"Nichts mehr davon, ich bitt euch. Zu essen gebt ihm, zu wohnen.
Habt ihr die Blöße bedeckt, gibt sich die Würde von selbst."
Friedrich Schiller
  May 2008 FOOD

British Empire's Slave System Produces Brazil's Biofuels

There's a reason why Brazilian cane-cutters refer to sugar as "satanic". They are slaves to the ethanol industry, which requires sugar cane as its raw material--no different from the slaves who toiled, and were exterminated, on the plantations set up by the Portuguese in colonial Brazil, under the watchful eye of their British protectors. It was, after all, British warships that escorted the Portuguese royal family as it fled from Lisbon to Brazil in 1810, to escape the war on the Iberian Peninsula that threatened to overthrow it.

Despite the Lula da Silva government's protestations that it is "modernizing" sugar cane production, little has changed. The cost of Brazil's sugar production is the lowest in the world, attracting hedge fund investors, speculators, and all manner of financial vultures--George Soros and Bill Gates and the big food cartels--all allies of the British cause. In March 2007 alone, the Ministry of Labor rescued 288 sugar workers from direct slavery in Sao Paulo alone. Then in June, Brazil's anti-slavery swat team freed 1,108 sugar cane workers held in "conditions analogous to slavery" on the Para plantation of the Pagrisa company, of Para Pastoril e Agricola, SA, one of the biggest ethanol producers in the northeastern state of Para. This was the largest number of workers to be freed from conditions of slavery in recent Brazilian history.

Close to 80% of Brazil's cane harvesting is done manually, and workers only get paid if they reach the output goal set by the bosses. Pay varies between $100 to $200 a month, and sometimes cutters don't get paid at all if the foreman doesn't feel like "calculating cane" that day.

In the Riberao Preto region of Sao Paulo, the goal is 12 tons a day, which is double the 1980 target, according to investigative reporter Raul Zibechi. Working as many as 14 hours a day, and often bringing in their children to help meet the production goal, cane cutters today have a life expectancy {less than that of colonial slaves!} sociologist Francisco de Oliveira reports. A majority of the workers are migrants, recruited from the impoverished North and Northeast, and from the moment they step on a bus to travel to their destination, they become debt slaves to middlemen who cover the cost of transportation, or to the "company store" from which they are forced to buy essentials. Al Gore would be proud.

Benefits are non-existant. Workers are forced to live in squalid quarters with no running water, kitchens or toilets. Health problems are rampant, but owners in Riberao Preto have now found a "technical solution" to squeeze more out of their cutters. Sugar mills now distribute a free electrolyte and vitamin supplement, normally used by athletes, which cutters drink before they go to work. It dulls the pain caused by seizures, cramps, spinal pain, etc., but in order for it to be effective in the long term, its dosage must be increased every month.