Friday, April 13, 2007

Castro and Chávez lash out at ethanol

Once upon a time, a certain autocrat of an oil rich country decided to team up with his geriatric Marxist paramour to create a partnership for the production of a trendy biofuel we in the United States like to call ethanol.

In 2005, Hugo Chávez directed the Venezuelan state oil company to strike a deal with the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras to import ethanol to Venezuela. At the same time, Chávez ordered that 700,000 acres of land be set aside to grow sugar cane for the production of ethanol. Finally, as a hand out to his doddering Communist amigo, Chávez planned to let Cuba build 11 sugar processing plants as the final step in Venezuela's newfound commitment to ethanol production industry. After all, enthused Chávez, ethanol is clean fuel! More money for the Bolivarian revolucion! And so on and so forth. Castro was delighted because Cuba is rich in sugar, and poor in fuel. Sugar to Venezuela means fuel coming back to Cuba. Everyone wins!

And then, it all went sour. And for a reason even a five year old would be embarrassed to admit. Jealousy.

You see, Chávez's hated archenemy, US president George W. Bush, visited Brazil, and struck up an ethanol partnership of his own with Brazilian president Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva. It makes sense, after all. The United States is the world's largest ethanol producer, while Brazil is the second largest. An ethanol partnership is not only logical, but frankly, inevitable.

One can logically presume that Hugo Chávez's face must have looked like he was choking on a rat sandwich when he saw this photo. What? Yanqui imperialists making their own ethanol side deals with Brazil? Unacceptable!

And so, Chávez did the only sensible thing a man in his position could do: throw a temper tantrum. Chávez performed an about face, and denounced ethanol as a "waste of space" that could be growing "food for the hungry" instead of "filling rich people's cars". A cynic would note that Venezuela's economy is completely dependent on producing oil to fill "rich people's cars", and that Chávez himself was going to clear 700,000 acres for growing sugar cane as a cash crop for ethanol, but I suppose there's no point trying nitpick with dimwitted Socialist autocrats, is there?

Never one to be outdone by his lapdog, Fidel Castro added further bombast by denouncing George Bush as "condemning three billion people" to "premature death" by starvation. All it took for Chávez's pie in the sky ethanol dreams to come crashing down was the participation of "the devil". In one fit of pique, Chávez has spited Venezuela out of countless millions of dollars worth of ethanol production, and Cuba has deprived itself not only of fuel, but of an actual market for its sugar crop. Producing ethanol from sugarcane not only provides a market for the existing sugar crop (now trading at near record lows on the world market), but increases demand for sugar cane, thereby raising the price. And that would actually provide Cuba with desperately needed hard currency to lift itself out of poverty, as well as providing cheaper fuel for itself.

But, no. It wouldn't do for the hemisphere's leading Marxist morons to engage in any enterprise, no matter how profitable or sensible it may be, that the United States may engage in as well. We can only hope for both Cuba and Venezuela's sakes that both Chávez and Castro ride off into the sunset, and leave the serious business of governance to new leaders who put the economic and social welfare of the people ahead of the petty personalities of their rulers.

1 comment:

wrki said...

What an excellent piece.

I had to laugh.

I don't agree that ethanol is the cure to our energy woes. They were touting it as a miravle fuel during the fuel crisis in the 70s along with the metric system as that newfangled way were all going to learn how to measure...

Producing ethanol hasn't been proven much cleaner, although I agree that it would give Caribbean countries (who've been pushed out of sugar production because it's so costly to produce) some well deserved revenue not so dependent on tourist dollars.

It makes me sad that profitability keeps some really essential and common sense technology from being used. It annoys me.

I wish I had stronger arguments against your Chavez observations, but let's face it...he's as much of a businessman as any country leader.

I wonder what will happen when Rigoberta Menchu Tum wins Guatemala's election...

Thanks for the food for thought...