For Brazil Castro Is Respectable But a Little Old-Fashioned on Ethanol

Cuban leader Fidel Castro Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, compared Brazil to a pilgrimage place or a Mecca while talking about the interest the whole world has shown on Brazilian ethanol and biodiesel. Amorim mentioned the subject when questioned about the criticism  Cuban leader Fidel Castro made to the energetic policy of the American president, George W. Bush, in an article published in the Cuban official newspaper Granma.

The minister avoided to answer directly to Castro arguing that the Cuban leader hadn't mentioned anything about Brazil. But he said that Cuba could benefit from a worldwide biofuel policy.

"President Fidel Castro is a person who is a respectable and historically important figure," the minister said. "But he has some ideas that are outdated."

Amorim told reporter that he went to Cuba 20 years ago "and at that time Castro was already saying ethanol would never work because sugar was a noble product."

"Everyone knows oil is coming to an end," said Amorim. "Brazil is seen today almost as an object of pilgrimage or a  Mecca – to use two different religious examples – for all developed or in-development countries, which come here looking for ethanol and biofuel as a way out for the energetic problems, in order not to get totally dependent on oil."

"Our opinion on ethanol, and the ethanol success has been demonstrated in practice," stated Amorim, adding that he has a lot of respect for Fidel Castro."

I believe everyone has the freedom to express his opinion. But I don't think anything of this was against the Brazilian government or Brazil."

Ending eight months of silence, ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro published an article in Cuban state media Thursday criticizing US environmental policies. The article published in the Cuban Communist Party Daily Granma was the first attempt by Castro, who is recuperating from intestinal surgery, to comment on international issues since he was taken ill in July 2006.

Since the announcement of the temporary delegation of powers to his younger brother Raul July 31, Fidel Castro has only been seen in half a dozen videos and several pictures, the last ones published in March with Colombian Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

"More than 3 billion people in the world condemned to premature death by hunger and thirst," read the headline in Castro's article, which claimed that US President George W Bush's support for using crops to produce ethanol for automobiles in rich nations could deplete food stocks in developing countries.

Cuba had declared Castro's health a "state secret" and has not revealed the exact cause of his illness. Over the past months, the many rumors of the imminent death of the Cuban leader have been strongly denied by the authorities. However, over the last few weeks the expectation of a "comeback" has increased, owing to several hints by Cuban and international officials.

A few weeks ago, Bolivian president, Evo Morales, announced the possibility of a public appearance by Castro on April 28. This would mark the occasion of the first anniversary of Bolivia's joining the Alternativa Bolivariana para las Americas (ALBA), the Cuban and Venezuelan alternative to the US-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Cuba has not yet confirmed this appearance and the island is entering its ninth month without its leader of almost half a century.

In the article, Castro warned that the plans to convert products like corn or soy into ethanol for use as fuel additives could cause serious ecological damage and would adversely affect the third world population.

Castro refers to a meeting Bush had Monday with the leading US automotive groups, in which the president urged them to double the number of vehicles fueled by alternative combustibles such as ethanol, in an attempt to combat climate change and also to reduce the US's dependence of oil.

"I think that reducing and recycling all the electricity and combustible consuming motors is an elemental and urgent necessity for all humanity. The tragedy does not consist in reducing the costs of energy, but in the idea of converting food into combustibles," Castro says in the article.

According to the Cuban leader, even if the US dedicated its entire corn production to the production of ethanol, there still would not be enough ethanol for its fuel needs.
The Cuban president considers that instead of these policies, countries should concentrate in other ways of saving energy, as Cuba does.

"All the countries in the world, poor and rich, could save millions and millions of dollars just by changing all incandescent light bulbs into fluorescent ones, something Cuba has been doing in all homes. That would give climate change a break without starving the poor masses of the world,", considers Castro, who in the past few years has made ecology one of his major interests.

In it, he says he has been "meditating quite a bit since President Bush's meeting with North American automobile makers".

During that meeting on Monday, Mr Castro writes, "the sinister idea of converting food into combustibles was definitively established as the economic line of foreign policy of the United States".

Mr Bush has set targets for an increased use of ethanol – which in the US is mainly made from corn. The US government hopes this will reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil.

The US and Brazil recently signed an agreement to develop biofuels, and their presidents are expected to hold further talks on the matter at the weekend.

Bzz, Mercopress


  • Show Comments (5)

  • Ric

    Many people feel that Castro was atavistic drinking straight bourbon, let alone an Ethanol Old Fashioned.

  • Kevin

    Corn Production In The Midwestern US
    I live in Indiana, and they have been paying farmers to not grow corn for many years. The problem is that the techniques for growing corn in the past 40 years have improved so much from better seeds, better equipment, and better knowlege of topographical/geological/botanical utilization. This has let to a multi-fold incread in volume of corn per growing surface area. With the larger production and the same (much smaller increase) in demand, the price has plumitted and it is was becoming tough to grow corn and even return a profit. This led many producers to have to switch to other crops (soybeans in Indiana). With the now increasing demand of corn, the price is going up, and with this increased price, the production and once again grow. It isn’t that it is not possible to grow enogh corn for food ethanol, but that the demand for corn was not there and there was no need to grow this much corn.

  • forrest allen brown

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. farmers plan to cash in on the fuel ethanol boom by planting the largest area to corn in 63 years, potentially yielding a record crop and calming fears that renewable fuels will steal grain needed for food and feed, the federal government said on Friday.


    At the Chicago Board of Trade, corn futures prices plunged the daily trading limit of 20 cents a bushel on prospects for a huge crop. Prices for this year’s soybean crop fell as much as 33 cents a bushel, and wheat was down 27 cents a bushel.

    Yet even with record output, this year’s corn crop could sell for a record $3.50-$3.60 a bushel at the farm gate, market watchers said. Corn prices on the cash market have doubled since last fall due to explosive growth in the ethanol industry, driving up costs for cattle, dairy, hog and poultry producers.

    Based on a survey of 86,000 farmers earlier this month, the Agriculture Department projected corn (maize) plantings of 90.454 million acres, which would be the largest acreage since 1944. With normal weather and yields, the harvest would be 12.5 billion bushels — 700 million bushels more than the record set in 2004.

    “With a medium yield, we could get just about enough corn in the year ahead,” said private consultant John Schnittker. USDA forecasts corn usage of 12.3 billion bushels in 2007/08, including 3.2 billion bushels for making ethanol, up 1 billion bushels from the 2006 crop.

    Farmers could collect nearly $46 billion with a mammoth corn crop, said Ann Duignan, an analyst at Bear Stearns, “which in our view is positive” for sales of farm equipment.

    The chairman of farm equipment maker Agco Corp., Martin Richenhagen, said when farmers are flush with cash, “they often then invest in equipment.”

    The Renewable Fuels Association, a trade group for alternative fuels, said with high yields the U.S. corn crop could hit 13 billion bushels. “Such a harvest would meet the needs of all the sectors that rely on it,” said RFA.

    There are 114 ethanol distilleries in operation across the country which produce ethanol from corn. Production is projected to exceed 6 billion gallons this year compared with 4.89 billion gallons in 2006, and some 3 billion gallons in capacity will be added in 2007, the group said.

    Planting intentions are months away from actual harvests.

    “The weather is going to drive it all,” said Tom Buis, president of the National Farmers Union, pointing to the uncertainties of the growing season.

    Growers told USDA they will cut back on soybeans in the Midwest and on cotton and rice in the South to sow more corn. Soybeans are forecast at 67.140 million acres, the smallest area since 1996, while upland cotton would be the smallest since 1989 at 11.855 million acres. Rice, at 2.64 million acres, would have the smallest seeded area since 1987.

    Farmers say they will plant 60.3 million acres of wheat, up 5 percent from 2006.

    USDA forecasts only a modest rise in food prices this year, but said, “With high corn prices increasing feed costs, beef and poultry price increases should begin to accelerate in 2007.”

    Schnittker said a large corn crop this year would stabilize food prices in 2008.

    Iowa, traditionally the No. 1 corn state, would plant 13.9 million acres this year, up 1.3 million acres from 2006, USDA said. Illinois would plant a record 12.9 million acres of corn, up 1.6 million acres, while cutting soybean plantings by 1.4 million acres, the largest decline in the country.

    In morning futures trading at the CBOT, corn was offered at $3.74-1/2 a bushel, soybeans traded at $7.67-1/4 per bushel, and wheat was at $4.38-1/2 a bushel.

  • conceicao

    This article suggests to me that the U.S. is succeeding in creating an ideological/diplomatic (really economic) scism in Latin America over ethanol of all things.

  • forrest allen brown

    lets just use water
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    An Australian man has figured out a way to run his car without gasoline. In his experiments with electrolysis he stumbled onto a way to tap inexhaustible amounts of orgone energy that will propel an internal combustion engine. This unique device is non-polluting, easy to build, and could easily usher in a whole new energy revolution that would free us from oil dependency. Thatˢ۪s probably why the inventor was threatened by the oil companies to halt any further development of this technology. Nevertheless, dozens of avid researchers have independently replicated his design and built working units. Out of all the methods available to convert your car to run on an alternate fuel, this invention is by far the simplest and most affordable to replicate. The device has no moving parts, no electronics, nothing to wear out, and also has other beneficial health related effects for the user. Our reference leads you to several hours of video of actual working models demonstrated by the inventor along with detailed instructions on how to build these units from start to finish. Internet Access Required. Virtually anyone with the desire could construct a working unit for a few hundred dollars. Plans
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