[Cmi-lapaz] Cuba's Sugarcane Ethanol Potential: Cuba, Raul Castro, and the Return of King Sugar to the Island & COHA In The News
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
coha en coha.org
Jue Oct 29 13:30:58 PDT 2009
Council on Hemispheric Affairs Research MemorandumCouncil on Hemispheric Affairs Research Memorandum
About COHA Contact COHA In the News Internships Cubaâ€™s Sugarcane Ethanol Potential: Cuba, Raul Castro, and the Return of King Sugar to the Island
As the result of a precipitous contraction in the Cuban economy, Cubans have recently experienced crippling energy cutbacks and other shortfalls that are reminiscent of the devastating hardships of the â€śSpecial Period,â€ť and industries have continued to falter due to the evaporation of credit and investment flows which largely dried up after the break-up of the Soviet empire. In the first half of 2009, the Obama Administration launched a series of modest initiatives aimed at normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, most recently exemplified by the loosening of restrictions on travel by Cuba-Americans, lifting controls on remittances, and giving the nod to U.S. telecommunication investments on the island. Though President Obama recently renewed the Trading With the Enemy Act, policy mitigations have prompted speculation that a greater volume of trade and investment is likely to be permitted in the future. These factors, coupled with the current 28-year high in sugar prices and the delicate health of Fidel Castro, lead to the question: would Cuba benefit from, and does it possess the technological and infrastructural means and political will to expand and modernize its sugar and sugarcane ethanol industries to take advantage of the unique developments now taking place around the globe? Based on the following assessment, despite the precipitous collapse of Cubaâ€™s sugar industry beginning in the early 1990s, the countryâ€™s economy would benefit from opening its markets to foreign investment and revitalizing its tattered sugar industry for the production of raw sugar, ethanol and electricity.
A Glorious Past and a Conflicted Present
Sugar has served as one of the most important formative influences on Cubaâ€™s socioeconomic development; as according to the Cuban adage, â€świthout sugar, there is no country.â€ť Ever since Columbus introduced sugarcane to Cuba on his second voyage, it has been referred to as â€śthe grass of Cuba,â€ť and the island has been one of the leading producers and exporters of sugar since the 1600s. Even the implementation of Cubaâ€™s railway system in the 1830â€™s was directly linked to sugarcane planting and cultivation. In the first half of the 20th century, while sugarcane agriculture was spurred by U.S. financial speculation and investment cycles, the industry was all but ruined by a drought of incoming funds brought on by the Great Depression. Later, it was devastated by the U.S.-Cuban embargo, which was in part targeted at undercutting Cubaâ€™s sugar industry. Sugar cultivation had been heavily fostered by Soviet patronage and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) trade bloc, producing an impressive zafra (sugarcane harvest) of 8.5 million tons in 1970. Throughout the 1980s, production was sustained at an annual average of 7.5 million tons with sugar accounting for three quarters of Cubaâ€™s foreign exchange earnings, until the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a devastating 35 percent contraction in the Cuban economy from 1991-1993.
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This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow Nicholas Elledge
COHA This Week In The News
-COHA Director Larry Birns appeared in several interviews these past weeks. He was interviewed on Wednesday, October 28th by the Jamaican Breakfast Club, where he spoke about U.S.-Cuba relations. On October 25th, he was interviewed by Arthur Brice from CNN International. He shared about the upcoming elections in Uruguay. On October 11th he spoke on KGO Radio San Francisco. He discussed the possible lifting of the Cuban embargo and current U.S.-Cuban relations.
-COHA Research Associate Jorge Aguilar appeared on the Spanish program "El Mundo al DĂa" from Voice of America on Tuesday, October 20th. He was interviewed by Gonzalo Abarca, and spoke about the current negotiations taking place in Honduras and the prospects of an end to the conflict.
COHA Article Appearances
The UN and the OAS: There is a choice to be made By COHA Research Associate Andres Esteban Ochoa:
- SantiagoTimes, Chile
South America and Its Likelihood of a Season of Splendid Little Wars: An Analysis of Arms Races and Regional Geopolitics By COHA Research Fellow Alex Sanchez:
- Petroleum World, Texas
Rehabilitating Mexicoâ€™s Drug War: Drug Challenges Rising in the U.S. and Mexico, By Christina Esquivel:
The School of the Americas: New Legislation Brings Limited Transparency, By COHA Research Associate Nicholas Maliska:
- CommonDreams.org, Maine, USA
- Scoop Independent World News, N.Z
- VHeadline.com, Venezuela
Santos of Semana Magazine Offers Words of Wisdom Coming from Colombia, by COHA Staff:
- Latin American Herald Tribune, Caracas, Venezuela
- El Nacional, Venezuela
Mexico: An oil nation in crisis, By COHA Research Associate Nancy Cruz:
- Petroleumworld.com, Arizona, U.S.
- Scoop Independent World News, N.Z
Note: On Friday, October 30th at 7:30AM EST, COHA Research Associate Nancy Cruz will speak on the Jamaican Breakfast Club Radio about the current situation in Mexico.
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This analysis was prepared by COHA Staff
Thursday, October 29, 2009 | Research Memorandum 09.2
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