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Video and audio: Cuban permaculturist -- `Climate change means we must change'

Cuban permaculturist Roberto Perez spoke at the Climate Change | Social Change conference, April 11-13, Sydney. Click here for more videos and text.

Roberto Perez on bio-fuels, agribusiness & the food crisis (below)

Roberto Perez's thanks to international solidarity from permaculturists and left activists (below)

Roberto Perez Live in the Studio

19.3MB 64kbps mono 42:13min
Roberto Perez talks about the Cuban way into a sustainable future. This is a truly excellent and wide ranging interview fostered by an informed interviewer which discusses Permaculture, and the role of solidarity with Cuba.

Original audio source



Duroyan Fertl, Green Left Weekly

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc in the early 1990s, Cuba lost access to the oil, fertilizers and virtually all trading partners that the small island nation depended upon to survive. Cuba faced economic collapse virtually overnight.

Cuba, however, refused to give up on building a socialist society — maintaining, for example, its universal free healthcare and education — while it entered into the period of economic hardship known as the “Special Period”, and the United States tightened its decades-long blockade of the country.

During this time, however, it faced an even more challenging crisis: securing food to sustain the population. Over half the country’s food had come from the USSR, and most of its petroleum, fertilisers and pesticides were imports.

Early in the “Special Period”, a number of Australians travelled to Cuba to introduce permaculture, a form of sustainable, low-input agriculture. The ideas were eagerly taken up by the Cuban government as part of its policy of “linking people with the land”. The government immediately set about creating urban agricultural cooperatives and investing in biotechnology and agricultural science.

Cuban agriculture is now over 95% organic, and the city of Havana itself now produces over 60% of its fruit and vegetables within the city’s urban and peri-urban spaces, in community gardens and cooperatives. Multi-cropping, worm-farms, appropriate crops and water efficiency have led to an explosion in urban agriculture, and local food production has been a source of employment, while cutting down on unnecessary transport costs.

At the same time, Cuba has been engaging in a massive reforestation campaign, and has invested massively in alternative energy production, particularly solar and biofuels.

When the World Wildlife Fund released their Living Planet report in 2007, only one country — Cuba — managed to meet the criteria set for sustainable development, by “improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems”.

With help from Cuban experts, Venezuela has also begun setting up city-farms in Caracas and elsewhere, with a target of meeting 20% of that country’s demand with a reliable, sustainable food source.

Now Australia will have the chance to hear first-hand about the Cuban experiences over the past decade. Roberto Perez Rivero, permaculture and environmental educator for the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity — Cuba’s major environment organisation — will be touring Australia in March and April this year.

Perez is one of Cuba’s leading permaculturalists, featured in the award-winning documentary on Cuba’s shift to sustainable development, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.

Perez will be a keynote speaker at the Climate Change — Social Change conference organised by Green Left Weekly in Sydney on April 11-13.

For information on Perez’s national tour, visit For more information, videos and audio from Climate Change — Social Change Conference, visit


You can purchase The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

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% — 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.

It is an unusual look into the Cuban culture during this economic crisis, which they call "The Special Period". The film opens with a short history of Peak Oil, a term for the time in our history when world oil production will reach its all-time peak and begin to decline forever. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis — the massive reduction of fossil fuels — is an example of options and hope.

DVD available for A$27 at the Resistance Bookshop, 5th floor, 407 Swanston St, Melbourne (opposite RMIT) or online at Resistance Books. Ph +61 3 9639 8622 for further information.


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