A new era in South America has formally commenced in the form of the “Union of South American Nations” (UNASUR). Agreed April 17, 2007, at the First South American Energy Summit being held on the Island of Margarita, Eastern Venezuela, UNASUR is a manifestation of a renewed attempt at South American integration.
“The South American presidents did agree to name their diplomatic mechanism Union of South American Nations (Unasur). The organization’s Executive Secretariat will be based in Quito, President Chávez said. He added that proposals would be disclosed later to designate the Permanent Secretary of Unasur -which is replacing the South American Community of Nations (CSN). This project is aimed at integrating the South American countries … This is what we decided by consensus today (Monday). We also addressed other issues such as the Bank of the South, and agreed to enter into a sort of energy accord guaranteeing energy supplies for 100 years. These meetings have been quite important,” the Venezuelan ruler added.”
But there are already some complex, political problems…..
“Brazilian sources reported that Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva would not give up advocating biofuels, even though his stance prevents the summit from issuing a consensus final declaration … Before departing for Venezuela on Monday, Lula claimed it was perfectly feasible to produce food and biofuels simultaneously, thus dismissing Venezuelan and Cuban attacks against ethanol production.”
This however, does not mean that Lula and Brasil are hugging trees in the Amazon – they want to have their cake and eat it too. Brasil, who will get a lot of the Ecuadorian oil, also wants bio-fuel produced in their own territory. If Brasil starts to produce a lot of bio-fuel, which they probably easily can, just need to fell the forest, then, some say, the power balance in South America tips in their favour – and away from Venezuela, which relies in its influence as the sugar-daddies on their oil economy.
It has been noted that Bush’s visit to Latin America was instrumental in the design of Brasil’s bio-fuel project – that it is an attempt to undermine Chavez’ influence and power, spawning a strong reaction from Fidel Castro: More Than Three Billion People in the World Condemned to Premature Death from Hunger and Thirst.
With regards to bio-fuel, The Guardian ran an article recently titled “Palm oil: the biofuel of the future driving an ecological disaster now” outlining some sad numbers:
“Until now palm oil – of which 83% is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia – was produced for food. But the European Union’s aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, partly by demanding that 10% of vehicles be fuelled by biofuels, will see a fresh surge in palm oil demand that could doom the rainforests.
That is likely to kill off the “flagship species” of wildlife such as the Asian elephant, the Sumatran tiger and the orang-utan of Borneo which are already under enormous pressure from habitat loss. Plantation owners regard the orang-utan as pests because it eats the young palm oil plants and hunt them down ruthlessly.
“In reality it’s over for the tiger, the elephant and the orang-utan,” said Mr Smits, who founded the Borneo Orang-utan Survival Foundation. “Their entire lowland forest habitat is essentially gone already. We find orang-utan burned, or their heads cut off. Hunters are paid 150,000 rupiah [£8.30] for the right hand of an orang-utan to prove they’ve killed them.”"
From the ashes in the fire?
Plague or cholera? Well, have your pick!