Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ethanol confusion

Maybe I haven’t followed the discussion closely enough, but Cuba’s policy on ethanol development is a little unclear to me. A year ago Cuba took a big political step in seeking foreign investment in sugar production and milling, so as to take advantage of higher sugar prices and to capitalize, with additional foreign investment, on the ethanol opportunity.

Fidel Castro then quashed the whole idea in his written commentaries, and his reasoning reached all the way back to exploitation of sugar workers in Brazil.

Now minister of basic industries Yadira Garcia, says, according to EFE, that her country supports ethanol production as long as it does not imply denying food to the poor or reassigning lands that produce vegetables for human consumption. Which means, given Cuba’s land use patterns and the enormous surplus of sugar lands, full speed ahead in Cuba.

Did I miss something, or did we all miss the behind-the scenes debates that twice reversed Cuba’s ethanol policy?

Here, from AP in English, a little more light on the issue.

1 comment:

leftside said...

I don't think there have been 2 "reversals" on Cuba's ethanol policy. While the debate is complex I have always understood that the problem is primarily with the expansion of corn and other food-based ethanol. Cornfields will overtake other foods and the price of food will become part of the oil market. Corn is also terribly inefficient compared to sugar based ethanol. Sugar does not have as immediate effect on food prices as corn and other grains. Castro went out his way to say Brazil had a mostly good approach, but warned of the deal with Bush. Cuba is in particular good position to utilize its shuttered facilities and old fields without disrupting arable land.