1 May 2007
A huge crowd of more than one million Cubans poured into the Revolution Plaza in Havana for the May Day celebrations that carry special significance in this Socialist state. Contrary to speculations (fueled by recent comments by Venezuelan and Bolivian presidents) that the ailing Cuban president may attend the festivities, Fidel Castro was conspicuously missing from the stage. Fidel has traditionally attended the May Day Festivities and his absence indicates that he has not recovered sufficiently from the intestinal surgery he underwent nine months back.
Raul Castro, the first Vice President and Defense Minister presided over what was indisputably the largest May Day rally of 2007. On the eve of the occasion Fidel Castro had urged Cubans to turn the Labor Day into a day of protest against the US. Cubans were to particularly protest against the continued detention in US jails of the Miami 5 (read about Miami 5 at this link http://www.freethefive.org/whoarethefive.htm#continued )
and the release from prison in America of Luis Posada Carriles-the alleged mastermind of the bombing of a Cuban passenger plane in 1976 that killed 73 people aboard.
A sea of Cubans carrying placards denouncing the “empire” and posters of the nation’s heroes marched past before the dignitaries at the Revolutionary Plaza for more than two hours. Many pledged loyalty to Fidel and shouts of Fidel, Fidel came from the crowd. The Cuban official Newspaper Granma reported that; “1645 representatives of trade unions and social movements from 242 organizations and 74 countries [were] present at the main event in the capital.”
Fidel Calls for immediate energy revolution
In a four-page article, one of a recent series published as ‘reflections of president Fidel Castro’, the Cuban leader took pains to explain why he was opposed biofuel. During president George Bush’s recent trip to Latin America, talks were held with the Brazilian president Lula for Brazil to supply biofuel (fuel obtained from foodstuff like maize, sugarcane and grain) to the US. Fidel apparently believes the Brazilian president did not completely understand the ramifications of what he was leading his country into. “I hold nothing wrong against Brazil”, Castro writes. “However, for me to keep silent would be to opt between the idea of a world tragedy and presumed benefit for the people of that great nation.” While the Brazilian authorities see the prospects of reaping economic benefits from exporting biofuel to her neighbor to the North, the Cuban leader views the idea of converting food into fuel as a recipe for world hunger especially in poor countries. Arguing that majority of today’s 6.5 billion people are poor and they currently share food with domestic animals, he says the food crisis will be exacerbated if they have to further share that food with biofuels. “Prices for [corn] the stable diet in numerous countries in the region have almost doubled. What will happen when hundreds of millions of tons of corn are redirected toward the production of biofuel?”
Fidel blames the rich industrialized nations for wasteful consumerism. Talking about the US the Cuban leader said; “Insatiable in its demand, the empire had launched into the world the slogan of producing biofuels in order to free the United States, the world’s supreme energy consumer, from all external dependency on hydrocarbons”. He argues that even if attempts are made to increase food production, other problems like reduced grazing land, water shortages and environmental problems linked to global warming will nullify the effort. Castro believes the rich nations to the north stand to benefit at the detriment of third world countries. “Nothing is preventing the U.S and the European capital from funding biofuels. The United States, Europe and other industrialized nations would save more than $140 billion every year without having to worry about the consequences for the climate and the hunger which would affect the countries of the third world in the first place. They would always be left with enough money for biofuels and to acquire the little food available on the world market at any price”.
Fidel concludes that, “It is imperative to have an immediate energy revolution that consists not only of replacing all the incandescent light bulbs, but also of massively recycling all domestic, commercial, industrial, transport and social electric appliances that require two and three times more energy with their earlier technologies”. Adding, “It hurts to think that 10 billion tons of fossil fuel is consumed every year. This means that each year we waste what it took nature one million years to create”.
This was Fidel Castro’s topic for reflection on May Day as reported in Granma.
Njei Moses Timah