Monthly Archives: June 2011

Who’s afraid of Petrocaribe?

Catching up on old news here, after taking some time off. This long article in Haiti Liberte gives a pretty interesting account of the history of the US’s attempts to convince Haiti not to sign up for Petrocaribe, the Venezuelan oil-aid program that finances about half the price of crude oil and refined products at 2% interest.

Now, I can understand the political science problems with Petrocaribe for recipient countries. The payback scheme involves an off-budget infrastructure fund for the recipient country that in many countries is likely to be frought with corruption. And cheap oil may not be the best thing for anyone, as it subsidizes pollution and waste. But it is really something to see a rich, swimming-in-oil country like the USA doing everything it can to stop Petrocaribe for poor, oil-starved Haiti. Worth a read. Annoyingly, the original story doesn’t link to the Wikileaked cables it refers to, but I put them all in plain text below the jump. Honestly I haven’t read them all, just enough to get that the Haiti-Liberte article, while not 100% fair, seems to have the right general idea. I mean, what do you make of a cable that says, “Post will continue to pressure Preval against joining PetroCaribe.” Seems pretty clear.

Go read the Haiti Liberte story now.
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C&C Energia does right thing – but did Colombia?

When C&C Energia discovered that their oil exploration block contained ecological preserves, they gave it back to the government and got out of their commitments to drill the lots. This seems to me like exactly what an oil company should do. The market hasn’t been treating C&C very kindly ever since a May 30 press release. But the real issue here seems to be the government of Colombia. What were they thinking, auctioning off an oil exploration block when, in C&C’s words, “several National Ecological Reserves were identified within the block boundaries.”

Note that this site previously covered something vaguely similar. Now, I don’t know, maybe C&C isn’t giving us the whole story. But if they are — wouldn’t it save everyone time and heartache if countries did biological inventories and mapped their protected areas and endangered species before inviting in the oil drills?

Keeping up with the lazy writer

Hi readers, don’t mind me while I slack a bit here. Thanks for continuing to visit the site. To celebrate the recent lull, I should mention that there are three excellent ways to keep up to date on our ramblings without hitting “refresh” all day on your poor helpless browser.

Subscribe to my Twitter feed.

You can subscribe to the e-mail, over on the right side of the screen, and receive messages to alert you to each new post. These come very fast, and since I never post more than four messages a day, you never need to worry about getting swamped with e-mail.

RSS. I hear that the kids these days don’t know about this great technology. Use it! Sign up with Google Reader or any other RSS service, and then start collecting “feeds.” This site’s RSS feed is here.

Brazil’s illegal loggers kill and threaten with impunity (guest post)

Another guest post from Quasecarioca, our resident Brazil expert. This is one of those very big stories that gets underreported amidst the flurry of hype about how Brazil is the new Sweden, or whatever. It’s a real honor to have this here on this site. I realize that some readers come only for the latest Venezuela gossip. But please, stick around. This is important.

Nilcilene de Lima knew they were casing her a year ago when they set fire to her crops in the peasant settlement of Gedeão, in southern Amazonas state. Authorities had impounded chainsaws and a truck from illegal timber cutters nearby, and word was going around that she was the one who snitched (she insists she didn’t). Last week, just days after reports of conservationists being assassinated in the Amazon, they showed up at her door and told her she had three months to live. She went to the police to report the incident, but once she got there she found out her house had gone up in flames. Now she’s in hiding.

“The law only exists on paper for people living in southern Amazonas,” she says.

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