The president of oil-rich Venezuela is campaigning against President Bush’s plan to increase ethanol use in the United States, with the help of his close friend, Cuban President Fidel Castro.
According to NewsMax, Hugo Chavez pledged to undermine a U.S.-Brazil ethanol agreement in a speech made on Tuesday.
“We are working on an alternative proposal,” he said without elaborating. “Just as we overthrew the Free Trade Area of the Americas, we will now overthrow” the ethanol plan.
The Miami Herald notes that Chavez’ attitude is a sudden about face. Until just a few weeks ago, the leftist Chávez was pressing ahead with a five-year project to sow almost 700,000 acres with sugar cane to produce ethanol. With the technical support of Brazil and Cuba, 15 new sugar mills were planned to produce 30,000 barrels of ethanol a day.
However, Chavez says he has no conflict with Brazil, one of the Latin American countries with which he pledges to “share” Venezuela’s enormous oil reserves, or with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Bloomberg reports, “We’ll never fight with Brazil on this, we’ll never fight with Lula,” Chavez said. “The world press says, `It’s `Fidel and Chavez against Bush and Lula.’ No, it’s not like that. It’s Fidel and Chavez against the U.S. empire.”
Castro launched his own attack against the Bush ethanol plan in recently published editorials, saying that “more than three billion people in the world [are] condemned to premature death from hunger and thirst” as a result of Bush’s “sinister idea of converting food into fuel.”
Meanwhile, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is also criticizing the Bush ethanol “fantasy campaign.” Press TV reports Ortega said that he fully agrees with Cuban President Fidel Castro that large-scale production of ethanol as a fuel would affect food production for humankind.