7 Aug 2010

Roberto Perez: Derek Wall 'shows us about strategy and struggle'

It was a real pleasure to spend some time with Roberto
Perez when he did his speaking tour in Britain.

When the Cuban economy was in severe crisis after cheap
oil from Russia stopped with the fall of the Soviet Union,
Roberto helped save Cuba from collapse by promoting permaculture
and other low energy solutions.

'The Power of Community' dvd is all about his work.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens.

Incidentally he is a fine economist and argues that land
reform in Cuba based on the ideas of Elinor Ostrom provides
for a new economy which is socialist but democratic.

A really inspiring person, so very glad to have him
writing in my new No Nonsense Guide to Green Politics.

The world is changing and challenging us, and
people are changing too. Maybe not as fast as we
need, unfortunately not as fast as the world for sure,
but there have been important processes of political
convergence in the last few years worldwide. Many
different strands are now pushing for a change of
paradigm, aiming to build a human society that
makes peace with nature and with itself, not leaving
anybody behind and preserving the ecosystems that
support life on Earth.

The green movement in general – represented by the
Green parties in Europe, or by the Political Ecology
networks in Latin America, to give just two examples
– has been part of this struggle for many years, but
there have been many misunderstandings regarding
its approach to achieving the vision of a healthy
environment and at the same time guaranteeing
a dignified life for millions of poor people in the

But politics is the art of the possible. New alliances
are forming, we have been too separated for too long,
and those fighting for people’s rights, for healthy
food, for social change and for nature, are trying to
find a common platform to face powerful economic
interests and privileged elites that are well positioned
in governments worldwide.

Common sense is not as common as it should be
– and unfortunately is very scarce in politics. The
No-Nonsense Guide to Green Politics makes a modest
but important contribution to finding that common
sense and spreading it. Derek Wall’s interesting book
shows us about strategy and struggle and how to fight
for the environment is to fight for the people. A better
world is possible.

Roberto Pérez Rivero,

Cuban sustainability activist

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