Brazil: Bush-Lula biofuel plans based on conditions worse than slavery
The recent proclamation of an “ethanol alliance” between US President George W. Bush and Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva has been hailed by apologists for both governments as an advance in the development of alternative sources of energy and a gain for both countries’ economies. In Brazil, this sector is expected to record export earnings of $7 billion this year, and both countries are mounting a drive to increase the production of Brazilian sugarcane.
Little noted in the fanfare surrounding the presidential visits—Bush’s to Sao Paulo on March 8 and Lula’s to Camp David three weeks later—is the terrible toll that the drive to increase productivity in Brazil’s sugarcane fields is taking on the country’s cane cutters.
A recent study by a State University of Sao Paulo (UNESP) professor, Maria Aparecida Moraes Silva, reveals that workers are being forced to harvest up to 15 tons a day. The immense physical effort required to meet such quotas is slashing the working lives of the 170,000 rural workers in the sugarcane-producing region of the state of Sao Paulo.......