico, but most biofuel produced in Brazil is not from grain crops, but rather from sugar cane. There are some ecological issues there and food issues if land is taken out of food production for the production of sugar cane, but mostly it is a far far far more efficient process than converting US corn to fuels. I think Brazil has mostly just capitalized on a better market for the long depressed prices on the sugar market.

Erwin C. said...

The issue of how to use corn in Mexico is certainly a contentious issue there since corn and corn-based food [i.e.tortillas] are staples in the Mexican diet.

Brazil's sugar production has grown recently in order to accomodate the demand for ethanol, so it's been quite advantageous for Brazil.

What I don't get is what should be the best fuel alternative according to Fidel. More fossil fuels? Wind power? What?

redwood said...

I am afraid your "dictator" continues to push the envelope for the Left. he's arguing that the US should be reducing its conspicuous levels of energy consumption, not inventing ways to accomodate wasteful behavoir. there are a lot of interesting implications here, none of which have to do with efficiency and bean counting. Take the implications for attacking American Fundamentalist Christian behavior, which in my own recent travels to Nicaragua are clearly taking hold. And, for me, that's not a good thing. As long as Fidel sits back and writes this sort of thing and stays out of domestic politcs, I welcome it.

Erwin C. said...

Point taken in that Fidel is trying to advocate how to reduce conspicous consumption. (e.g. The quote on lightbulbs mentioned in the post)

Still, it seems odd that he condemn using biofuels as a viable alternative energy source. It's a cause being championed by the left so why would he do that. to me it makes very little sense. Hopefully, he or a government official can clarify that sometime soon.

p.s. "your dictator"? Last I recall I don't live in Cuba nor am I conservative!