Chavez gets biofuel backlash

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: A lot of people think biofuel is one way to lessen dependence on fossil fuels and impact global warming. Venezuela once had big plans for ethanol. Just last month the country announced plans to build 29 biofuel plants with Cuba. But now Venezuela has started to criticize ethanol. Why the sudden turnaround? From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Dan Grech reports.

DAN GRECH: The U.S. and Brazil recently formed a partnership on ethanol. The deal is modest, and it won't do much to reduce American dependence on oil.

But The Miami Herald's Phil Gunson says it was enough to threaten Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

PHIL GUNSON: He was severely irritated by the Bush initiative and has been stung into responding.

Chavez said recently the land should be used to feed people, not to fill "rich people's cars."

But Gunson says this is about political power, not ethics. Chavez's influence would be eroded by the widespread adoption of ethanol.

GUNSON: The Bush administration's clearly seen this as a way to drive a wedge between Hugo Chavez and some of his allies in the region, since Chavez's alliances are largely based on what you might call oil diplomacy.

Chavez will press his point at a South American energy summit later this month.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.


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