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Posted on on February 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

cumbre ALBA con Chavez

Hugo Chávez, anfitrión de la cumbre del Alba en Caracas.

Los presidentes de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez; de Cuba, Raúl Castro; de Bolivia, Evo Morales; de Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; de Haití, Michel Martelly; el primer ministro de Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit; de San Vicente y las Granadinas, Ralph Gonsalves; el premier de Antigua y Barbuda, Winston Baldwin Spencer; y el canciller de Argentina, Héctor Timerman, acordaron celebrar dos reuniones al año, de carácter ordinario.

La Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas, creada hace 7 años por Cuba y Venezuela para fomentar la integración en la región bajo los principios de solidaridad, comercio justo, respeto estricto a la soberanía y complementariedad económica.

Los países que integran el ALBA son: Cuba, Venezuela, Dominica, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Antigua y Barbuda, y San Vicente y las Granadinas.


América Latina: Cumbre del Alba entre la economía y Las Malvinas.


Caracas, 5 enero 2012

Las claves

  • El Consejo Económico de la Alternativa propuso la creación de fondos de reservas del Banco del Alba, al tiempo que el presidente Chávez, aprobó la incorporación del 1% de las reservas internacionales de Venezuela (300 millones de dólares), a la entidad financiera del bloque
  • El presidente de Bolivia, Evo Morales, propuso este domingo la creación de un Consejo de Defensa de los países miembros de la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (Alba).
  • ALBA estudia sancionar a R.Unido y no asistir a Cumbre de las Américas si no asiste Cuba.


Integración desnuda

“Y aquí estamos entrando en la segunda década del milenio, sin visión estratégica de la integración, perdidos entre siglas que a nadie dicen nada ALBA, Unasur o CELAC por solo nombrar algunas. Mientras tanto, los países del continente disfrutan de una relativa bonanza económica, producto del aislamiento y la exportación de materias primas que finalizará en cuanto se cierre el ciclo económico”. (Tal Cual. Venezuela)


La Alianza Bolivariana  (Alba)  dedicó la jornada a las políticas económicas conjuntas y la posición de apoyo a Argentina, por el caso de las Islas Malvinas, y a Cuba, para presionar su presencia en la próxima Cumbre de las Américas, a la cual no ha sido invitada aún.  El Alba propuso la creación de fondos de reservas del Banco del Alba, al tiempo que el presidenteChávez, aprobó la incorporación del 1% de las reservas internacionales de Venezuela (300 millones de dólares), a la entidad financiera del bloque

Los gobernantes del ALBA acordaron en Caracas la creación de un “espacio económico” y de un fondo de reservas de su banco regional. También se comprometieron a redoblar su apoyo a Haití y a estudiar sanciones contra Londres por el conflicto por las Islas Malvinas que mantiene con Argentina.

Los presidentes de los países del ALBA debatirán esta jornada la entrada de nuevos miembros, con el fin de consolidar sus objetivos integracionistas. Haití, nación que desde 2007 participa en este mecanismo como observador, figura entre las solicitudes de ingreso pleno, interés que fue ratificado por su mandatario,Michel Martelly, para acceder a todos los beneficios que el bloque subregional ofrece.

El canciller de Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez, detalló que para los próximos 2 y 3 de marzo se celebrará una Cumbre extraordinaria del ALBA en Haití, a fin de revisar el trabajo planificado en esta cita.

Los jefes de Estado también analizaron la posible incorporación de Suriname y Santa Lucía. De igual manera, debatirán los documentos de trabajo que se desprendieron de las reuniones realizadas por partidos políticos y medios de comunicación de los países que integran la Alianza.

La Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas, creada hace 7 años por Cuba y Venezuela para fomentar la integración en la región bajo los principios de solidaridad, comercio justo, respeto estricto a la soberanía y complementariedad económica.

Los países que integran el ALBA son: Cuba, Venezuela, Dominica, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Antigua y Barbuda, y San Vicente y las Granadinas.


Posted on on January 18th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

UK Press Release: Wednesday 18 January 2012

UK Press Release: Wednesday 18 January 2012

Foreign Secretary William Hague Press Conference in Brazil

Foreign Secretary William Hague has given a press conference this afternoon with his counterpart Antonio Patriota in Brasilia. The full text of his opening remarks is below:

“It is a great pleasure to be here in Brazil at what I think is an optimistic and exciting time in the relations between our countries; and a dramatic period in world affairs. We have had extremely good talks. Of course we are used to speaking together regularly, but it has been very good to have the opportunity to spend some hours talking.

From nuclear proliferation to climate change, global economic governance to security issues, Brazil is a partner of growing and lasting importance to the United Kingdom.

I am here to send a strong signal of British commitment to our relationship with Brazil as well as of warm friendship towards your country and its people;

To pay tribute, as I will do in a speech tomorrow, to your remarkable achievements as a nation, and to explore the many opportunities for closer economic and social ties between our peoples;

And to discuss the pressing range of crises, challenges and opportunities in foreign policy where the Brazil’s distinctive voice and contribution matter greatly.

We know that Brazil’s role in world affairs is set to grow, alongside other emerging economies including others here in Latin America.

We strongly welcome this, and I was pleased to express again Britain’s support for an expanded and more representative UN Security Council including permanent membership for Brazil.

We wish to forge a closer understanding between us on foreign policy as fellow democracies with so many shared values. This will lead we hope to greater practical cooperation across all the issues that matter to both our countries; respecting the fact that we approach some matters from a different perspective, but we should always be able to discuss them in a spirit of friendship and respect as we have today.

So Foreign Minister Patriota and I have had comprehensive, searching and productive discussions across a range of these subjects. I am very grateful to him for his time and his hospitality today.

We discussed the moment of opportunity in the Middle East, where we are seeing the greatest hope for the advancement of human freedom since the end of the Cold War, but also many problems and difficulties.

Both our countries are working bilaterally and through international organisations to support those countries in transition in the region such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, where we are in strong agreement about the importance of long term international support while respecting the wishes of the people of those countries.

We agreed that events in the region make progress towards a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more urgent than I ever, and I welcome the talks taking place in Jordan.

We share deep concern about the situation in Syria and welcome the essential role being played by the Arab League.

We spoke about Iran, where of course our countries agree that the consequences of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East would be highly dangerous. We are engaged in intensifying peaceful, legitimate pressure on Iran while being ready at any time to return to serious, meaningful negotiations.

And we discussed the importance of peace and security in the South Atlantic, to which Britain remains committed.

In Britain we are convinced that the best days in our relationship with your country lie ahead of us.

Our back-to-back hosting of the Olympics; our innovative and important cooperation in the fields of sustainable development and the environment – an important subject to address at the Rio 20+ meeting – ; the 10,000 Brazilian students who will study in the UK over the next four years under our ‘Science without borders agreement’; our extensive commercial ties and increasing trade that are benefiting all our citizens; and above all our shared democratic values, give me and our government every hope and confidence in even better times ahead for the relationship with Brazil.

That is why I am here, and that is why we are increasing our diplomatic presence in Brazil, and we have recently opened a new consulate in Recife.

So in that spirit I thank Antonio Patriota, your Foreign Minister, and I look forward to continuing to work with him, and indeed to welcoming him in London whenever he is able to visit.”


At the UN, the UK Mission highlighted the above speech as follows:

Foreign Secretary: The days of Britain’s retreat from Latin America are over

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has given a speech on UK foreign policy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Selected extracts that may be of most interest to UN correspondents are highlighted in italics below:

“The days of our diplomatic retreat from your region are over. We have begun Britain’s most ambitious effort to strengthen ties with Latin America in 200 years, since the days of Canning.”

“The world has changed profoundly since the end of the Cold War. International relations are no longer dominated by a handful of powerful states that can dictate terms for the rest, and never will be again. That era is over.”

“We are in a new phase in the concert of nations, in which states that have not traditionally dominated or sought dominance have an equal role to play in world affairs.”

“This is change that Britain does not fear, but that we welcome and embrace.”

“In this new global environment our British government is looking further afield for opportunities for our citizens and new ways of working in foreign policy – not replacing our role in Europe and indispensable alliance with the United States, but running alongside them and indeed reinforcing them. Our aim is that the United Kingdom should be at the centre of the networks of the 21st century, including in Latin America.”

“We welcome a stronger role in world affairs for Latin American countries, although where we have our own views over issues such as the Falkland Islands we will always be frank about them. We will always uphold UK sovereignty and the rights of the Islanders to self-determination, while valuing the ability to discuss these issues with Brazil in a framework that respects international law and human rights.”

“We also strongly believe that the institutions of global governance must become more representative, which is why we support reform of the United Nations Security Council including a permanent seat for Brazil.”

“We see it as very much in both our countries’ interests that we develop a strong and equal working relationship in foreign policy; one that reflects today’s world and our many shared values as fellow democracies.”

“We need to develop a better understanding of how to act together when our stable environment is threatened, and how we translate our democratic values into action.”

“As we see it, in Libya limited military force was used to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack and to implement a no-fly zone, only after Colonel Qadhafi had refused to end the violence and when called for by all the countries of the region through the Arab League. It was action that was necessary, legal and right. It was carried on the legal basis of a UN Security Council mandate; it involved working directly with Libya’s neighbours, and it was done without NATO forces on the ground. These conditions – a legal mandate, regional participation and limited objectives – enabled us to be successful. They were consciously based on the lessons learnt not only from Iraq but also from Bosnia, where inaction led to the worst violence in Europe since the Second World War.”

“Military action is always a last resort and can never be without risk. Each country is different and each case must be judged on its merits. But when human life is threatened and peaceful avenues fail, we argue that we must be prepared to intervene in the way best suited to the circumstances and to be able to do so quickly and decisively. “

“So while we do not always draw the same conclusions about the best way to act when human rights at threatened at decisive moments, we have a strong common interest in building a better understanding for the future. Your President recently put forward the concept of ‘responsibility while protecting’ alongside the UN concept of the Responsibility to Protect. We welcome this contribution to the international debate and as I said to Foreign Minister Patriota yesterday, we look forward to discussing it and to finding common ground between our different perspectives.”

“In Syria, we are confronted with an appalling threat to human life and regional stability. Protests by people seeking to claim their human rights and choose democracy and freedom have been met with tanks, snipers, torture and over 5,000 deaths. The deterioration of the system risks not only further casualties but a civil war in the most combustible conflict zone in the world.  It is regrettable that the UN Security Council has been unable to speak out and we urge it to do so now. We welcome the leadership shown by the Arab League and it is vital that efforts are redoubled to support their mission and to achieve a political transition in Syria.”

“2012 could also be a year of crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme. Like Brazil, our objective is to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, which could start an arms race in the region and call into question the very survival of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. Britain is seeking a negotiated solution with Iran and is not advocating confrontation. The best chance of averting either a nuclear armed Iran or the potentially devastating consequences of military action is to intensify the legitimate, peaceful pressure on Iran to return to negotiations.”


In the US business relations with Brazil seem to move on more conventional and Conservative rails.

a special breakfast on:

Brazil: Economic and Political Outlook

Thursday, January 19, 2012

8:00 – 8:30 AM    Registration, Breakfast and Networking
8:30 – 10:00 AM    Panel discussion, Question & Answer

pc dpllp_k350.jpg
919 Third Avenue (at 55th Street)
35th Floor
New York City

Paulo Vieira da Cunha,
Partner and Head of Research – Emerging Markets, Tandem Global Partners

Murillo de Aragão, Founder, Arko Advice

Monica Baumgarten de BolleEconomist, Galanto Consultoria

Mauro Léos, VP Senior Credit Officer- Latin America, Sovereign Risk Unit, Moody’s Investors Service

Eduardo Loyo, Managing Partner and Chief Economist, BTG Pactual


Posted on on November 19th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Race for the White House: A Call for a Regionally-based Enlightened Foreign Policy toward Latin America.

November 18, 2011

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow and Fulbright Scholar Robert Works.

Council on Hemispheric Affairs…

COHA is based at the Americas Society on Park Avenue, New York City and provides information to business interests in the US – Latin America and Canada region.
As such there is no surprise that as an organization they favor Republicans over Democrats – but are critical of Republicans as well when they do not do enough to promote US  business interests in the region.

This article seems to favor Governor Romney from among the names tossed around in the 2012 race for the US Presidency.


With a little under a year remaining until the next U.S. presidential election, a coherent and sustainable area policy toward Latin America remains absent from the campaign literature and both presidential parties’ electoral strategies. In fact, a true U.S.-Latin American foreign policy—one that involves succinct initiatives rather than populist rants or ideological outbursts—has yet to be developed in the 21st century. If one is left to assess the future of U.S.-Latin American foreign policy simply by relying on the last three years of the Obama administration, or the empty rhetoric from the entire Republican field, the future appears rather bleak. Nonetheless, one candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has detailed a slightly weightier, yet basically ill-informed vision that promotes regional integration and the strengthening of economic ties. His plan is almost entirely dominated by commercial interests and remains in large part focused on securitization. Barely moving beyond a fallow bilateral approach harnessed during the post-World War II years, Romney’s Latin American policy does manage to squeeze out some relatively non-bombastic verbiage.

For his part, President Obama has yet to outline a detailed vision on Latin American issues for his reelection, but the short blurb on the White House policy page indicates a usefully backseat nature that Latin America has held for the current administration. In a few words, U.S. foreign policy toward the region is described by the Democrats as being committed to “a new era of partnership with countries throughout the hemisphere, working on key shared challenges of economic growth and equality, energy and climate futures, and regional and citizen security.” The Obama administration can point to the recent passage of the free trade agreements, negotiated during the Bush administration, to complement this short, rhetorical ‘vision,’ but other than that, the administration’s foreign policy toward Latin America has been frail, if not exiguous.

In defense of President Obama, the Bush Doctrine ignored Latin America as well, but far-right figures in the region were relatively successful in attracting U.S. resources as well as favorable treatment by constructing their foreign policies beneath the umbrella of a specious war on terrorism. While  Colombia (through Plan Colombia) and to a lesser degree Mexico (through the Merida Initiative) successively gained U.S. attention and resources, the newly achieved backing only sought to strengthen the overall security capacity of these anti-drug forces in return for supporting the U.S. global securitization policy. A definitive conclusion regarding the success of this policy has not yet been reached, but the need for a regional vision that would promote strong ties to the U.S. and create regional integration has always been in process.

Thus far, there has been only one plan worthy of a conceptualization being offered to the region that even considers such an approach to Latin American policymaking. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is generally considered intermittently to be Republican frontrunner, and who is running close with President Obama in national polls, has recently laid out a 43-page document detailing his vision for U.S. foreign policy. In a formidable feat for Republican regional policymakers, he actually presents (if nothing more) to address a vision for Latin America, promoting regional integration, over the current bilateral approach directed primarily toward Washington’s allies in the War on Terrorism.

Romney, advised by a committee professedly oriented toward Latin America and headed by a series of pro forma old hands with tired notions, as well as some academics and respectable diplomats, details the creation of a regional institution called the Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America (CEOLA), in order to promote “a vigorous public diplomacy and trade promotion effort in the region.” If this program’s goals remain the same, its specific details will remain vague and uninspiring; that said, the mere offer of such a new template contrasts sharply with the approaches currently being proposed by other candidates and the Obama administration, which has hardly done better in offering much and delivering little. In any case, Romney unsurprisingly presents a heavily business-tilted regional approach to integration that claims to promote a more democratic and economically responsive Latin America. His plan appears to follow the neo-liberal model based on institutionalism, which asserts that U.S. interests are better served through multilateralism and regionalism rather than through bilateralism.

If CEOLA seeks to achieve the creation of a new regional forum integrating South America with Central and North America, a bona fide U.S.-Latin American relationship could be developed in the process. The Romney formula provides a meager platform to discuss a wide array of issues from securitization to economic policy, as well as a methodology that could allow states to develop their own regional approaches for improving records on human rights, alleviating poverty, and other issues plaguing Latin America. The region, once consolidated and integrated, could also pursue a universal approach toward justice, utilizing transnational courts that adhere to cultural and legal traditions while also addressing the shortcomings of fledgling criminal justice systems that characterize the region. If it is unsuccessful however, such a system could add to the region’s woes brought on by endemic corruption.

Obviously, the ultimate success of Romney’s regional policy would rely on a variety of factors, including the level of activism on the part of the U.S. in the development of hemispheric initiatives. Washington must only be involved in the initial creation of big policy and have no greater power than carrying out a formal advisory role. CEOLA would symbolically represent a comprehensive, if not a bold approach for a new path forward in the 21st century, but not an interventionist one. At this point the Romney plan is sufficiently multifaceted to provide him with significant wiggle room, if this is what is really sought. This is not to argue that the post-9/11 policies of securitization are not in need of being replaced by a more developed, regional vision for Latin America. Only the development of a new institution would provide the possibility for new directions with specific goals that are widely accepted.

To his supporters, Romney is the only candidate that has offered a regional vision for Latin America, albeit one at risk of being more of pap and treacle than of sounder stuff. Ironically, it may be more suitable for regimes that are not likely to easily tolerate U.S. intervention of any sort, and have an increasing demand for Latin American sovereignty, to pick and choose their own policies.  President Obama should embrace such a move in order to establish a more integrated, equal, and just Western hemisphere.  Until a new plan that moves beyond securitization is realized, Latin America will remain in the backwaters of policymaking and under the canopy of an overreaching U.S. foreign policy.

In any case, the time for a renewed U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America is not only long overdue, but is also being demanded by the region here and now. Mitt Romney has at least presented a starting point for a 21st century foreign policy that will likely go nowhere.  As wobbly as it is, the other candidates, including the president, could do far more, but will at least have a modest road to build upon with this model.


Posted on on September 21st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

to open the UN General Assembly. “It is with personal humility, but with my justified pride as a woman, that I meet this historic moment,” said Rousseff as she opened the general debate. “I share this feeling with over half of the human beings on this planet who, like myself, were born women and who, with tenacity, are occupying the place they deserve in the world. I am certain that this will be the century of women.”   —-    Rousseff can also be found on the cover of this week’s Newsweek, with a profile by Mac Margolis.


l aunched the Open Government Partnership (OGP) while in New York on Tuesday. The OGP’s goal is to give citizens tools to monitor   elected leaders and achieve more transparent governance. Mexico is one of the additional six founding members and other Latin American countries that have pledged to sign on to the partnership are: Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Uruguay.
This is a smart program for U.S. policy in the hemisphere and a great leadership role for Brazil to play,” reports Bloggings by Boz, who links to commitments and plans from Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.


Colombia, a member of the Security Council, is very important in this because an attempt is being made to negate to the Palestinians a simple majority in the SEcurity Council in order to avoid a US veto.
This attempt revolves around three Member States and Colombia is one of them.  Rather then attending President Obama’s speech to the General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu  was at that time in a meeting with the President of Colombia promoting such a move.


drilling for oil in the Florida Straits between the Florida Keys and Cuba as early as mid-December. It is estimated Cuba may hold anywhere from 5 billion to 20 billion barrels of oil in offshore reserves.

In a piece for CNN’s Global Public Square program and blog, Fareed Zakaria warns: “Our trade embargo on Cuba not only prevents us from doing business with our neighbor but it also bars us from sending equipment and expertise to help even in a crisis. So, if there is an explosion, we will watch while the waters of the Gulf Coast get polluted.”

We watched that program on Sunday, September 18th and it is crystal clear that the US has now to end the embargo on Cuba. We know that election season in the US has just started – but it seems that moves by President Obama on this issue would be right in place and would improve relations within the Western Hemisphere where all countries now side with Cuba.


Posted on on October 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Climate Action has been produced in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) from its launch in 2007, to encourage businesses and organisations – both large and small – to reduce their carbon footprint, highlighting that environmentally responsible operations can also be profitable.

Produced to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) held in December of each year, the launch edition was distributed in Bali in 2007, the second edition in Poznan in 2008, and the third edition of Climate Action was released at COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 7-18 2009. Now there will be the Fourth edition for Cancun.

“This publication sets out a number of actions that organizations and governments can take… backed up by clear examples of how reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved.”
Ban Ki-moon , UN Secretary General

By going to the following website you get all published four books – since the 2007 launch – including the just-in-time 2010 book.


As we have already said earlier  at – we believe that the future of Climate Change is in the hands of Global Business, we are not cynic about these cocktail events, but we know that without clear Washington and Beijing signals really very little will be achieved in practice – so the World after the November 2, 2010 US elections may be under sand-clouds even more then it was until now.
So, in practice, these cocktails might be the only justification for holding the Cancun party – and we recommend – please go to the Cocktail event – if you happen to be in Cancun.


Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme said of Climate Action at its launch;

“I am pleased to confirm that the United Nations Environment Programme is working in partnership with Sustainable Development International to produce Climate Action.

This book and accompanying website will encourage and assist governments and business to lower greenhouse gas emissions, while also informing them how they can adapt to the impacts of climate change. With articles and features by authoritative authors from governments, intergovernmental organisations, civil society and the private sector, the book will include practical ‘Actions’ – steps that companies and governments can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

Climate Action will promote stakeholder dialogue between government and industry, and highlight the sharing of best practice, and new technologies and initiatives. It will also raise awareness of the latest market trends, threats and opportunities in response to climate change.

Distributed widely to governments, think-tanks, environmental organisations, businesses, fund managers and business associations, Climate Action will be particularly valuable in highlighting the widespread benefits to society which will derive from reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I encourage you to support this most timely and important initiative.”

The groups of Business participants that will circle UNEP at Cancun are:



Climate Action is proud to be supported by select organisations concerned with the successful mitigation of climate change.

Supporting partners are:

Bright Green

Bright Green

Bright Green showcases the business response to the climate challenge – not only as traditional trade fair but also as a live statement from the world’s most innovative and climate-friendly enterprises.



Ceres is a US-based network of investors, environmental organisations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors to address environmental and social challenges such as global climate change.



dcarbon8 provides carbon management consultancy for businesses, services, products and even cities, including carbon offsetting and carbon project development.

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the voice of world business, championing international trade as a force for economic growth, peace and prosperity.

Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)

Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)

The Investor Network on Climate Risk is a network of institutional investors and financial institutions that promotes better understanding of the financial risks and investment opportunities posed by climate change.

Planet Positive

Planet Positive

Planet Positive’s vision is for a world where every individual and business takes responsibility for their own carbon and where we are working together towards one common aim: to protect the Earth’s fragile ecosystems.

Sustainable Asset Management (SAM)

Sustainable Asset Management (SAM)

Sustainable Asset Management (SAM) was founded in 1995 as the world’s first asset management company for sustainability investments.

The Climate Group

The Climate Group

The Climate Group’s goal is to help  government and business set the world economy on the path to a low-carbon, prosperous future.

United Nations Global Compact

United Nations Global Compact

The Global Compact is the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative offering a framework for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

WBCSD is a CEO-led, global association of some 200 companies dealing exclusively with business and sustainable development.



Posted on on September 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Nick Hodge  talks of resurgence of nuclear power.
Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Part of  the “Energy and Capital” Weekend Edition.

He writes – I can’t start this Weekend Edition without mentioning one of the hottest investment videos of the year…

It’s about a 75-cent company making big waves in the nuclear industry — importing Korean reactors, selling nuclear desalination units, and more.

As it happens, nuclear is actually a very relevant topic this week, illustrating the fierce dichotomy of the current energy market.


In South America, Argentina was once a pioneer in the nuclear industry, opening the first plant there in 1974. But the country’s ambitious plans stalled — as did most — after the Chernobyl disaster.

Now, with a new generation of reactors ready for deployment worldwide, Argentina is once again turning to nuclear…

The country just finished a long-stalled third plant and will build two more by 2025, when it aims to get 15% of its power from nuclear.

Argentina will also resume domestic uranium mining and start a program to enrich it, making it only one of five countries that has access to soup-to-nuts nuclear energy production. So keep an eye out for plays from that area.


Even in Germany — home to the world’s largest solar market and third-largest wind market — nuclear is making a comeback.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition has agreed to extend the operating life of the country’s 17 nuclear plants by an average of 12 years.

It was good new for utilities, since they won’t have to spend capital to build new capacity. And the three largest in Germany — E.ON (XETRA: EOAN), RWE (XETRA: RWEA), and EnBW (XETRA: EBK) — were each up sharply on the news.

Opponents of the plan say it will take away from the country’s expansion of renewable energy…

But in a time of fiscal uncertainty, decisions boil down to cost. And right now, nuclear is still cheaper in Germany.

For a variety of analyst opinions on the matter, check out this report from Reuters.


Also in Europe, Lithuania has invited bids to build a nuclear plant to reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports. The contract is estimated at around $6 billion, and will be open to bidding from five shortlisted companies.


And the last nuclear news this week comes to us from Kuwait — a country I’ve already covered this week.  OPEC’s fifth-biggest producer, it’s announced plans to build four nuclear reactors by 2022.

This should be viewed as another step Middle Eastern countries are taking to protect their dwindling oil reserves.

Saudi Arabia has already announced nuclear plans, and the UAE bought 4 of the very same reactors discussed in this video from the Koreans for $20 billion.


Posted on on September 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The week before Labor Day we were traveling along the coast of Upper New England along the stretch from Lynn and Marblehead North of Boston in Massachusetts, through Cape Ann, Plum Island, the shores of New Hampshire and up to Kennebunkport in Maine. That was the route that Hurricane Earl was expected to take – but Earl the Good did us no harm.
I intend to write about stops on that trip, and the rather good conditions in the States we visited, but this posting deals instead with global issues – what I found going over the papers upon return to New York.


What surprised me was the fact that though mentioned as details in the papers, the underlying reality that struck me seemed to be an issue with  a common link that no paper mentioned – something we feel is the start of the demise of the WTO construct – that colossus of World Trade Organization that is being hailed as the epitome of global international structure that everyone was supposed to strive to get in through its doors – an achievement that was going to reward States for good behavior. But first what struck me was The Financial Times note that gave away the reality –  seemingly Russia has decided that it just makes no sense to them to allow the outside world to dictate to them rules of behavior.

Russia has suffered because of the climate change effects from severe drought and decreased yield of wheat – so Russia simply closed its doors to those that want to buy its wheat as Mr. Putin does not want riots because of shortages of buckwheat. He knows that we will call this interference with free trade, but he decided that the chaff of free trade is rubbish if it causes foreseeable difficulties yo his leadership.

But that was just the beginning. Russia also closed the door to imports of cars by way of tariffs – a clear no-no with WTO. And why did they do that? Simple enough – they want investments in Russia for manufacturing cars inside Russia and eventually they will get their way.

China is even more important – it clearly does what it wants with impunity and the WTO label is plainly superfluous. Yes or no – Hugo Boss – the German fashion house has announced that it will open 100 stores in China to add to the 450 stores it owns globally now, and the further 150 stores it will open by 2015 outside China. This is a neat increase and clear vote of confidence in the growing Chinese middle class.

The US talks tough to China in public but sent high level delegations to China to reach all sorts of agreements so it will not be outplayed in business terms by others. Lawrence Summers, the Director of the National Economic Council and Thomas Donilon the Deputy National Security Adviser came to Beijing to fashion “new pacts” – a nice combination of the tough and the economic. We will clearly not know exactly what they talked about, but we assume that it finally doomed on Washington that wage increases in China so the Middle Class becomes faster a buying class – is more of a win-win situation then pushing the Chinese to increase the exchange rate in order to become less competitive with their exports. In the end, we trust that the Chinese, like the Russians, will do what is best for them according to their own internal calculations. WTO is not part of these calculations and it will be the US that will have to adjust when talking to the Chinese bankers – China having become the lender that allows the US to live above its means while still keeping some control over the money-printing presses. To top this – Bill Gates and Warren Buffet also went to China – this seemingly to suggest to the Chinese tycoons to recycle some of their gains as philanthropies and this then becomes a second route on the same road to help the earning power of the lower classes in China.

Similarly, India has restricted its exports of cotton and other raw materials, provided incentives for inflow of investments and watched its stockmarkets out perform those of the other fast developing markets.

Proof to this booming – non WTO related Asian growth – Julius Baer, the Swiss private bank, has moved to double its Asian assets to 20-25% of its total in the next 5 years as it recruits new staff and opens more offices in the region. The bank has identified Asia as its second “home market” after Europe. They will have offices in Hong Konk, Shanghai, and Singapore – the latter with a new office space for 700 people.

And if all of the above is not enough – here comes Brazil – the champion of them all that used to fight the US at WTO on ethanol fuel issues and agricultural produce. Now they do not bother with this way of time waste. They have it too good to need it.

Petrobras, the Brazilian energy champion is making a global offering of shares in the $32 Billion range with investment plans of $224 Billion. The Wall Street Journal’s BUZZ mentions even Share Sales of $65 Billion! – The above is the highest issue of shares ever – period. This week I participated at two events of the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, one of them a Day of Independence reception, and the other an evaluation of the capital markets and Brazilian tax laws for US investments in Brazil – and both events were gang-ho.

Further, a trio of Brazilian billionaires, the folks that took the Brahma beer company and built InBev that eventually bought Anheuser-Busch to become a global beverage Brazilian-run power house – they just announced that they are buying the Burger King US corporation to get a taste of the US fast-food business. And what does this mean to Brazilian beef imports to the US?
In any case – later this year, Brazilian-born Bernardo Hees, a railroad executive, will go from managing shippments of grain to bringing burgers to new markets around the world as the new CEO of Burger King Holdings Inc. once 3G Capital Management Inc. completes the $3.3 Billion leveraged buyout of the chain.

Let us see – with the WTO Brazil achieved nothing because the US cattlemen were able to hide behind sanitary issues, and I understand that only specialty meets like corn beef were allowed into the US. Not like the ethanol case where doors were closed with tariffs. You go to a Brazilian Churrascaria, or an Argentinian place in New York, and you get Australian grass-fed beef because the Latin variety is not allowed. What will the new Burger King owners say to this? Watch out – we predict some interesting protracted new actions and eventual political give and take!

OK, so will there be any loss if the WTO is allowed to disintegrate? After all – it was established as a tool by the industrialized countries to control commerce with the commodity countries – to the detriment of the latter and the net result that it interfered with the industrialization process as well as with the development of indigenous agriculture to feed the developing country.

What kind of “Free Trade” was it anyway – when banana producers were not free to export to the banana consumers they would have loved to reach?

Now, with such powerhouses like China, Brazil, India, and still reluctance to allow for their full participation in the system of preferences in mutual trade, more of these countries will return to write their own laws, and those that did not become members of the club will simply lose interest in it.

I think this was the real Earl I felt following last week.


Posted on on September 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

We had posted the following on September 6, 2010 and the UPDATE is a result of our having listened to the September 10 presentation. Besides this update we expect to follow up further as we see high potential in the ideas presented here.


venue: 8:00am (presentation begins at 8:30am) at Dickstein Shapiro, LP, 1633 Broadway, 32nd floor, btwn 50th & 51st streets

date; Friday, September 10, 2010 New York City.

An exciting company that is generating revenues today, and has a prototype fuel cell car that can operate with our current refueling infrastructure.

The Metha Energy Solution’s fuel cell car, which was unveiled at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit,  will be able to fill up your tank with methanol at your local service station and get the kind of driving performance you have today—in driving range, acceleration, average speed and “refill time”—but with 70% fewer CO2 emissions.

Metha Energy Solutions Inc. (soon to become Metha Serenergy Inc.) is a publicly-listed US company, stock symbol: MGYS.OB. Its fuel cell technology is currently generating revenues in the backup power and remote power generation markets.

Metha Energy’s fuel cell technology improves over hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles because they don’t carry heavy batteries and  refill with fuel rapidly. Also, they avoid the on-board hydrogen storage problem that plagued earlier hydrogen vehicles by integrating the reformer into the fuel cell modules.

All this is based on a breakthrough for the future energy-supply chain.  These are high-temperature proton-exchange membrane air-cooled fuel cells, which deliver energy efficiency up to 50%, a figure more than double that of a traditional combustion engine. Metha Serenergy has already received initial orders from European vehicle and US non-vehicle customers. And their fuel cells have been proven to operate for more than 5,000 hours according to the vehicle industry standards.

Metha Serenergy Inc.’s current revenues come from the sale of its fuel cells to the military for transportable light for air strips and telecom backup. Immediate target markets include IT back-up, data centers, servers, cell phone antenna backup, remote monitoring, traffic control signaling and off-road transportation.

Metha Serenergy is currently raising US $ 2 million.

Register by sending an email to You need JavaScript enabled to view it with your contact information.  Please bring payment of $50 to the program.

Call-ins are available. Specify call-in in your email to Donna and send her a check or request a credit card form for the $25 fee.

Gelvin Stevenson, Ph.D.
Program Director

Center for Economic and Environmental Partnership, Inc.
212-222-4369, 917-599-6089


David J. P. Meachin, a Director of Metha Energy Solutions Inc. (MGYS – OTC), a US company deploying Danish technology focused on commercializing innovative fuel cell technology for the transportation and off-grid markets. He is Vice Chairman of the University of Cape Town Fund in New York and a Director and past Chairman of the British American Educational Foundation. He is an Advisory Board Member of Structured Credit International Corp. (SCIC) and an Advisory Board Member of the South African Chamber of Commerce America (SACCA). Prior to his founding Cross Border Enterprises in 1991, he was Managing Director, Investment Banking Division, Merrill Lynch & Company in New York. He is based in New York and is in the process of birthing the Metha Serenergy Inc. that will be marketing the Danish product – the Metha patented Fuel Cells that can be used in stationary situations as well as a source for mobile energy needs – such as motor vehicles.

Jasper Toft of Denmark, CEO and founder of Metha Energy Solutions Inc., made the power-point presentation at the breakfast.

Fuel cells operate best on pure hydrogen. But fuels like natural gas, methanol, or even gasoline can be reformed to produce the hydrogen required for fuel cells. Some fuel cells even can be fueled directly with methanol, without using a reformer.

Considering that all that talk of using directly hydrogen as energy fuel has really not led to much as practical results, the idea of using a known liquid fuel in conjunction with a stack of fuel cells instead is very attractive. From all the hydrogen containing liquids – methanol is the most attractive. We know many ways to produce methanol – some of the feed-stocks for methanol are cellulosics and the needed energy can come from wind or solar. In effect the production of methanol can be the way to store excess renewable energy obtained at times of lowest demand for electricity. Methanol produced this way has no fossil CO2 liabilities – it sounds like the ideal 21st century fuel. Furthermore, ethanol – the carbohydrates turned to fuel via fermentation – has the inherent problem as being tackled for using edibles as feedstock. The search for ways of breaking down cellulosics like agricultural wastes and wood chips to fermentable sugars has not yielded yet an industry – again – using these materials to make methanol instead would seem a natural outcome.

In the future, hydrogen could also join electricity as an important energy carrier. An energy carrier moves and delivers energy in a usable form to consumers. Renewable energy sources, like the sun and wind, can’t produce energy all the time. But they could, for example, produce electric energy and methanol, which can be stored until it’s needed. This also can avoid the talk of storing the energy as hydrogen.

As said – this is just an appetizer or a post talk UPDATE and we expect to get further information that we will share on As of now – let me say that hearing the presentation – we suggested to the hosts that the SER they intend to use in their name should stand for:

SIMPLICITY of their technical product,

EFFICIENCY as they claim a three times higher efficiency then the internal combustion engine,

and RELIABILITY – this because of the potential of using various liquid fuels – the aspect that already caught the eye of the US D.O.D. that already 25 years ago, well ahead of US D.O.E., has looked into alternative fuels – ethanol, methanol and CNG as fuels to the military internal combustion engines. Moving to fuel cells as means to use electric engines requires a change of structure, but opens the way to a variety of inputs. In effect, captive fleets such as in the military or taxi and bus industries are natural first clients for these new mechanisms.


Posted on on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

China Wants Business with Latin America.
By Mitch Moxley

BEIJING, Aug 18, 2010 (IPS) – China, now the world’s second largest economy with a ferocious appetite for resources, is aggressively strengthening relations with Latin American countries, but this has not been without roadblocks.

According to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), released in May, China will displace the European Union as the region’s second largest trading partner by the middle of 2011. Latin American countries are actively exploring cooperative arrangements with China in the fields of mining, energy, agriculture, infrastructure and science and technology, the report said.

China has in recent years diversified its investment in Latin America, from natural resources to manufacturing and the services industry, according to a July report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies. China’s interest in Latin America ranges from oil from Venezuela to timber from Guyana and soybeans from Brazil.

Zhang Sengen, executive director of the Institute of Chinese International Economic Relations, said Latin America has dual appeal for China: It has abundant resources, which are needed to fuel China’s future growth, and it is a huge market for Chinese products – with 560 million consumers and a combined Gross Domestic Product of 4 trillion U.S. dollars.

“Latin America is a very attractive spot for Chinese investment,” Zhang said.

China’s foreign direct investment in Latin America reached 24.8 billion dollars in 2008, making up 14.6 percent of China’s total foreign direct investment, according to figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Meanwhile, Latin American investment in China hit 112.6 billion dollars, roughly 14 percent of the total foreign capital China absorbed.

Exports from Latin American countries to China are expected to reach 19.3 percent of the total by 2020, up from 7.6 percent in 2009, according to the ECLAC report.

China has prided itself on what it calls a “win-win” relationship with Latin America, in which the region sells China raw materials, such as copper, iron and oil, while Latin American countries receive goods from China, including mobile phones and cars.

But relations have not been altogether smooth. Across the region, a growing wariness about trade with China has also been emerging.

In Brazil and Argentina, manufacturers have accused China of dumping products in their markets, prompting new tariffs on some Chinese importers. Other countries worry about China’s aggressive efforts to win access to energy reserves.

In Peru, a state-owned Chinese company has faced a nearly two-decade long revolt from mine workers, featuring repeated strikes, clashes with police and arson attacks, ‘The New York Times’ reported earlier in August. Disputes at the mine, founded in 1992 by steelmaker Shougang Corp, focus on wages, environmental damage and the company’s treatment of local residents.

Wang Peng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Latin American Studies, said Chinese companies in Latin America need to do proper risk assessment and better protect the local environment. “There are more NGOs in other countries than in China, and many of them focus on environmental protection,” Wang told IPS. “If our companies violate local environmental laws, no wonder tension happens.”

Despite the problems, relations continue to develop. In April, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Brazil, a move that was heralded in China’s state media as a significant step in cementing relations with Latin America.

“China and Latin American countries, all as developing countries, share extensive common interest. China has always attached great importance to its relations with these countries,” Vice Foreign Minister Li Jinzhang said at a press conference in April, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

During the meetings, Brazil and China inked a joint action plan for 2010 to 2014 and reached agreements in the fields of culture, energy, finance, science and technology and product quality inspection, according to Xinhua.

China is Brazil’s largest trading partner and biggest export market. Trade with Chile, China’s second largest trading partner in the region, reached a record 17.7 billion dollars in 2009.

Oil-rich Venezuela is China’s fifth largest trading partner in Latin America with a trade volume of 7.15 billion dollars in 2009. In March that year, Su Zhenxing, director of the CAAS’s Institute of Latin American Studies, told ‘Beijing Business Today’ that Latin America will become a leading strategic provider of crude oil.

Jiang Shixue, vice president of the Chinese Association of Latin American Studies and deputy director-general of the Chinese Centre for the Third World Studies, said China’s interest in Latin America is not just economic, but also political.

Of the 23 countries in the world that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, 12 are in Latin America. China can gain leverage over these countries through investment incentives, Jiang said.


Posted on on August 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

New data shows Brazil is now the world’s fourth largest consumer of automobiles, reports AméricaEconomia. Brazil trails only China, the United States, and Japan in cars bought. Along with growing demand, Brazil expects greater investment in the industry. Volkswagen has announced plans to invest $3.4 million in 2014, Ford $2.5 million between 2011 and 2015, and General Motors $1.6 million between 2010 and 2012. Brazil’s Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento (BNDES) also announced $17 million to construct new plants for Toyota and Hyundai in São Paulo.


Hotels Help Brazil’s Boom

Financial Times’ Beyond BRICs blog reports that, despite a modest drop in hotel occupancy at Brazilian hotels, guests are spending more money and generating greater revenue for the industry. “I don’t know if this is international or in Latin America in general,” said Ricardo Mader, executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. “But it has everything to do with the growth of the [Brazilian] economy and the growth of buying power.” In 2009, guests at Brazilian hotels spent an average of $63 for a room, up 7.7 percent from the previous year.


Brazilian and Chilean Airlines Merge into Biggest LatAm Carrier

LAN Chile and Brazil’s TAM Linhas Aereas agreed on a $3.7 billion merger to become Latin America’s biggest carrier by market value, with a combined 115 destinations in 23 countries. The new company, called LATAM Airlines Group SA, will be headed by former LAN CEO Enrique Cueto.


Posted on on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Be’chol Lashon is the Hebrew for “In Every Tongue” and it advocates for the Growth & Diversity of the Jewish People. Today Jews come indeed in every color and every stripes and some leaders do the outreach to embrace them all. Just look at Dr. Lewis Gordon of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Mr. Romiel Daniel of Queens, New York, The head of Jews of India in our region, Dr. Ephraim Isaac, of the institute for Semitic Studies. They do not look like your stereotype Jew. I met them and was impressed – the latter actually for the first time as we both visited Addis Ababa at the time of the delayed Ethiopian Millennium. Then Rabbi Hailu Paris with his communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx, Ethiopian born and graduae of Yeshiva University, and his Assistant Monica Wiggan (, and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda from whom I got a very distinctive kippah with the menorah – of the old temple worked in. Then Dr. Rabson Wuriga of the Hamisi Lemba clan in South Africa and Zimbabwe and so on – in Nigeria, in Peru, in India, in China.

And who has not heard by now of the present White House Rabbi – Cappers Funnye – the cousin of Michelle Obama – and associate director of Bechol Lashon and spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B’nei Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation of Chicago?

The New York regional director of is Lacey Schwartz who is also National Outreach Director of, assisted by Collier Meyerson and to top it all Davi Cheng, Director of the Los Angeles region is Jewish, Chinese, and Lesbian. As I said it is all a new image of the Jew.

Last night, at the Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard St., NYC there was a Shemspeed Summer Music Festival event.

The two further upcoming events in New York will be on:

Monday, August 2nd – the Shemspeed Hip Hop Fest at Le Poisson Rouge – 158 Bleeker Street NYC Featuring Tes Uno, Ted King & guest Geng Grizlee and others with CD Release parties for “A Tribe Called Tes” and “Move On.”

Thursday, August 5th – Shemspeed Jewish Punk Fest at Pianos, 158 Ludlow Street, NYC Featuring Moshiach Oil & The Groggers.

info on each event above and at


Mona Eltahawy
A Jewish Woman Living in Ethiopia

Rethinking How U.S. Jews Fund Communities Around the World.

The Forward
Published: May 27, 2010

For more than half a century, North America’s Jewish federation system has divided its overseas allocations between the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Joint Distribution Committee. The Jewish Agency has been dedicated to building up Israel and encouraging aliyah, while the Joint has focused on aiding Jewish communities in need around the globe.

Today, both agencies are working to assert their continued relevance in a changing Jewish world. With aliyah slowing, the Jewish Agency is moving toward embracing a new agenda: promoting the concept of Jewish peoplehood. The JDC, meanwhile, has sought to claim a larger share of the communal pie, which had long been split 75%-25% in the Jewish Agency’s favor.

After a recent round of sniping over the funding issue, the two sides are now stepping back from their public confrontation and recommitting to negotiations over the future of the collective funding arrangement. Underlying this fight, however, is a more fundamental tension over communal funding priorities: Should overseas aid be focused on helping needy Jews and assisting communities that have few resources of their own, or should it be used to bolster Jewish identity?

With this debate raging, the Forward asked a diverse group of Jewish thinkers and communal activists from around the world to weigh in and address the following question: How should North America’s Jewish community be thinking about its priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad?

New Century, New Priorities

By Yossi Beilin

During the 20th century, the challenges facing world Jewry were the following: rescue of Jews who encountered existential danger, assistance to Israel, helping with the absorption of those who immigrated to new countries and opening the gates for those who were denied the right to emigrate. In the 21st century, ensuring Jewish continuity is the greatest challenge facing the Jewish people.

Yet too often Jewish organizations in the United States and elsewhere remain focused on the challenges of the previous century. (Indeed, Jewish groups were not very receptive when I first proposed the idea for Birthright Israel 17 years ago.)

Ensuring the existence of Jewish life (religious and secular) throughout the world via Jewish education, encounters between young Israeli and Diaspora Jews, creating a virtual Jewish community using new technologies — these must be at the top of the global Jewish agenda. This requires American Jewish philanthropy and leadership, which in turn requires discerning between past and present priorities.

Yossi Beilin, a former justice minister of Israel, is president of the international consulting firm Beilink.

Reviving Polish Jewry

By Konstanty Gebert

The rebirth of Central European Jewish communities after 1989, though numerically not very impressive, remains significant for moral and historical reasons. It is also crucial for Jewish self-understanding. An enormous proportion of American Jews can trace their origins to what used to be Poland alone. This is where much of Diaspora history happened.

Alongside the courage and determination of local Jews, the far-sighted support of several American Jewish organizations and philanthropies made this rebirth possible. In Poland the Joint Distribution Committee, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and the Taube Foundation played key roles. Their support has translated not only into Jewish schools and festivals in places once believed to be Jewish-ly dead, but also in most cases into changed relations between local Jewish communities and their fellow citizens as well as clear support for Israel on the part of these countries’ governments.

Yet for all this progress, Central European Jewish communities might never become self-financing. The support given them by American Jewry remains a vital Jewish interest. It must be strengthened.

Konstanty Gebert, a former underground journalist, is a columnist at the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza and founder of the Polish-language Jewish monthly Midrasz.

What We Give Ourselves

By Lisa Leff

More than any Jewish community in history, postwar American Jews have used our prosperity to help Jewish communities around the world. On one level, the greatest beneficiaries of this support have been Jews abroad. But we should also recognize that these philanthropic efforts have shaped our communal values and identity.

Through our international aid, we have dedicated ourselves to universalist and cosmopolitan ideas like tikkun olam and solidarity across borders. In helping disadvantaged and oppressed Jews abroad, we have also deepened our community’s commitments to democracy, human rights and economic justice for all. It’s only natural that Jewish groups pitch in on Haitian earthquake relief and advocate on behalf of oppressed people of all backgrounds.

Whatever the outcome of the federations’ deliberations over how to divide allocations between the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, it is imperative that American Jewry maintain its commitment to our values through supporting international philanthropy.

Lisa Leff is an associate professor of history at American University and the author of “Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century France” (Stanford University Press, 2006).

Putting Identity First

By Jonathan S. Tobin

The choices we face are not between good causes and bad or even indifferent ones but between vital Jewish obligations. But since the decline in giving to Jewish causes means that we must make tough decisions, programs that reinforce Jewish identity and support Zionism both in the Diaspora and in Israel must be accorded a higher priority.

At this point in our history, with assimilation thinning the ranks of Diaspora Jewry and with continuity problems arising even in Israel, the need to instill a sense of membership in the Jewish people is an imperative that cannot be pushed aside. Under the current circumstances, absent an effort that will make Jewish and Zionist education the keynote of our communal life, the notion that Jewish philanthropies or support for Israel can be adequately sustained in the future is simply a fantasy.

Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of Commentary magazine.

Collective Responsibility

By Richard Wexler

One cannot have a meaningful discussion about framing the national Jewish community’s priorities and purposes in funding Jewish needs abroad without first asking the question: Is there actually a collective “North American Jewish community” today?

Collective responsibility has been and remains the foundation upon which the federation system and, therefore, the national Jewish community are built. It is what distinguishes the federations from all other charities. It is embodied in our participation in the adventure of building Israel and in meeting overseas needs through the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, in the dues that federations pay to the Jewish Federations of North America and so much more. But today, federations “bowl alone.”

Collective responsibility gives meaning to kol Yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh — all Jews are responsible for one another. Until federations understand once again that Jewish needs extend beyond the borders of any one community, we cannot have a meaningful priority-setting process for funding Jewish needs abroad.

Richard Wexler is a former chairman of the United Israel Appeal.

Originally published here:


Avi Rosenblum
Rabbi Gershom Sizomu and Be’chol Lashon director Diane Tobin at the opening of the Health Center.

Gary Tobin’s Legacy Lives on in New Ugandan Health Center

By Amanda Pazornik

The J Weekly
Published: July 22, 2010

On the day of the grand opening of the Tobin Health Center in Mbale, Uganda, health professionals were already hard at work treating patients inside.

The center was open for business, but that didn’t slow down the lively June 18 celebration, which featured song and dance performances and speakers. About 3,000 people gathered at the center’s grounds to mark the occasion.

Seated under colorful tents was Diane Tobin, director of S.F.-based Be’chol Lashon and wife of the late Gary Tobin, for whom the center is named, along with three of their children, Aryeh, Mia and Jonah.

“Everyone was amazing, friendly and so generous of spirit,” said Tobin, who was visiting Uganda and its Abayudaya Jewish community for the first time. “They were so appreciative of having the center and demonstrated a tremendous willingness to work together. It’s a great model for the rest of the world.”

Andrew Esensten, Be’chol Lashon program coordinator, and Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, spiritual leader of the Abayudaya Jews and the first chief rabbi of Uganda, joined them, in addition to government and medical officials, and representatives from Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities.

The Tobin Health Center is named for Gary Tobin, the founder of the S.F.-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research, of which Be’chol Lashon (“In Every Tongue”) is an initiative. Tobin died one year ago after a long battle with cancer. He was 59.

“He really has left a legacy,” said Debra Weinberg of Baltimore, who attended the opening with her husband, Joe, and their 14-year-old son, Ben. The couple also helped fund the project. “I think he would feel deeply comforted to know it’s improving the lives of people.”

The 4,000-square-foot facility is a major component of the ongoing Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project undertaken by the Abayudaya Executive Council and Be’chol Lashon, a nonprofit that reaches out to Jews of color and helps educate the mainstream community about Jewish diversity.

It cost approximately $250,000 to erect the two-story center, using donations collected over five years. While patients pay for their services, continuous fundraising is a necessity, Tobin said.

Construction began in July 2009, enabling more than 50 Africans from diverse ethnic backgrounds to earn a living.

Stars of David are featured in the window grids, ceilings and floors of the health center, a “lovely expression of their Judaism,” Tobin said. Private rooms make up most of the top floor, with patient wards on the ground floor. A mezuzah is affixed to every door.

A large portrait of Gary Tobin hangs in the lobby.

“It’s so heartwarming,” Diane Tobin said of the visual tribute. “Gary would be so honored to have this health center in the middle of Africa named after him.”

Prior to the opening of the Tobin Health Center, the nearest medical facility to the Abayudaya Jews was Mbale Hospital, an overcrowded and understaffed institution not accessible to all the residents of the region. Tobin said there are other clinics in the area, but they lack the preventive health care measures necessary to respond to the community’s needs.

The Tobin Health Center is licensed by the Ministry of Health and is certified to operate a pharmacy and laboratory. It serves all who seek basic medical care in the region, providing life-saving health services and simultaneously creating jobs.

“The goal is to raise the standard of medical care,” Tobin said.

In addition, rental units on the bottom and top floors of the center will provide more job opportunities for locals. The first business recently opened — a hardware store that sells bags of cement, plumbing equipment and sheet metal — with a beauty salon and video rental outlet in the works.

The center “is rewarding on a number of levels,” said Steven Edwards of Laguna Beach, who, along with his wife, Jill, has been involved with the Abayudaya for six years. “The most obvious is to see this beautiful, clean building. On top of that, local dignitaries noted how lucky Mbale is to have the Jewish community and how much they contribute to the larger community by bringing jobs.”

The Abayudaya Jews comprise a growing, 100-year-old community of more than 1,000 Jews living among 10,000 Christians and Muslims. They live in scattered villages in the rolling, green hills of eastern Uganda. The largest Abayudaya village, Nabagoye, is near Mbale, the seventh-largest city in Uganda and the location of the center.

Research conducted by Be’chol Lashon in 2006 showed that contaminated water and malaria-carrying mosquitoes pose the biggest health risks to the community. A year later, the organization launched the Abayudaya Community Health and Development Project with the drilling of the first well in Nabagoye.

Since then, nearly 1,000 mosquito nets have been purchased and distributed throughout the community.

“Our goal is to respond to the needs of communities,” Tobin said. “If there are other communities that need health centers, we will be there.”

Originally published here:


Posted on on July 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Maradona out as coach as Argentina’s soccer coach.

AP – Argentina’s national soccer team coach Diego Armando Maradona listens to a question from the press prior … Also Brazil’s soccer team gets new coach Reuters.

By DEBORA REY, Associated Press Writer – Tue Jul 27, 2010.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Diego Maradona was given the boot as Argentina’s soccer coach before he could resign.
His stint as coach of the Albiceleste ended far less successfully than his time as a player with the national team. The Argentine Football Association, which hired the former star in November 2008, said Tuesday that his contract will not be renewed. The decision came 3 1/2 weeks after his team, led by star Lionel Messi, was eliminated from the World Cup with a humiliating 4-0 loss to Germany in the quarterfinals.

“Diego shut himself off to any change,” executive committee member Luis Segura said on Argentine television. “Diego has all the right to do what he wants. But so does AFA.”

The federation had offered Maradona a four-year contract through the 2014 World Cup, but Maradona said he would do so only if his entire staff remained. That was unacceptable to AFA president Julio Grondona. He had asked for several assistants to be replaced, including Maradona’s close friend Alejandro Mancuso. The federation said its executive committee unanimously decided to not keep Mardona.

AFA spokesman Ernesto Cherquis Bialo called the decision “very painful” but said there was no way to solve the impasse.
“The president said that there was a significant difference between what AFA wanted to achieve and Maradona’s aspirations for the future,” Cherquis Bialo said. “There was a wide gap, and it was impossible to narrow it.” The spokesman hinted, however, there might be a role in the future for a man with an unpredictable history.

“This marks the end of a first chapter with Mr. Maradona,” Cherquis Bialo said. “The doors to this house, as always, will be open to him.”

Youth team manager Sergio Batista was appointed interim coach for the Aug. 11 exhibition at Ireland, which will be followed by a Sept. 7 home exhibition against world champion Spain. Possible permanent successors include two club coaches in Argentina: Alejandro Sabella of Estudiantes and Miguel Russo of Racing.

Asked about the full-time coach, Cherquis Bialo said: “The people who were in the meeting have no name in their imaginations. It has just been announced that the contract with the coach will not be renewed. And so, a new stage begins.”

The 49-year-old Maradona became Argentina’s coach in November 2008, replacing Alfio Basile and taking over a team he led to the 1986 World Cup title and the 1990 final.

He had little coaching experience, and his team absorbed two of the worst losses in the country’s history: a 6-1 rout at Bolivia in World Cup qualifying and the World Cup defeat to Germany.

Argentina attacked with flair in South Africa, with Messi setting up scoring strikes by Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez.

Maradona, dressed on the sideline in a gray suit, was an enthusiastic cheerleader, but that could not compensate for his team’s tactical deficiencies. The loss to Germany exposed frailties on defense and lack of midfield speed.

Messi, widely regarded as the game’s best player, left with World Cup without scoring a goal. Maradona never explained why Messi — he was left to roam the field on his own — wasn’t scoring. “Nobody ever told me where to play. So I shouldn’t have to tell Messi where to play, either,” Maradona said.

Maradona, who has fought cocaine and alcohol addiction, grew up in a Buenos Aires slum, and his escape from poverty has endeared him to many. But he has worn out his welcome in other quarters.

Maradona ruffled the government of President Cristina Fernandez, who twice invited the coach to meet with her. But cabinet chief Anibal Fernandez said Maradona failed to respond or answer the phone, forcing the president’s secretaries to leave messages.

Fernandez had been openly supportive of keeping Maradona as coach, and one legislator has proposed building a monument to honor him. Two weeks ago, the federation offered Maradona the chance to extend his contract. But Maradona put off meeting with Grondona to travel to Venezuela at the invitation of a friend — President Hugo Chavez.

Maradona’s relationship with key individuals in Argentine soccer also was tense. He barred federation leaders and businessmen with commercial ties to the organization from practices in South Africa while allowing reporters to enter.

Still, Maradona had many supporters. “I want Maradona to stay,” Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said Tuesday in an interview on radio La Red. “We will support his decision. If he leaves we will miss him.”

Added team trainer Fernando Signorini: “I have no doubt they didn’t want him. Maradona is like a stone in the shoe of power.”


Posted on on July 14th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


MEA Bulletin – Guest Article No. 96 – Thursday, 15 July 2010
A Proposal to Change the Political Strategy of Developing Countries in Climate Negotiations
By Romina Picolotti (translated from Spanish)*
Full Article
If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.
Peter Ustinov

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Developing countries are definitely looking for different results in global climate negotiations. We want industrialized countries to comply with their obligations to reduce emissions. We want the effective transfer of technology. We want industrialized countries to provide the necessary financing to mitigate and adapt to climate change. And, we want the system we construct to address climate change to be fair and equitable, including the financial mechanism, and not like the present system utilizing the Global Environment Facility (GEF) where donor countries dominate the decision-making process.

We have already invested 16 years in climate negotiations under the UNFCCC process since its entry into force in 1994. The last meeting of negotiators this June in Bonn showed some progress, or at least a bit more realism in defining possible achievements for the next key meeting to be held in Cancun later this year, but negotiators clearly have not overcome their incapacity to offer pragmatic solutions to what has become the most important global problem humanity has ever faced.

Meanwhile, the science of climate change continues to solidify and tell us in no uncertain terms that inaction or late action means unavoidable and likely irreversible problems later. Of course, as always, the world’s most socially and economically vulnerable will also be the primary targets of the most catastrophic impacts of the planet’s changing climate.

In this scenario, developing countries call over and over again for their legitimate claims over the deteriorating climate to be heard, but fail to obtain the necessary responses for these claims in the post-Kyoto rounds of negotiations. What should we do?

At the last meeting of the Montreal Protocol signatories, a representative of the Federated States of Micronesia employed a metaphor that can help us find a way. He likened our climate desperation to a hypothetical neighborhood fire.

It’s as if our house is about to be consumed by flames from a raging fire, and the city’s firemen show up at the door, with no truck, no water, no equipment and begin arguing about which technique would be most suitable to put out the encroaching flames. All of a sudden a group of experienced volunteer firefighters decked out with fire equipment, a water truck, and ready to put out the fire show up behind the others. As a homeowner in desperation over advancing flames, what do you do? The answer is a no-brainer, you ask the guys with the solution to put out the fire!

The metaphor alludes to the Montreal Protocol (MP), hailed as the most successful environmental treaty to date. From 1990 to 2010, MP’s control measures on production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) will have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 135 gigatons of CO2.This is equivalent to 11 gigatons a year, four to five times the reductions targeted in the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Yes, this is amazing!

The Federated States of Micronesia used the metaphor of the house on fire to illustrate the opportunity before us to fully utilize the strength of the MP to combat the Planetary fire that climate change is becoming. Specifically, he referred to the opportunity to regulate the production and consumption of HFCs, which would produce the equivalent CO2 mitigation of more than 100 gigatons.

This proposal, without a doubt, implies a great opportunity for developing countries, not only in terms of the substantive issues involved, but it also fundamentally highlights the political implications underlying the process. If we are looking for different results from climate negotiations, we mustn’t always do the same thing.

Utilizing the maximum potential offered under the MP to mitigate climate change, regulating the production and consumption of HFCs would require that industrialized countries and developing countries both assume “mitigation” obligations. Mitigation obligations in the context of the MP do not mean specific CO2 reduction targets. What it means is that developed and developing countries assume the obligation to regulate the production and consumption of HFCs, which are super greenhouse gases, and by doing so we mitigate global warming. Therefore, to assume this “mitigation” obligation under the MP context should not terrify us. This is precisely the value of utilizing the MP. Our largest challenge as developing countries is not to assume or not assume mitigation obligations, but rather it is to assume them in a context that is fair, and not to assume them in the current context of the UNFCCC. From the perspective of a developing country, assuming mitigation obligations without financing, without the transfer of technology, and without decision-making power is simply suicide.

It would be however, politically wise to assume these obligations in the context of the MP and set a crucial precedent. The MP has demonstrated over its 23-year history that the technology is effectively transferred, and that industrialized countries have complied with their obligations, including financing what is needed so that developing countries can comply with their own obligations to control ODS after a suitable grace period. We, developing countries, have a full voice and equal vote on the decision-making process under the MP financing mechanism known as the Multilateral Fund. Finally, the MP has also demonstrated that it is capable of creating the necessary confidence amongst States to take bold and continuous steps forward in compliance with all of the established deadlines.

Moreover, developing countries have in many cases complied with obligations to reduce production and consumption of ODS before the established deadlines. Everything we are calling for under the UNFCCC process we have already achieved under the MP framework. Advancing with the inclusion of HFCs under the jurisdiction of the MP would substantially strengthen developing countries in a proactive forum as countries that actively contribute to solutions in a fair agreement, and not as countries that can only claim and denounce. Developing countries can demonstrate that with the right institutional structure we are ready to do the job.

The political strategy hence, is to take advantage of the opportunity that is offered by the Federated States of Micronesia’s proposal to advance on pro-climate actions available under the MP, and utilize the MP framework to negotiate from a different vantage point in the UNFCCC process. This “other vantage point” shows what developing countries are able to achieve when industrialized countries comply with their obligations, when transfer of technology takes place, when the decision-making process includes developing country voices in a fair and equitable way, and when financing is made available.

The latest report on the UN Millennium Development Goals recognizes that “the unparalleled success of the Montreal Protocol shows that action on climate change is within our grasp”.

Hopefully, we will wisely take advantage of this invaluable political opportunity that the Federated States of Micronesia and the Montreal Protocol are offering, and we will not succumb to Peter Ustinov’s foreshadowing of the tragic earth-ending expert voice suggesting a solution is beyond our reach.

*Romina Picolotti, formerly the Secretary of Environment of Argentina, heads the Center for Human Rights and Environment. She received EPA’s Climate Protection Award in 2008 for her leadership in securing historic commitment to accelerate the phase-out of HCFCs under the Montreal Protocol.


Posted on on July 14th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

July 14, 2010

CANDOMBE JAZZ PROJECT – Afro Uruguayan Music
Teatro IATI | Performing Arts Marathon – Thursday, July 15, 8 PM

Teatro IATI presents a very unique concert with the very best of South American music, the CANDOMBE JAZZ PROJECT (Afro Uruguayan Music)
The CANDOMBE JAZZ PROJECT (CJP) is a New York City-based ensemble playing Candombe, the Afro Uruguayan music tradition. CJP presents an exciting concert of original compositions by Sabrina Lastman, arrangement of oral tradition songs & music by renown Uruguayan songwriters. The CJP is comprised of Sabrina Lastman (voice/songs), Beledo (guitar/keyboard/electric bass), master of candombe Arturo Prendez (candombe drum/percussions), and special guest: Agrupación Lubola Macú.

Candombe is a drum-based musical style of Uruguay that developed in the Rio de la Plata area – Buenos Aires & particularly in Montevideo – among the black slaves brought by the Spanish colony in the 18th Century. It is based on Bantu African drumming & other influences the African community received from the new environment they lived in. In Uruguayan culture this drum-based musical style is highly significant & extremely popular, going strong on the streets, halls & carnivals all over the country. Candombe is a three-part-drums-ensemble formed by the tambores called: chico, repique & piano. The music composed on the basis of this rhythm encompasses a range of styles like funk, jazz, rock & tango, among others.

Sabrina Lastman (voice/songs)
Beledo (guitar/keyboard/electric bass)
Arturo Prendez (candombe drum/percussions)
Special Guest: Agrupación Lubola Macú (tambores)

Sabrina Lastman is a New York based vocalist, performer, composer and educator born in Montevideo, Uruguay. Drawing from jazz, Latin American music, and contemporary music, often integrating extended vocal techniques, Sabrina concentrates her work on jazz projects -Sabrina Lastman Quartet,  Candombe Jazz Project, Tango Jazz Duo- and the creation of interdisciplinary new music performances relating voice/sound/movement/visuals -Dialogues of Silence, On Becoming-. Sabrina has performed at Carnegie Hall, Classical Guitar Association of New York, Blues Alley Jazz, Blue Note, Museo del Barrio, Juilliard, New York University, CUNY and Queens Theatre, among others. She has played with Fernando Otero, Bakithi Kumalo, Tali Roth, Pablo Aslan, Emilio Solla, Gustavo Casenave, Pedro Giraudo, David Silliman, The M6, and Leonardo Suarez-Paz, among others. Her album The Folds of the Soul was nominated by the Graffiti Prize 2008 as one of the best jazz albums of the year.  Sabrina has toured in Israel, Uruguay, Argentina, and the United States playing in many musical and interdisciplinary projects from Tango to New Music. She graduated from The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel.

“Beledo is considered a real myth among Uruguayan music connoisseurs,” according to EL PAIS – Uruguay.  Piano was Beledo’s first instrument, however, he became a guitar hero  in his late teenage years captivating audiences in Uruguay and Argentina..  Later on,  his fusion effort of the early eighties in South America was noticed in the U.S. in articles for the upcoming talents  in GUITAR PLAYER magazine and JAZZIZ magazine.
“Beledo is the epitome of excellent musical individuality and a profound  example of the universality of jazz’s presence and influence in  every corner of our planet”. – Stix Hooper

Arturo Prendez is a percussionist born in Montevideo, Uruguay into a family with deep musical roots. His inspirations came from his father, a well known drummer and percussionist in Uruguay, developing his love for the unique African rooted drumming style of Candombe at a very young age. He has performed and recorded with numerous international artists such as, Hugo Fattoruso, Oscar Feldman, Hiram Bullock, Yabor, Chico Nobarro, Ruben Blades, Ruben Rada, Tahna Running, Bakithi Kumalo, Guadalupe Reventos, Afro-dysia and Beledo, among others. Arturo is a Master Candombe drummer, and he is the Artistic Director of “Agrupación Lubola Macu”, a tambores ensemble playing Candombe.

CANDOMBE JAZZ PROJECT – Afro Uruguayan Music
Thursday, July 15 | 8 PM
Teatro IATI | 64 East 4th Street, bet. Bowery & 2nd Ave.
Subways: F to 2nd Ave, 6 to Astor Pl, R & W to 8th St. Bus: M15 to 2nd Ave. and 4th St
General Admission: $20 / Seniors & Students: $18
Buy Tickets in advanced: / ALL MAJOR CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED
For Info: (212) 505 – 6757


Posted on on July 10th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Spanish pronunciation: [mi?t?el ?at?e?let]; born September 29, 1951) is a moderate socialist politician who was President of Chile from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010—the first woman president in the country’s history.

She won the 2006 presidential election in a runoff, beating center-right US dollar billionaire businessman and former senator Sebastián Piñera with 53.5% of the vote.

She campaigned on a platform of continuing Chile’s free-market policies, while increasing social benefits to help reduce the gap between rich and poor, one of the largest in the world.

Bachelet, a pediatrician and epidemiologist with studies in military strategy, served as Health Minister and Defense Minister under President Ricardo Lagos.

Bachelet is the second child of archaeologist Ángela Jeria Gómez and Air Force Brigadier General Alberto Bachelet Martínez.

Facing growing food shortages, the government of Salvador Allende placed Bachelet’s father in charge of the Food Distribution Office. When General Augusto Pinochet came to power in the September 11, 1973 coup, General Bachelet, refusing exile, was detained at the Air War Academy under charges of treason. Following months of daily torture at Santiago’s Public Prison, on March 12, 1974, he suffered a cardiac arrest that resulted in his death. On January 10, 1975, Bachelet and her mother were detained at their apartment by two DINA agents, who blindfolded them and drove them to Villa Grimaldi, a notorious secret detention center in Santiago, where they were separated and submitted to interrogation and torture.[13] Some days later they were transferred to Cuatro Álamos (“Four Poplars”) detention center, where they were held until the end of January. Later in 1975, thanks to sympathetic connections in the military, both were exiled to Australia, where Bachelet’s older brother Alberto had moved in 1969.

Her paternal great-great-grandfather, Louis-Joseph Bachelet Lapierre, was a French wine merchant from Chassagne-Montrachet who emigrated to Chile with his Parisian wife, Françoise Jeanne Beault, in 1860 hired as a wine-making expert by the Subercaseaux vineyards in southern Santiago.

In February 1979, Bachelet returned to Santiago, Chile from East Germany. Her medical school credits from the GDR were not transferred, forcing her to resume her studies from where she had left off before fleeing the country. [citation needed] She graduated as M.D. on January 7, 1983. She wished to work in the public sector wherever attention was most needed, applying for a position as general practitioner; her petition was, however, rejected by the military government on “political grounds.” Instead, because of her academic performance and published papers, she earned a scholarship to specialize in pediatrics and public health at Roberto del Río Children’s Hospital (1983–1986). During this time she also worked at PIDEE (Protection of Children Injured by States of Emergency Foundation), a non-governmental organization helping children of the tortured and missing in Santiago and Chillán. She was head of the foundation’s Medical Department between 1986 and 1990. Some time after her second child with Dávalos, Francisca Valentina, was born in February 1984, she and her husband legally separated. She is a separated mother of three and describes herself as an agnostic.

In 1990, after democracy was restored in Chile, Bachelet worked for the Ministry of Health’s West Santiago Health Service and was a consultant for the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the German Corporation for Technical Cooperation.

Driven by an interest in civil-military relations, in 1996 Bachelet began studies in military strategy at the National Academy for Strategic and Policy Studies (Anepe) in Chile, obtaining first place in her class.[2] Her student achievement earned her a presidential scholarship, permitting her to continue her studies in the United States at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C., completing a Continental Defense Course in 1998. That same year she returned to Chile to work for the Defense Ministry as Senior Assistant to the Defense Minister. She subsequently graduated from a Master’s program in military science at the Chilean Army‘s War Academy.

In 1996 Bachelet ran against future presidential adversary Joaquín Lavín for the mayorship of Las Condes, a wealthy Santiago suburb and a right-wing stronghold. Lavín won the 22-candidate election with nearly 78% of the vote, while she finished fourth at 2.35%. At the 1999 presidential primary of Coalition of Parties for Democracy (CPD), Chile’s governing coalition since 1990, she worked for Ricardo Lagos’s nomination, heading the Santiago electoral zone.

On March 11, 2000 Bachelet—virtually unknown at the time—was appointed Minister of Health by President Ricardo Lagos. She began an in-depth study of the public health-care system that led to the AUGE plan a few years later. She was also given the task of eliminating waiting lists in the saturated public hospital system within the first 100 days of Lagos’s government. She reduced waiting lists by 90%, but was unable to eliminate them completely and offered her resignation, which was promptly rejected by the President.  Controversially,  she allowed free distribution of the morning-after pill for victims of sexual abuse.

On January 7, 2002 Bachelet was appointed Defense Minister, becoming the first woman to hold this post in a Latin American country and one of the few in the world. While Minister of Defense she promoted reconciliatory gestures between the military and victims of the dictatorship, culminating in the historic 2003 declaration by General Juan Emilio Cheyre, head of the army, that “never again” would the military subvert democracy in Chile.  She also oversaw a reform of the military pension system and continued with the process of modernization of the Chilean armed forces with the purchasing of new military equipment, while engaging in international peace operations.

A moment which has been cited as key to Bachelet’s chances to the presidency came during a flood in northern Santiago where she, as Defense Minister, led a rescue operation on top of an amphibious tank, wearing a cloak and military cap.

In late 2004, following a surge of her popularity in opinion polls, Bachelet was established as the only CPD figure able to defeat Lavín, and she was asked to become the Socialists’ candidate for the presidency.

According to The Economist magazine the government of Bachelet opted to make social protection and the promotion of equality of opportunity her main priority. Since becoming President, her government built 3,500 crèches daycare for poorer children. It introduced a universal minimum state pension and extended free health care to cover many serious conditions.
A new housing policy aimed at abolishing the last remaining shanty-towns in Chile by 2010 featured grants to the poorest families. Some of them had to pay just US$400 for a house costing about US$20,000.

In October 2009 Ms Bachelet’s popularity peaked at 80 percent according to a public opinion poll by conservative polling institute Adimark GfK., and in March 2010 she showed an approval rating of 84%, and in terms of specific characteristics attributed to Chile’s president, ‘loved by Chileans’ reached a record 96%.

The Chilean Constitution does not allow a president to serve two consecutive terms, so Bachelet left office in March 2010.

Chile’s October 16, 2006 vote in the United Nations Security Council election—with Venezuela and Guatemala deadlocked in a bid for the two-year, non-permanent Latin American and Caribbean seat on the Security Council — developed into a major ideological issue in the country, and was seen as a test for Bachelet. The governing coalition was divided between the Socialists, who supported a vote for Venezuela, and the Christian Democrats, who strongly opposed it. The day before the vote the president announced (through her spokesman) that Chile would abstain, citing as reason a lack of regional consensus over a single candidate, ending months of speculation.

Continuing the coalition’s free-trade strategy, in August 2006 Bachelet promulgated a free trade agreement with the People’s Republic of China (signed under the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos), the first Chinese free-trade agreement with a Latin American nation; similar deals with Japan and India were promulgated in August 2007. In October 2006, Bachelet promulgated a multilateral trade deal with New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4),  also signed under Lagos’ presidency.  She also held free-trade talks with other countries, including Australia, VietnamTurkey and Malaysia. Regionally, she signed bilateral free trade agreements with Panama, Peru and Colombia.

At the beginning of 2010 Chile became the OECD’s 31st member, and its first in South America. This acceptance for OECD membership marked international recognition of nearly two decades of democratic reform and sound economic policies; for the OECD, Chile’s membership was a major milestone in its mission to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer global economy

She speaks Spanish (her native language), English, German, Portuguese and French.

In 2009 Forbes magazine ranked her as the 22nd in the list of the 100 most powerful women in the world (she was #25 in 2008, #27 in 2007, and #17 in 2006). In 2008, TIME magazine ranked her 15 on its list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Eleanor Clift wrote on on June 10, 2010 that Michelle Bachelet moved the Chilean Government from Macho – to – Maternal. She was clearly the best qualified person to establish and head the new UN institution that was baptized with the terrible name UNWOMEN. And you know what, letting into the UN building a highly qualified person may endanger the minions working there. That, is what doomed on me today, this because I also learned an additional fact about Bachellet’s Chile, and that is why I write this UPDATE.…

The additional fact I learned today came from reading material that will appear in an Energy Management Magazine Published in India. The article is by – Ms. Jimena Bronfman, Vice Minister of Energy, Chile , and it deals with Chile moving into leadership position on energy issues – and you guessed right if you said that Dr. Bachelet started this. In effect the Ministry of Energy – which for Chile is a Ministry of Energy Efficiency – was set up at the end of her days in the Presidential Office. We are sure that this was not an easy task to fulfill – but we are sure that it will be one of her most important legacies. We know that Energy Efficiency is not a top priority of the G77 real on-going leadership and this, more then anything else, explains the diatribe we described in our original posting which we updated now.

The creation of the Ministry of Energy in February 1st 2010 is an important milestone in this process. The law that is the basis for Chile’s current institutional framework also includes the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public private entity that will implement the public policies designed by the Energy Efficiency Division of the Ministry.

Energy Efficiency is one of the main goals of Chile’s national energy policy, families are changing their habits and industries, corporations and local governments are trying to reduce their energy consumption by adopting energy-efficient measures. This fostering environment was recently faced by the February 27th earthquake and tsunami that devastated several regions of our country. We have taken this catastrophe as an opportunity and a challenge to rebuild our towns and cities using energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The Ministry of Energy is working with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education to include energy efficiency measures and non-conventional renewable energies in the reconstruction of health and education infrastructure and emergency housing. We are also developing a pilot project to rebuild a town with the leading best practices in sustainability and energy consumption, so it can be replicated in other parts of the region and world.

Energy Efficiency is key to Chile’s competitiveness and economic growth. According to studies carried out before the earthquake, energy efficiency measures could help reduce Chile’s energy demand by around 14% by 2020. This would have a positive financial impact in the reconstruction process, as public funds saved by reduction of energy consumption can be reallocated to other priorities of the rebuilding program.

Energy Efficiency will also help Chile, whose economy is based on exports, to reduce its carbon footprint and be competitive in a world that is increasingly carbon-conscious. Although Chile’s contribution to global greenhouse emissions is low compared to many other nations, our wines, copper, fruits, fish and wood products are sold in developed markets that will require sustainable production processes.

In order to achieve our goals we are currently developing the Energy Efficiency Strategy for 2020. At the moment a draft proposal is being reviewed by key actors from the private and the public sectors who will be involved in the actual implementation of the strategy. The main objective of this process is to promote a broad discussion of the specific proposals, introduce appropriate improvements and gain comprehensive support for the energy saving goals contemplated in the strategy.  The official version of the E3 will be published after completion of this discussion period, hopefully by the end of November 2010.

Other challenges for this year include the implementation of the rest of our institutional framework, which will be completed by the creation of the Chilean Energy Efficiency Agency, a public-private non-profit entity that will implement the Ministry’s public policies. It will be funded mainly through public funds but will include private sector representatives in its board. The focus of the Agency’s work will be guided by the E3 strategy; however, we shall also aim at developing other important projects such as education. We strongly believe that a crucial driver for change in these matters is highly-skilled human resources. Therefore, education in schools, undergraduate and post-graduate education is needed to introduce strong energy efficiency programs. Other important aspects of energy efficiency lie in smart-grid and net-metering programs.

Another main priority for 2010 is the development of energy efficiency labelling for cars, new houses and domestic appliances. Labelling is currently mandatory for refrigerators and light bulbs, and we aim to expand this initiative so consumers have all the information available to make the right decisions.

We also want to continue growing our international alliances and cooperation. We have already executed collaboration agreements with several countries and organizations worldwide, and we will work to strengthen and deepen those relationships. Energy Efficiency is a global effort that can be fostered by exchanging best practices that will benefit consumers, industries and countries all over the world.


The China and Developing States, the full name of the G77 that purports speaking for 130 out of the 192 UN Member States, is a UN charade – simply, because there never was a common interest among all these various States Now, with China becoming at least a G2 with the United States, if not the straight Global Economic Super power, for her to use the leadership of this rag-tag bunch and push into leadership positions at the UN – Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan etc. resulted in turning the whole UN into a laughable enterprise. Bravo to little Palau that walked out on this continuous obstructionist committee circuit that calls for time-out whenever the UN tries to reach some decision. We watched them at climate Change meetings where Saudi Arabia is their representative.

Perhaps there was once s difference between the industrialized European  – North American countries plus Japan, and the rest of the world – this when the UN was created and the decolonizing process was giving birth to many new UN Member States – in effect multiplying by three the total number of global independent States, but since then much has changed.

The Latin ABC, Mexico, Korea, Turkey, India, Indonesia, South Africa have all knocked successfully at the corporate doors of development and entered the G20. The OECD club includes most of these G20 plus most EU States and Israel that is a perpetual  G77 pariah. They have now real interests to defend and not much time for posturing – so we will see slowly a realignment also at the UN. OK, China and South Africa will not want to give up their positions as leaders of the 130. It keeps some of their diplomats in the circuit and the UN will continue the fiction, but how long hence that the AOSIS/SIDS will still play this game? When will they see that Palau was indeed a trailblazer? Will the lack of action on Climate Change by some of the major OECD members who effectively joined the Saudis in opposing real action on climate, push these States back into the G77 arms?


Chile Threatens to Split South Unity in World Body.
Thalif Deen…

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 7 (IPS) – The Group of 77 (G77) has historically maintained a united front, vociferously protecting the economic interests of developing countries at the United Nations. But its longstanding solidarity is now being threatened by the continued presence of a single Latin American country which recently joined the ranks of a rich elitist group.

Chile, which was formally inducted last May into the 30-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), described as an exclusive club of industrial nations, has given no indications of leaving the G77, thereby triggering a sharp division of opinion among its 130 members. “Chile wants to have it both ways,” one G77 member told IPS, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It wants to have one foot in the OECD and another in the G77. But this is unacceptable to some of us.”

When Mexico and South Korea broke ranks with the developing world and joined the Paris-based OECD back in 1994 and 1996, respectively, both countries quit the G77, the largest single coalition of developing countries at the United Nations.

Chakravarti Raghavan, editor emeritus of the Geneva-based South-North Development Monitor published by the Third World Network, told IPS if Chile does not voluntarily quit the G77, the group must find a way around its longstanding convention of consensus decisions, and “politely but firmly throw Chile out”.

“This will be in line with the spirit and the intentions behind the formation of the Group of 77 and its functioning over all these years,” he added.

“It is probably about time that the G77 being an informal grouping expel Chile – on the simple ground that you can’t belong to two different groupings,” said Raghavan, who is considered a foremost authority on the G77, and who has written extensively about the Group since its inception in June 1964.

“It is my impression that Mexico, when it joined OECD, initially wanted to be in both camps, but was told it was not possible,” he added.

On North-South economic issues at the United Nations, the G77 and the OECD hold diametrically opposite views – most or all of the time.

The OECD is home to some of the world’s major economic powers, including the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Japan. Most of the emerging economic powers, including Brazil, India, China and South Africa, are longstanding members of the G77 and not members of the OECD.

But according to the OECD, it is planning to have discussions with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa – all active members of the G77 – “with a view to possible membership”.

The G77 has lost four other members over the years: Cyprus and Malta (both in May 1994) and Romania (January 2007) when they joined the European Union.

A fourth country, Palau, a small island developing nation in the Pacific, withdrew from the G77 in June 2006, ostensibly for financial reasons.

Besides Chile, Mexico and South Korea, the OECD has also added three other non-G77 members into its ranks: Estonia, Slovenia and Israel.

Speaking off-the-record, a diplomat from a G77 country expressed a dissenting point of view when he told IPS: “There is nothing in the G77 rules or guidelines stating that an OECD member has to quit the G77.”

He said Chile is well within its rights to remain a member of the G77.

“And, while there may be a few in G77 who may not be pleased about Chile remaining in the G77, there are no serious moves afoot to push them out of the grouping,” he said. “Most of us, support Chile remaining in the G77. There will be strong resistance from a number of us if anyone tries to eject Chile from the G77.”

And as an after-thought, he added: “The OECD had made leaving the G77 a condition for Mexico’s entry into the OECD. However, when Chile was applying to the OECD, there was no such condition.”

Moreover, he said, Mexico stated that leaving the G77 should not be a condition for Chile’s entry.

Another G77 delegate told IPS that if Chile does not voluntarily leave the Group, as Mexico and South Korea did in previous years, a divided G77 may be forced to take a decision either way.

Meanwhile the former G8 – the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia – has been expanded into the G20 to include seven developing nations (besides Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union).

The seven developing countries – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa – are still members of the G77.

Chile has argued that G77 members that belong to the G20 should be considered in the same light as G77 members belonging to the OECD. But the G20 is not considered a formal body like the OECD, which is treaty-based and whose decisions are binding on all its members.

According to an OECD statement, the invitation to Chile to become the Organisation’s 31st member came at a time when the OECD is expanding its relations with the region.

As an OECD member, Chile will participate in all areas of the OECD’s work, from economic and financial policy to education, employment and social affairs. It will also join with other OECD countries to share experiences and best practices, setting new standards and developing new governance mechanisms for its economy and society more broadly.

The statement said that during two years of accession negotiations, Chile was reviewed by some 20 OECD committees with respect to OECD instruments, standards and benchmarks.

The invitation to take up membership confirms that Chile is taking appropriate steps to reform its economy including in the areas of corporate governance, anti-corruption, and environmental protection, the statement said.


Posted on on July 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

I just watched Spain win in Johannesburg Ellis Park stadium, by 1:0 its game with Paraguay. This leaves Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Uruguay still standing,  and we dare now to make our own predictions about the  Semi-final and Final games.

July 4th and 5th there are no games.

Tuesday July 6th, in Cape Town’s new Green Point Stadium, Netherlands will play Uruguay and we predict a Netherlands win.

Wednesday July 7th in Durban’s new Moses Mabhida Stadium, Germany will play Spain and we predict a German win.

Saturday, July 10th in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth – The Port Elizabeth Stadium – we predict a Spain – Uruguay game and a Spain win for the third place in the 2010 World Cup.

Sunday, July 11th in the new Johannesburg’s Soccer City Stadium near Soweto, in the iconic shape of the African calabash, there will be the final game of the 2010 World Cup.

We predict that the game will be between Germany and The Netherlands – and we predict The German team wins.

Above means that the final standing, we predict, will be: Germany, The Netherlands, Spain.
An unexpected European ending of the 2010 World Cup that came about with the elimination of Brazil and Argentina in the quarter finals, and after the presence of five teams from the Latin American cone region among the 8 remaining teams when they entered the quarter-finals. Astonishing indeed.

On the European side, the early elimination of France, England and Italy was also considered by many as surprising.…

A Disclaimer: The 2010 South Africa FIFA Football, though strange, but being still rather round, allows for the unexpected – so we take no responsibility for the case our predictions are duds! Do not blame us if you execute the wrong bets.


Posted on on July 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


we learned the following – “Argentina in Cup dilemma.”

a short article by Jude Webber from Buenos Aires that appeared in the Financial Times (in print) of July 3, 2010.

“”No one in Argentina wants the national team to fail to make the World Cup final – except, perhaps, the planners at the foreign ministry trying to get a visit to China back on track.

Cristina Fernández, the president, abruptly cancelled a trip to Beijing in January at the height of a row over the use of central bank reserves to pay off debt because she did not want to leave her estranged vice-president in charge.

The cancellation of the visit, in which she had been due to meet her counterpart Hu Jintao, went down like a tonne of bricks in Beijing and the ill-feeling was widely seen as contributing to China’s subsequent decision to tighten restrictions on imports of soya oil from Argentina, a key supplier.

Ms. Fernández apologised profusely for the faux-pas and the trip was rescheduled – but officials in this football-mad country must have momentarily taken their eyes off the ball: the visit was rearranged for mid-July.

That seriously complicates the presidential agenda: diplomatic sources expect Ms Fernández to attend the World Cup final on July 11, if Argentina make it. But that would mean she would have to race to China for a meeting now pencilled in for July 13-15, and would potentially miss being homecoming queen in Buenos Aires if Argentina triumph.

Commentators are already speculating that Ms Fernández and Néstor Kirchner, her husband, predecessor and likely presidential candidate in 2011, are dreaming of appearing on the balcony of the presidential palace beside football legend Diego Maradona, the national coach.

If Argentina win their third World Cup, a pragmatic solution is bound to be found, but Mr Kirchner knows first-hand the dangers of putting football over business: he once kept former Hewlett-Packard boss Carly Fiorina waiting because he was engrossed in conversation with Mr Maradona. The computer group reportedly returned the snub by switching key investments to Brazil.

A senior Chinese source in Argentina admits the timing is tricky and the dates “are an issue we are discussing with the foreign ministry”.”


Having seen above article earlier today, that is before watching the Argentina-Germany game, played in Cape Town, on ABC in New York, I clearly thought of the political pickle the Kirchner Argentinian internal politics came up with because of some policy vision confusion. Please, you do not push around China when you want their money – just because of internal dissensions!


With Germany and Argentina saying NO TO RACISM – on South Africa’s anti-racism day –  the Argentinians in the crowd dancing to their anthem, and just about half of the Germans singing their anthem,  under the watchful eyes of Chancellor Angela Merkel, present to encourage them, the game started very fast – and the first German goal came about after less then 6 minutes.

The non-anthem singing members of the German team had names like Khedira and Boateng, but to my surprise I learned that even the Argentinians had an Ibrahim that was born in France, but clearly must have been of North Africa lineage. Whatever – this is the globalization of the football game that nevertheless is clearly anchored now in West Europe and in the Southern American cone. These games may now come up with a picture that further narrows it to one anchor – and it is Western Europe. But the last words were not said yet. What is clear nevertheless, is that Japan, China, the Koreas, or anyone else of Asia, will still have to practice for years before having an impact on the World Cup and in Europe the football field has lost some of its evenness – France, England, Italy were the early flunkies.

But this article is really about China – and not because it is great in football. They surely have the money to buy players if they wish to do so. We rather believe they will develop a speedy game and enter it with their own people – but who knows? Surely they will not be left out for long. For one thing – Argentina could help by sending to them Diego Maradona and help this as a joint start-up effort. Maradona will not be needed in South Africa beyond today either.





Posted on on June 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

From the reporting by IPS/TerraViva.…
The final communiques of the G8 and G20 did little to assuage the central grievances that were expressed before the events in Huntsville and Toronto, during the ‘People’s Summit’ held by activists Jun. 18-20, in Toronto, or in the many peaceful demonstrations held prior to and during the summits.

The major issues being protested – lack of commitment regarding climate change and clean energy, the mounting concerns regarding the development of the Albertan tar sands, ongoing wars and foreign occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the imposition of fiscal austerity measures on member states despite continuing fallout from the global economic crisis which began in 2008 – were not resolved.

And perhaps the core concern – that a select, if somewhat broadened, group of elites are making decisions that concern all peoples around the globe largely in secret – appeared to be flaunted by members of the corporate elite, dubbed the ‘B20’ (Business 20), who were on hand.

During the summit, several dozen of the globe’s most powerful CEOs were given exclusive, off-the-record meetings with the G20’s finance ministers and Prime Minister Harper.

The G20 includes the “world’s most industrialised nations” (which also comprise the G8): Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and the United States.

Its other members are Australia, Mexico, Turkey and South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, plus the 27-member European Union.

In concert with the eventual announcement by the G20 that they would seek to halve deficits by 2013 (with the exception of Japan), one business leader projected, “Stimulus is winding down and the private sector is going to have to come in and pick up the slack.”

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty praised the corporate leaders, saying “The advice we get from you is invaluable in terms of our deliberations and the deliberations of our leaders.”

Offering an indication of the B20’s influence, South Korean Finance Minister Jeung-Hyun Yoon told Toronto’s Globe and Mail, “I sincerely hope the business summit can serve as a platform for public-private collaboration and the starting point of the new normal in the global economic architecture.”

As the effects of the latest policy pronouncements begin to be felt, many fear that Toronto will become known also as the staging ground for the security model that will be deployed to protect this new architecture. {The B2o that is!}


Posted on on June 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Dr Taroh Matsuno Wins the IMO Prize

Geneva, 18 June 2010 (WMO) – The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has awarded its most prestigious Prize and honoured several distinguished scientists at the annual meeting of its Executive Council.  These scientists have made outstanding contributions in the field of meteorology, climatology, hydrology and related sciences.

The prizes awarded include the WMO IMO Prize, the Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award and the WMO Research Award for Young Scientists.

The IMO Prize, the highest WMO award, originates from WMO’s predecessor, the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), was founded in 1873. Dr Taroh Matsuno of Japan was awarded the 55th IMO Prize. Dr Matsuno is an eminent research scientist in the field of atmospheric dynamics and a distinguished leader in climate research. His leadership in climate and meteorological research and his constant devotion in the scientific community have significantly contributed to the progress of studies on climate change and will also contribute to the development of international activities/framework such as the global framework for climate services (GFCS).

The Council conferred the Norbert Gerbier-MUMM International Award for 2010 for the paper entitled “Multi-level and Multi-scale Drought Reanalysis over France with the Safran-Isba-Modcou hydrological suite”, published in the Hydrology Earth System Sciences Discussions in 2009 (Vol. 6 No. 5) by Drs J.-P Vidal, E. Martin, L. Francistéguy, F. Habets, J.-M. Soubeyroux, M. Blanchard and M. Baillon, all from France.

The Council also conferred the 2010 WMO Research Award for Young Scientists to Juan José  Ruiz, from Argentina, for the paper entitled “Application of ensemble forecasts to weather prediction at short range over South America” PhD Thesis, and to Gabriela Szepszo, from Hungary, for the paper entitled “Transient simulation of the REMO regional climate model and its evaluation over Hungary”, published in Idojaras.

    The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s
    authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water

For more information please contact at the WMO Communications and Public Affairs Office:

Ms Carine Richard-Van Maele, Chief, Tel: +41 (0)22 730 83 15, E-mail:



Posted on on May 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

After Copenhagen we made changes in the home page of our website.

We started pursuing with more fervor the G2 + IBSA idea as the new global motor. That is China, the US, India, Brazil, and South Africa. We also were looking with magnifying glass at the EU for signs the States may indeed change behavior, coalesce,  and live up to their potential, if united, to be the third member needed to form a G3.

Our second tier of leaders includes – Japan, Russia, Korea, Indonesia, Canada, Mexico, Israel and Turkey, and we also look closely at the ethics  of the impact of sea-rise as exemplified by the Maldives button.

We recently posted about India – its being a governmental-led coal country with a strong NGO movement that sees the need to move over to cleaner fuels based on renewable sources. There is indeed understanding for biofuels in India – but not at the government level. Having said that, it seems India government-backed appointments on climate issues may be rather disappointing as they may have difficulty backing into less conventional energy of the renewable kind.

Now we have the chance to look into Brazil – a country that was in the forefront of showing that it is possible to decrease dependence on petroleum. That goes back to the 1970s and to times Brazil has not found oil yet. Nevertheless, with the original visionaries of the seventies still active – men like Dr. Jaime Rothstein and Professor Jose Goldemberg still active – we had the hope that Brazil will still be interested to chisel out for itself a leadership position in the global effort on climate. We even thought that when President Lula steps down from his position at the mandated end of his Presidency, he could be available to focus his attention on the subject that Sustainable Development is the only concept that will make it possible to improve life on global scale. We clearly expected a Brazilian candidate for the UN office of Climate Chief. We even thought this could have been Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the 1985-2003 President, or Lula’s predecessor.

After his presidency, Cardoso was appointed to a five-year term (2003-2008) as professor-at-large at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, where he is now on the board of overseers. Cardoso is a founding member of the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy’s Advisory Board.  In February 2005, he gave the fourth annual Kissinger Lecture on Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress, Washington DC on “Dependency and Development in Latin America. In 2005, Cardoso was selected by the British magazine Prospect as being one of the world’s top one hundred living intellectuals.

Anyway, while the other two IBSA produced candidates, it was only Brazil that was not interested. In two events these last two weeks, here in New York, at the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, I started to get a feel that makes me think that I grasp the reason why this is happening.

The first event was the April 26, 2010 BRAZIL SUMMIT and the second event was the May 4, 2010, Agribusiness in Brazil extended breakfast.

It is obviously clear that these two events were intended for potential investors in Brazil, but even though Brazil has so much to offer in forward looking business development, i did not get the feel that the presenters were ready to bite the bullet that would have said – look – we are here because we have this terrific potential to become leaders of the future. Instead I seemed to hear – we are here because we can offer you a new place where you can continue to do what you are doing, as bad as it is what you are doing.

Brazil Trip Summary by Thomas W. Keesee at says:

“Smart Brazilians always bought Brazil when the foreigners were not interested, considered the country a basket case, and prices
reflected it. Then as prices rose, the smart foreigners began to buy as well, until finally the news hit the front pages of the press,
attracting the mass uninformed. This final wave of money then drove prices even higher until the inevitable crisis, either
originating in Brazil or elsewhere, caused those last in to all rush for the exit door. Except by that time, the Brazilians were long
gone, having taken their profits and retreated to the safety of the greenback to await another opportunity.
Brazil therefore was a speculators’ market, where liquidity and market timing were the keys to success, and foreign capital was to
be viewed as succor’s money, to be taken advantage of by the locals. Or as one experienced equities manager put it, “in the 80s
and 90s, the traders ruled and we locked the analysts in the closet.”
But something is clearly in the air now in Brazil that smells of a change. In 30 years of covering Brazil, I have never been so
convinced, nor heard so many Brazilians convinced, that the country is on a sustained path of growth and is moving to a
new level of development, with a larger more robust domestic economy as its foundation.”

And low and behold, seemingly a third seminar at the Brazil Camber of Commerce will happen June 3, 2010 – its topic: “the 2010 Brazil Renewable Energy Seminar.” Let us hope this will go beyond the excellent May 4th seminar that nevertheless left us wanting for real intent.


At the Summit of April 26th the main speaker was the Finance Minister Giudo Mantega who did the Keynote lunch presentation. Others included the President of the Central Bank of Brazil, Mr. Henrique de Campos Meirelles, the Chief Financial Officer of Banco do Brazil, The Mayor of the City of Fortaleza, State of Ceara in the Northeast, the Vice Minister and Executive Secretary of Ports to the Presidency of Brazil – Mr. Augusto Wagner Padhila Martins and the Ambassador to the United States Mr. Mauro Vieira. I will look later at the general state of the economy, but would like to note first that Brazil presented its interest in investments in port facilities, as the oil production boom is creating opportunities for tremendous enlargements in shipping of oil, liquefied natural gas, and biofuels – ethanol, soy oil bodiesel, as well as agricultural products like hard soy beans.

Further, the two major upcoming sport events in 2014 and 2016 will necessitate building of stadiums and tourism facilities spread all over Brazil. The Mayor addressed all of that as she comes from the area in Brazil that starts behind, but has the greatest potential in all of that.

In addition, as this was really a Wall Street event, five chief evaluators for Standard and Poor spoke, as well as three Brazilian analysts.

Brazil came out from the global downturn with only a 2-3% drop in 2009, and is heading now for a 5.5% gain in 2010 in GDP. They expect investment to grow threefold to GDP and if I heard correctly, Brazil is not looking for any investment except for investment in those areas they want to develop now – they call this strategic investment. Industry confidence in March 2010 was the second highest since 1995 – industry can grow 8% this year without pressuring installed capacity. The industrial output grew 18.4% in February on a yearly basis. It was also noted that increased demand in Brazil helps the economies in Latin America in general – this according to the IMF.

Consumption goods production capacity is expected to increase at 27.1% for 2010-2012 or an average of 7.2% per year. The question floating in the air was if it will lead to inflation? The motor vehicle market is growing with 353.7oo units sold in March 2010, and consumer confidence is increasing. Looking at retail sales, we found interesting that Office computers, communications supplies, books, newspapers, magazine, stationary articles were the only products that lost in sales in February 2010.

The middle class is growing, new formal jobs are created, poverty was reduced in poorest regions with social improvements and inflation control activities that helped the real income of lower classes. Interest rates decreased but there is a future expectation of rise in interest rates.

In international comparison, Brazil did better overall then Russia, South Africa, and Mexico and the Brazilian GDP is one of the best performances among the G-20 – surpassed only by Indonesia, China and Russia. In terms of domestic demand it is surpassed only by China. In absolutes it is the fourth largest market for automobiles – beyond China, the US and Japan. In employment generation it has the highest growth rate in the world 38%, followed by India, Singapore, Argentina, China, Japan, US, South Africa – this while countries in Europe show negatives – minus 10% in Italy.

The fiscal situation among the G-20 in 2010: Only Saudi Arabia showed a positive – a surplus balance of 1.7% of GDP.

Brazil and Argentina had the smallest deficit – just -1.5% expected for 2010 followed by Mexico at -1.6%. This compares with -13.5% for the UK and -11.1% for the US with China at -2.9%. But bank lending is rather in the opposite direction. With the lower debt came the lower vulnerability Argentina at 12% of GDP and the US at 187% of GDP. The lower vulnerability is also in terms of external vulnerability. For Brazil, Foreign investments and domestic capital markets support the deficit in Brazil.

Worrisome perhaps is the decrease in non-commodity exports from Brazil while commodity exports went up. China’s share in those exports has increased while exports to OECD countries has decreased.

On the other hand, the increase in international reserves and reduction of external debt, Brazil reduced the risks related to foreign financial flow reversals – so it has become less vulnerable to international happenings. and is more resilient to crises than in the past.


At the May 4th, 2010 Agribusiness in Brazil long breakfast:

The speakers were:

Gustavo Barbeito – Risk manager of Los Grobo.

Alan Boyce – CEO of Absalon – a joint venture between George Soros and a Danish financial group. He is also President of Adecoagro – a food and renewable energy-producing company that owns and operates highly productive land throughout Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, and is consultant to Soros Fund Management. His presentation on ethanol and biodiesel was extremely interesting and provided much insight.

Philip Corzine – currently manager for South American Soy, LLC – a multinational company focused on agricultural investment, management, operations, and green field projects in Brazil. He operated corn and soybeen family projects since 1979 in Central Illinois but was also with Gerson Lehrman Group’s Council of Experts consultant on US and International biofuels. In 1998 he founded AgPage International Consulting with the US, Illinois based farm interests.

Robert G. Hibbert – is a partner at K&L Gates LLP, the law firm that hosted the breakfast. He centers on US Department of Agriculture regulation of the on food labeling and safety.

Christian de Lima Ramos – is a founding Partner of Ramos e Zuanon Advogados and specializes in corporate law in structured trade and commodity finance, mergers and acquisitions and project finance. He works with multinationals involved in Brazil.

The moderator was Francis Larkin, Chairman of the Trade & Business Investment Committee and member of the Board of the BACC, Inc. He is the Senior Vice President of Hamburg based Hamburg Sud containerized transportation company that runs a fleet of 175 vessels and has a Brazilian subsidiary Alianca Lines, that he also runs and is managing Director for the United States.

John Ergas, a member of BACC got a special commendation for having suggested the event and the speakers.


From Barbeito we learned that Los Grobo & Solis and the Grobocopatel fund, Vinci Partners, and Touragi Capital Mgmt. based in New York – one of the largest commodity hedge funds, are behind the agricultural investments in Brazil and Argentina.

South America – that is Brazil and Argentina, are the Natural Suppliers to an increasingly urbanizing world and the need for biofuels with the potential to increase agriculture in places like Mato Grosso, and that is where the Vinci Partners invest.The future holds that Brazil, US, Argentina will increase soybean production and China will increase its buying of the beans.

The Climate Risk:  This is the least understood in farming business. We cannot control climate but we can protect against it – that is where risk management comes in. There is a large cost of production difference among Latin America’s countries. In Argentina it is leased land that is farmed – in Brazil it is owned land. Farm land is an asset class but not a hedge. Then, Brazilian land needs nutrients – fertilizers. In Brazil the land is broken up by ownership – of the 40 million hectares farmed for grain, the largest farm is only 1% of this. Wow! does that mean that the speaker would have loved to see bigger concentration of the land?

Brazil has a large potential internal market and is potentially the best “crusher” of the beans. China gets now 42-45% of the Brazilian exports. The presentation included climate risk analysis of the Brazilian farming regions and logistical preferences, Then we saw that less favorable logistics create lower risk but lower margins.


Boyce told us that his people decided that Mato Groso do Sul is the best region for fuel ethanol.

He pointed out how our mind is conditioned by the global map that puts Europe at the center. This projection shows Europe larger, and Africa and the rest smaller. This comes from the intent to show clearer the small States of Europe. In effect Brazil is indeed larger then we think and so is Argentina.

Another wrong conception is that the sugar cane industry leads to deforestation. That is not the case as sugar cane finds the Amazonas unproductive. What leads to deforestation is the use of charcoal for mainly the pig-iron production. He told us that the expansion of sugar cane production on the lands under his companies ownership comes on previous coffee tree plantations. Cutting those trees and using them for charcoal replaces the Amazonas tree cutting – so, enlarging sugar cane production saves the Amazon.

Mato Grosso do Sul was used for cattle business and POWER CANE takes land from pastures and can increase ethanol production ten-fold without touching the Amazon trees. With all of this he said that gasoline is still the fuel of choice in Brazil!

Brazil had also a tariff against imports of ethanol, not just the US – but now Brazil has eliminated its own tariff and there is hope the US will follow suite.

Boyce showed tables comparing the production of ethanol from sugar cane and corn – sugar cane has a yield that is twice as much as corn. Further – there is the yield of power from the sugar cane bagasse. The two mills their company owns can produce 100 MW of electricity of which the mills need only 30 MW, so they have further 70 MW they can sell to the grid. But then he said – what is important in the fuel ethanol industry is the ratio of portable fuel per fuel input in the overall agriculture, milling, and distillery stages of the ethanol production. He gave these ratios 16.4 to one for corn but 54,9 for sugar cane.

Mr. Boyd, to his credit, did not enter the conventional path of pro-sugarcane ethanol interests of bad mouthing the corn-ethanol producers. Obviously, this was not in his interest. He rather made it clear that both primary materials show positive energy balances and sugar cane can give much better results. This is a very fair presentation and I will get back to this.


Corzine told us that they have farmland in Tocatins. They take raw cerrado and turn it into usable property. At present the land is underdeveloped and in cattle.

US agriculture works in high volume and small margin with high efficiency, he said, and it results in great profits. But not everyone can duplicate this.

They are more interested in soybeans and he referred us to and


De Lima told us about the” US Regulatory Environment for Food and Agribusiness: Changes, Challenges and Opportunities.”

“Know your Farmers: Know your Food” – today you cannot know your cow anymore. The legal business is now also a certifying business – as people ask for specifics like organic food as one example. This requires a certification process and people are more conscious and sophisticated regarding their food.


The four presentations were followed with close to one hour of Q&A.

I will concentrate here on my own question to two of the speakers.

From Mr. De Lima I wanted to know if his firm has considered the new opportunities that result from the need for certification in what regards the need for measuring the reduction in cO2 emissions for purpose of carbon credits as they are applied already in Europe and on a voluntary basis by some in the US?

The clear answer was that they are not yet involved in this but Mr. De Lima is ready to review this potential new area for his company.

From Mr. Boyd I wanted to know some further details about his “portable fuel per fuel input” ratios.

Obviously, he compared the use of diesel in the process when ethanol is the product. from what he said he was regarding both as fuels – albeit liquid fuels – thus portable fuels as he called it rather then electricity. Fair enough – but as it happened we have historic background in this as we were involved in Congressional hearings as far back as about 35 years ago. Our argument then was that ethanol should not be regarded as a fuel – but rather as an octane boosting additive to gasoline. Thanks to the octane value of ethanol, which is 114 it compares rather highly positive to the gasoline as it comes out at the refinery, which is normally only 83. When unleaded gasoline was established by law, and after all alternative to the addition of ethanol to gasoline as octane enhancer were found environmentally harmful, and the production of higher octane components such as branched chain molecules or aromatics, if produced from petroleum at the refinery, these require about 6% more crude in the production of the gasoline. If the same result can be obtained by adding ethanol instead, this turns into a calculus of an ethanol displacement of crude, rather then ethanol displacement of diesel. With three percent of ethanol in gasoline giving us one increased octane point – we can see that if we need 10% of ethanol in the mixture in order to make the gasoline marketable – this per gallon of ethanol means we displace something that is closer to 1.6 gallons of a petroleum product.

Also, the energy content as measured in calorimetry, of ethanol is only 2/3 of that of gasoline, but the higher octane allows a better result in terms of miles/gallon when the two materials are measured in running motor vehicles, again, we get higher displacement of petroleum if this is measured in actual transportation.

So my question, based on this was if such calculations were part of the figures shown? And the answer was that the figures can be refined.

In short, we were very happy with the presentations, but we still think the subject, though much better reviewed now then it was 35-25 years ago, is still dominated by economic interests rather then by the scientists. The approach seems to go in the direction of how to hurt little as possible the opposition, this in order to move forward with the acceptance of the product. That is understandable, and we agree that petroleum is here to stay and it will be replaced in stages. We suggest thus to look at the petroleum refinery at the octane market first – spread the ethanol over the global gasoline pool and back out maximum of CO2 emissions by using the ethanol this way.

Back to our original topic in this review of the potential of Brazil as a leader in the climate reviews – Brazil becoming a supplier of octane to the world will have higher impact then the simpler concept of ethanol as a biofuel. It would be correct if Petrobras would come on board and convince the environment Ministry to bring such arguments to the forefront. Further, decreasing the need for gasoline with the use of ethanol requires also a use of biodiesel, let us say soybean based, this in order to avoid imbalances at the petroleum refinery that must produce both – gasoline and diesel fuels.