Brazil's Lula Helps Bush Revive 'Plantation Economics'
<body><div id="article"><tr><td height="28" valign="middle" width="184"></td><td valign="middle" width="185"></td></tr><h1>Brazil's Lula Helps Bush Revive 'Plantation Economics'</h1><p>May 17 (EIRNS)--Brazil's ethanol is the cheapest in the world, and the Bush Administration has hired Brazil to promote its ethanol program as the economic salvation for poor countries from the Caribbean to Africa. That the Bush family and administration would promote a product based on slavery is no surprise, but what's wrong with Brazil's President Lula da Silva? (If you don't know what's wrong with ethanol,).</p><p>President Lula was confronted directly in his May 15 press conference on this scandal: What is the Brazilian government going to do to stop the "exploitation of slave labor" in the nation's sugar cane fields, as it expands ethanol production? Rede TV correspondent Marcos Roberto Silva asked. Will it propose legislation to regulate labor conditions? Lula acknowledged cane cutting conditions need to be "humanized," but said he preferred "discussions" between companies and workers, <em>not</em> regulation.</p><p>Throughout Brazil, cutters are usually migrants, poor and often indigenous, and include many children. They are brought to the sugar fields by contractors who control their lives. Workers in the North East report they are paid sometimes in vouchers; sometimes not at all, if the foreman doesn't feel like "calculating cane" that day. No benefits, no maternity leave, no vacation, no health care, no food. They are transported in cattle trucks, treated worse than animals, who are at least given water. No bathrooms or no running water is provided; often they don't have even wood for cooking, unless they go out and scavenge it for themselves. Protective equipment is not provided, and many people work barefoot, or at best in sneakers, swinging machetes in fields. In March 2007 alone, the Ministry of Labor rescued 288 sugar workers from direct slavery in Sao Paulo alone.</p><p>That does keep labor costs low, and multinational cartels and the filthy rich -- Bunge, ADM, Dreyfuss, George Soros and Bill "Videogame Killer" Gates-- are rushing to buy up Brazilian sugar mills, to get in on the ethanol export market.</p><p> </p></div></body>