Reflections by Comrade Fidel
THE TIME HAS COME TO DO SOMETHING
I shall relate a bit of history.
When the Spanish “discovered” us five hundred years ago, the estimated
population on the
In some regions of
The current population of
The native population was replaced by the importing of Africans captured by force and enslaved, a cruel practice that was applied during centuries.
Of great importance for our existence were the eating habits that were created. We were turned into consumers of pork, beef, lamb, milk, cheese and other by-products; wheat, oats, barley, chickpeas, kidney beans, peas and other legumes coming from different climates.
Originally we had corn and sugar cane was introduced among the calorie-rich plants.
Coffee was brought in by the conquistadors from Africa; cacao was
possibly brought from
The slave-based production system lasted in fact until the transfer of
Cuban sovereignty by Spanish colonialism to the
When the Revolution triumphed in 1959, our island was a true Yankee
For those who want to understand, that’s all you need.
In spite of the fact that the necessities of rice, corn, fats, grains and other food production were important, the United States was imposing determinate limits on everything that was in competition with its own domestic production, including the subsidized sugar beet.
Of course, in terms of food production it is a real fact that within the
geographical limits of a small, rainy and hurricane-beset tropical country bereft
of machinery, dams, irrigation systems and adequate equipment,
It is a fact that the Cuban Revolution has not enjoyed a moment of peace. The Agrarian Reform had barely been passed, before the five-month mark of the revolutionary triumph had been reached and the programs of sabotage, fires, obstruction and the use of harmful chemical measures were begun against our country. These even came to include pests to attack vital productions and even human health.
By underestimating our people and their decision to fight for their rights and their independence, they committed an error.
Of course, none of us at that time possessed the experience collected during many years; we were taking off from fair ideas and a revolutionary conception. Perhaps the main error of idealism that was committed, was to think that in the world there was a determinate amount of justice and respect for the rights of peoples when, certainly, it didn’t exist at all. Nevertheless, the decision to fight wouldn’t depend on this.
The first task taking up our efforts was to prepare for the struggle that was coming up.
Experience acquired in the heroic battle against Batista’s tyranny showed that the enemy, no matter what his strength, could not defeat the Cuban people.
The country’s preparation for the struggle turned into the people’s main
effort, and it took us to episodes that were as decisive as the battle against
the mercenary invasion promoted by the
Unable to resign themselves to the independence and exercise of the
sovereign rights of
By some means, the
Hours prior to the invasion, after the cunning attack on our air force
bases by US planes painted with Cuban insignia, the socialist nature of our
Revolution was declared. The Cuban
people fought for socialism in that battle that passed into history as the
first victory against imperialism in the
We, the Cuban revolutionaries, have committed errors, and we shall go on making mistakes, but never shall we make the mistake of being traitors.
Never have we chosen illegality, lies, demogoguery, duping the people, pretence, hypocrisy, opportunism, bribery, the total lack of ethics, abuses of power, including crime and repugnant tortures which, with obvious albeit doubtlessly worthy exceptions, have characterized the conduct of the presidents of the United States.
At this moment, humankind is facing serious problems without precedent. The worst is that to a large degree the solutions shall depend upon the richest and most developed countries, the countries that shall reach a situation which they are really in no condition to face unless the world they have been trying to mould for their egoistic interests crumbles around them and which inevitably leads to disaster.
I am not speaking about wars, whose risks and consequences have been transmitted by wise and brilliant people, including many Americans.
I am referring to the food crisis originating in the economic facts and
the climatic changes that are apparently now irreversible as a consequence of
the actions of man, but which, at any rate, human minds are under the
obligation to face in a hurry. For
years, which was really time lost, the matter was being talked about. But the country which emits the greatest
amount of polluting gases in the world, the
The problems have suddenly taken shape now, through the phenomena that are being repeated on every continent: heat waves, forest fires, losses of harvests in Russia, with many victims; climate changes in China, excessive rainfalls or droughts, progressive losses of water reserves in the Himalayas threatening India, China, Pakistan and other countries; excessive rainfall in Australia that have flooded almost a million square kilometres; unusually harsh and unseasonable cold waves in Europe that have considerable impact on agriculture; droughts in Canada; unusual cold waves there and in the US; unprecedented rain in Colombia affecting millions of farming land; never-before seen rainfall in Venezuela; catastrophes caused by excessive rain in the great cities of Brazil and droughts in the South. There is practically no region in the world where such events have not taken place.
Productions of wheat, soya, corn, rice and other numerous grains and legumes that make up the food base of the world – whose population today according to calculations totals almost 6.9 billion inhabitants, now coming close to the new figure of 7billion, and where more than one billion are suffering from hunger and malnutrition – are being seriously affected by climate changes, creating a very serious problem in the world. When reserves have not been totally recovered or just partially in some items, a serious threat is now creating problems and destabilization in many States.
More than 80 countries, all of them in the
I shall limit myself to quote these statements and reports, in a summary fashion, which have been published in the last few days:
“The UN is warning about the risk of a new food crisis.
“January 11, 2011 (AFP)”
“‘We are facing a very tense situation’…” FAO corroborates.
“Some 80 countries are facing a shortage of food...”
“The global rate of prices for basic agricultural products (grains, meat, sugar, oleaginous and dairy products) is currently at its highest level since FAO began to use that index rate 20 years ago.”
“UNITED NATIONS, January (IPS),”
“The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), with headquarters in
“Basel (Switzerland), Janaury 10 (EFE).- The president of the Central European Bank (BCE), Jean Claude Trichet, spokesperson for the governors of the central banks of the Group of 10 (G-10), today cautioned about the strong rise in food prices and the inflationist threat in emerging economies.”
“The World Bank fears a crisis in the price of foods, January 15 (BBC)
“The president of
the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, told the BBC that the crisis would be deeper
than that of
“The annual rhythm
of inflation for foods has increased threefold in
“The climate change will aggravate the lack of foods, according to a study.”
“‘Since more than 20 years ago, scientists have been alerting about the
impact of climate change, but nothing is changing other than the increase in
emissions that cause global warning’, Liliana Hisas, executive director of the
“Osvaldo Canziani, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and scientific advisor for the report, indicated that ‘in the entire world meteorological episodes and extreme climatic conditions are being recorded, and increases in average surface temperatures are exacerbating the intensity of these episodes’.”
“(Reuters) January 18,
“The State grain agency of Algeria has bought around 1 million tons of wheat in the last two weeks to avoid shortages in the case of unrest, a Ministry of Agriculture source informed Reuters.
“(Reuters) January 18, Wheat shows a strong gain in
“The Economist, January 18, 2011
“World alert due to food prices”
“Among the main causes are the floods and droughts caused by climatic changes, the use of foods to manufacture bio-fuels and speculation in commodities prices.”
The problems are dramatically serious. However, all is not lost.
Current calculated wheat production reached almost 650 million tons.
That of corn surpasses that amount and nears 770 million tons.
Soy could come close to 260 million tons; of this the
The general data on grains and legumes available in 2011 are well-known.
The first matter to be resolved by the world community would be to
choose between foods and bio-fuels.
If the millions of tons of soy and corn being invested into bio-fuels are routed towards the production of foods, the unusual rise in prices would cease and the world`s scientists would be able to propose formulae that might in some way or other halt and even reverse the situation.
We have lost too much time. The time has come to do something now.
Fidel Castro Ruz
January 19, 2011
9 y 55 p.m.