Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has decided to enter the fray of environmental policy — this time attacking ethanol. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t all Americans who love Castro and Chavez also love ethanol….?)
This is the transcript of a phone conversation Chavez had with the former Cuban dictator (and now nursing home patient) Fidel Castro. It played on Chavez’s Sunday variety show Alo Presidente, which is sort of like Saturday Night Live, except not intentionally.
The conversation is interesting at several levels. Besides the environmental issue, it shows the dictators’ embarrassing love-fest, and also reveals how confused Castro is (notice halfway through how he accidentally blows Chavez’s cover by revealing that they had just prepped this whole conversation the other day):
Chávez: Do you know how many hectares of corn are necessary to produce a million barrels of ethanol ?
Castro: To do what …?
Chávez: To produce a million barrels of ethanol.
Castro: Ethanol. I think you told me the other day that it is was 20 million hectares, or something like that.
Chávez: [laughs] That’s right.
Castro: But, can you remind me?
Chávez No, 20 million. No, you are the one with the privileged mind, not me.
Castro: All right! 20 million.
President Chávez Yes.
Castro: Well, and of course, the idea of using food to produce fuel is a tragic one; it is dramatic, no one can be sure how high food prices will get when the soy is turned into fuel, especially because it is needed in the world, to produce eggs, to produce milk, to produce meat, and it is another tragedy, in addition to the many tragedies existing in the world today. I am glad that you have decided to stand up for the species, because it is hard to fight for the salvation of the species, because there are new and tough problems, and you have turned into a preacher, a real great preacher, a defender of the cause, even a defender of the life of the species. For that, I congratulate you.
I don’t know much about the environment, but I do know one thing: What most countries need in order to produce sufficient quantities of eggs, milk, and meat, is not more soybeans, but rather a president who is as different from Fidel Castro as humanly possible.