Reflections of Cuban President Fidel Castro
The internationalization of genocide
(3 Apr) 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 with the demands of his Brazilian visitor regarding import tariffs and subsidies that protect and support US ethanol production, Bush did not make the slightest concession.
The brutal response
(11 Apr) George W. Bush is undoubtedly the most genuine representative of a system of terror forced on the world by the technological, economic and political superiority of the most powerful country known to this planet. For this reason, we share the tragedy of the American people and their ethical values. The instructions for the verdict issued by Judge Kathleen Cardone, of the El Paso Federal Court last Friday, granting Luis Posada Carriles freedom on bail, could only have come from the White House.
Remembering the Speech delivered by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on 12 June 1992
Reflections of Cuban President Fidel Castro
More than three billion people in the world condemned to premature death from hunger and thirst
The sinister idea of converting food into fuel was definitively established as an economic line in US foreign policy last Monday, March 26.
A cable from the AP, the US news agency that reaches all corners of the world, states verbatim:
"WASHINGTON, March 26 (AP). President Bush touted the benefits of 'flexible fuel' vehicles running on ethanol and biodiesel on Monday, meeting with automakers to boost support for his energy plans.
"Bush said a commitment by the leaders of the domestic auto industry to double their production of flex-fuel vehicles could help motorists shift away from gasoline and reduce the nation's reliance on imported oil.
'"That's a major technological breakthrough for the country,' Bush said after inspecting three alternative vehicles. If the nation wants to reduce gasoline use, he said "the consumer has got to be in a position to make a rational choice."
"The president urged Congress to 'move expeditiously' on legislation the administration recently proposed to require the use of 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017 and seek higher fuel economy standards for automobiles.
"Bush met with General Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner, Ford Motor Co. chief executive Alan Mulally and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group chief executive Tom LaSorda.
"They discussed support for flex-fuel vehicles, attempts to develop ethanol from alternative sources like switchgrass and wood chips and the administration's proposal to reduce gas consumption by 20 percent in 10 years.
"The discussions came amid rising gasoline prices. The latest Lundberg Survey found the nationwide average for gasoline has risen 6 cents per gallon in the past two weeks to $2.61."
I believe that reducing and moreover recycling all motors that run on electricity and fuel is an elemental and urgent need for all humanity. The tragedy does not lie in reducing those energy costs but in the idea of converting food into fuel.
It is known very precisely today that one ton of corn can only produce 413 liters of ethanol on average, according to densities. That is equivalent to 109 gallons.
The average price of corn in US ports has risen to $167 per ton. Thus, 320 million tons of corn would be required to produce 35 billion gallons of ethanol.
According to FAO figures, the US corn harvest rose to 280.2 million tons in the year 2005.
Although the president is talking of producing fuel derived from grass or wood shavings, anyone can understand that these are phrases totally lacking in realism. Let's be clear: 35 billion gallons translates into 35 followed by nine zeros!
Other countries in the rich world are planning to use not only corn but also wheat, sunflower seeds, rapeseed and other foods for fuel production. For the Europeans, for example, it would become a business to import all of the world's soybeans with the aim of reducing the fuel costs for their automobiles and feeding their animals with the chaff from that legume, particularly rich in all types of essential amino acids.
In Cuba, alcohol used to be produced as a byproduct of the sugar industry after having made three extractions of sugar from cane juice. Climate change is already affecting our sugar production. Lengthy periods of drought alternating with record rainfall, that barely make it possible to produce sugar with an adequate yield during the 100 days of our very moderate winter; hence, there is less sugar per ton of cane or less cane per hectare due to prolonged drought in the months of planting and cultivation.
I understand that in Venezuela they would be using alcohol not for export but to improve the environmental quality of their own fuel. For that reason, apart from the excellent Brazilian technology for producing alcohol, in Cuba the use of such a technology for the direct production of alcohol from sugar cane juice is no more than a dream or the whim of those carried away by that idea. In our country, land handed over to the direct production of alcohol could be much useful for food production for the people and for environmental protection.
All the countries of the world, rich and poor, without any exception, could save millions and millions of dollars in investment and fuel simply by changing all the incandescent light bulbs for fluorescent ones, an exercise that Cuba has carried out in all homes throughout the country. That would provide a breathing space to resist climate change without killing the poor masses through hunger.
As can be observed, I am not using adjectives to qualify the system and the lords of the earth. That task can be excellently undertaken by news experts and honest social, economic and political scientists abounding in the world who are constantly delving into to the present and future of our species. A computer and the growing number of Internet networks are sufficient for that.
Today, we are seeing for the first time a really globalized economy and a dominant power in the economic, political and military terrain that in no way resembles that of Imperial Rome.
Some people will be asking themselves why I am talking of hunger and thirst. My response to that: it is not about the other side of the coin, but about several sides of something else, like a die with six sides, or a polyhedron with many more sides.
I refer in this case to an official news agency, founded in 1945 and generally well-informed about economic and social questions in the world: TELAM. It said, and I quote:
"In just 18 years, close to 2 billion people will be living in countries and regions where water will be a distant memory. Two-thirds of the world's population could be living in places where that scarcity produces social and economic tensions of such a magnitude that it could lead nations to wars for the precious 'blue gold.'
"Over the last 100 years, the use of water has increased at a rate twice as fast as that of population growth.
"According to statistics from the World Water Council, it is estimated that by 2015, the number of inhabitants affected by this grave situation will rise by 3.5 billion people.
"The United Nations celebrated World Water Day on March 23, and called to begin confronting, that very day, the international scarcity of water, under the coordination of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with the goal of highlighting the increasing importance of water scarcity on a global scale, and the need for greater integration and cooperation that would make it possible to guarantee sustained and efficient management of water resources.
"Many regions on the planet are suffering from severe water shortages, living with less than 500 cubic meters per person per year. The number of regions suffering from chronic scarcity of this vital element is increasingly growing.
"The principal consequences of water scarcity are an insufficient amount of the precious liquid for producing food, the impossibility of industrial, urban and tourism development and health problems."
That was the TELEAM cable.
In this case I will refrain from mentioning other important facts, like the melting ice in Greenland and the Antarctic, damage to the ozone layer and the growing volume of mercury in many species of fish for common consumption.
There are other issues that could be addressed, but with these lines I am just trying to comment on President Bush's meeting with the principal executives of US automakers.
March 28, 2007
Translated by Granma International
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Reflections of Cuban President Fidel CastroThe internationalization of genocide
Confronted with the demands of his Brazilian visitor regarding import tariffs and subsidies that protect and support US 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. (The speech is reproduced in this edition)
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.
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 per cent 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 per cent 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 labour 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 US 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 US 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 ice caps 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 US 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 per cent 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 per cent, it would need 30 per cent of the sown surface of the United States and 50 per cent 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 per cent.
"'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.
April 3, 2007
Fidel Castro Ruz
Translated by Granma International
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Reflections of Cuban President Fidel Castro
The brutal response
For that reason we share in the tragedy of the US people themselves and their ethical values. Only from the White House could instructions have come for the ruling issued by Kathleen Cardone, a federal court judge in El Paso, Texas, last Friday, granting bail to Luis Posada Carriles.
It was President Bush himself who at every moment evaded the criminal and terrorist nature of the defendant. He was protected by being charged with a simple violation of immigration paperwork. The response is brutal. The United States government and its most representative institutions decided beforehand on the monster's freedom.
The history is well known, and goes way back. Those who trained and ordered the destruction of a Cuban passenger plane in mid-flight, with 73 athletes, students and other national and foreign travelers on board, as well as the selfless flight crew; those who, when the terrorist was in prison in Venezuela, bought his freedom to supply and virtually direct a dirty war against the Nicaraguan people, which signified the loss of thousands of lives and the country's ruin for decades; those who gave him powers to traffic in drugs and weapons with the goal of evading Congress laws; those who with him created the terrible Operation Condor and internationalized terror; those who brought terror, death and often the physical disappearance of thousands of Latin Americans; it was impossible that they could act in any other way.
The fact that Bush's decision was expected does not make it any less humiliating for our people, because on the basis of the revelations of the Por Esto! newspaper in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, later complemented by our own media, it was Cuba that knew with all precision that Posada Carriles entered from Central America, via Cancun, to Isla Mujeres, from where, aboard the Santrina, after that boat was inspected by Mexican federal authorities, he headed directly to Miami together with other terrorists.
Although [the US] government had been exposed and publicly called upon with exact information on the issue on April 11, 2005, it delayed arresting the terrorist for more than one month, and took more than a year and a half to admit that Luis Posada Carriles entered Florida's coasts illegally aboard the Santrina, a supposed ship-school registered in the United States.
About his countless victims, his bombs against tourist facilities in recent years, his dozens of plans financed by the United States government to physically eliminate me, not one single word has been said.
Throughout this almost half a century, everything was valid against our small island, 90 miles from its coast, which wanted to be independent. The largest intelligence and subversion station was installed that has ever existed on the planet was installed in Florida.
The mercenary Bay of Pigs invasion was not enough, the one that cost our people 176 lives and more than 300 injured, when the few medical specialists that they had left us lacked experience in treating war injuries.
Before that, on the docks of Havana's port the French vessel La Coubre, which was carrying Belgian-made weapons and grenades for Cuba, had exploded causing - with two, well-synchronized explosions - the death of more than 100 workers, and many more injured in the midst of rescue efforts.
The October [Missile] Crisis of 1962 was not enough, the one that took the world to the brink of total nuclear war, at a time when there already existed bombs 50 times more powerful that those that exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It was not enough to introduce into our country viruses, bacteria and fungi against our plantations and herds, and even - though it may seem incredible - against human beings. It was out of US laboratories that some of these pathogens came, to be taken to Cuba by notorious terrorists at the service of the United States government.
To all of this is added the enormous injustice of maintaining in prison five heroic patriots who, for having supplied information on terrorist activities, were condemned in a rigged process to up to two life sentences in prison, and who are stoically withstanding, each one of them in different prisons, cruel mistreatment.
On more than one occasion, the Cuban people have not hesitated in defying the risk of death. They have demonstrated that with intelligence, using appropriate tactics and strategies, particularly strengthening their unity around their political and social vanguard, no force in the world will be capable of defeating them.
I think that next May Day would be the ideal day for our people, with a minimum use of fuel and transportation, to outwardly express their sentiments to the workers and poor of the world.
Fidel Castro Ruz.
April 10, 2007.
Translated by Granma International
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Remembering the Speech delivered by Cuban President Fidel Castro at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on June 12, 1992
Mr. President of Brazil Fernando Collor de Melo;
Mr. UN Secretary General Brutru Butrus-Ghali;
An important biological species is in danger of disappearing due to the fast and progressive destruction of its natural living conditions: mankind.
We have now become aware of this problem when it is almost too late to stop it.
It is necessary to point out that consumer societies are fundamentally responsible for the brutal destruction of the environment. They arose from the old colonial powers and from imperialist policies which in turn engendered the backwardness and poverty which today afflicts the vast majority of mankind.
With only 20 per cent of the world's population, these societies consume two-thirds of the metals and three-fourths of the energy produced in the world. They have poisoned the seas and rivers, polluted the air, weakened and punctured the ozone layer, saturated the atmosphere with gases which are changing weather conditions with a catastrophic effect we are already beginning to experience.
The forests are disappearing. The deserts are expanding. Every year billons of tons of fertile soil end up in the sea. Numerous species are becoming extinct. Population pressures and poverty trigger frenzied efforts to survive even when it is at the expense of the environment. It is not possible to blame the Third World countries for this. Yesterday, they were colonies; today, they are nations exploited and pillaged by an unjust international economic order.
The solution cannot be to prevent the development of those who need it most. The reality is that anything that nowadays contributes to underdevelopment and poverty constitutes a flagrant violation of ecology. Tens of millions of men, women, and children die every year in the Third World as a result of this, more than in each of the two world wars. Unequal terms of trade, protectionism, and the foreign debt assault the ecology and promote the destruction of the environment.
If we want to save mankind from this self-destruction, we have to better distribute the wealth and technologies available in the world. Less luxury and less waste by a few countries is needed so there is less poverty and less hunger on a large part of the Earth. We do not need any more transferring to the Third World of lifestyles and consumption habits that ruin the environment. Let human life become more rational.
Let us implement a just international economic order. Let us use all the science necessary for pollution-free, sustained development. Let us pay the ecological debt, and not the foreign debt. Let hunger disappear, and not humanity.
Now that the alleged threat of communism has disappeared and there are no longer any more excuses for cold wars, arms races, and military spending, what is blocking the immediate use of these resources to promote the development of the Third World and fight the threat of the ecological destruction of the planet?
Let selfishness end. Let hegemonies end. Let insensitivity, irresponsibility, and deceit end. Tomorrow it will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago. Thank you.
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