by Sandra Rodriguez
Cancun, August 7. With the aim of preparing public demonstrations against the Fifth Ministerial of the World Trade Organization, which will be held here from September 10 to 14, Walden Bello, Raul Bennett, and Peter Rosset of the network “Our World is not for Sale” arrived in Cancun yesterday.After holding a brief meeting with the critics of globalization of the Welcome to Cancun Committee that is organizing the Forum of the People, the activists told the press that they did not come to promote, initiate, or provoke acts of violence. On the contrary, they said that from their experience in previous ministerials of the WTO, it was the government side that infiltrated agitators into the ranks of activists in order to unleash violence and that they themselves had been committed to preventing any violent response from their ranks.

Walden Bello of Focus on the Global South had this to say to the Mexican government: “You should not worry about us, since we come simply to defend our ideas and our rights. You should worry, instead, about defending Mexican sovereignty from the security forces of the United States during the meeting.” Bello recounted his experiences in other gatherings, where US security forces took over control of the events and the streets during the protests.

The critics of globalization expressed their confidence that the Mexican government would understand their movement and not repress it, as in previous WTO ministerials. However, they expressed their concern with measures taken by some Cancun hotels against some of the anti-globalization activists, such canceling their reservations “without giving explanations or saying they were acting under orders of the government, only to be told by the government that it knew nothing about the moves of the hotels. But this will not deter us from coming to Cancun.”

According to them, farmers belonging to UNORCA (National Union of Autonomous Regional Farmers’ Organizations), which invited them to Cancun, will begin arriving in the first days of September.

In the press conference, Peter Rosset of the Institute for Food and Development Policy, who also acted as Bello’s translator, expressed his view that the meeting offered Cancun the opportunity of being not only the most popular tourist destination in the world but also having the distinction of becoming the graveyard of the WTO.

Bello expounded on three elements that contributed to the collapse of the Third Ministerial of the WTO in Seattle in 1999 that were beginning to reappear in the negotiations on agriculture and other areas in the lead-up to Cancun.

He cited, first of call, the “serious” conflicts between the European Union and the United States as the two parties sought to preserve their subsidies in agriculture.

The second element was the “tremendous resentment” on the part of the governments of the South at the constant pressure on them by the governments of the North to open their markets without their gaining any benefits from the process.

Finally, he said, “We will see whether the third element will emerge in Cancun, and this is the response not only of the people of Mexico but also of the peoples of the world, since the event in Cancun will not only be a Mexican affair but one that involves the whole world against the interests of the big transnational corporations.”

Sandra Rodriguez from El Diario de Quintana Roo