Collapse as “G-21” Resists big Power
The collapse of the World
Trade Organization talks in Cancun, Mexico
early September gave
vindication to anti-WTO protests in Vancouver
and around the planet. And it bore out predictions of a major split
industrialized nations and Third World
countries from WTO critics on the eve of the talks September 9.
As with previous sessions of
the group, the talks were marked by
protests of thousands who occasionally clashed with police and at one
tore down the perimeter fence dividing the delegates from those whose
their decisions determine. The mood of jubilation following the
contrasted with the sombre acknowledgment of the protest suicide of
farmers' leader Lee Kyung Hae at the barricades on the first day of
Meanwhile, at a "carnival" in
a downtown Vancouver
park September 14, revellers, including a marching band and a satiric
called "Slash Gordon," linked WTO policies to things like public
service cutbacks and privatization in British Columbia. The preceding
evening a forum in New
an intellectual backdrop for those assertions.
Those attending saw a
videotape of a press conference held on the eve of
the talks in which international critics of the WTO cited the growing
between rich and poor countries at the table.
"I think this is a moment
when this coming together of a group of
twenty developing country governments putting forward alternative
could be one of the stories of the next five days," said John Cavanaugh
the US-based Institute for Policy Initiatives. Lori Wallach of Public
Global Trade Watch said delegates from Third World
countries were under great pressure from their populations to protect
farmers and not accede to the rich countries' agenda. The resisters,
the "G-21," opposed the enormous subsidies to northern agribusiness
that has caused the rapid decline of producers in developing countries
we had millions of farmers on the streets saying this treaty was going
genocidal to our producers," testified Vandana Shiva, of the Foundation
for Science, Technology and Ecology. "Before I left, in one month
in one state alone, 675 farmers had committed suicide.
"We were told we shouldn't be
growing wheat and rice for feeding
Indians anymore; we should be growing potatoes to make cheaper cheap
fries, now freedom fries."
Maude Barlow of the Council
of Canadians told the press conference that
despite assurances from the G-7 governments, public services such as
care are indeed on the table – meaning they're ripe for privatization.
"Here in Cancun
absolutely no consensus. There are very, very deep divisions between
south [while large] countries, including my own, are pushing ahead with
greedy, powerful new agenda to impose their will and their interests on
Prominent publisher and
author Mel Hurtig, founder and former leader of
the now-defunct National Party, told the forum that Canada's
Liberal government is a major promoter of its version of global “free
and was leading the push for expansion at Cancun.
itself is in grave danger as a nation from free trade, said Hurtig.
He summarized findings
presented in his latest book, The Vanishing Country,
that show the
decline of Canadian ownership of its resources and corporations since
trade was first brought in the former Brian Mulroney Tory government.
takeovers have accelerated, with some 10,441 firms sold in the eighteen
since the Mulroney government abolished FIRA, the Foreign Investment
Agency, he said.
Employment growth in the
1990s was lower than in any decade since the
Great Depression, said Hurtig. Only 1.5 million jobs were created,
2.3 million in the preceding decade.
Wage increases in Canada
have fallen drastically since free trade, less than a third of those in
decade since the Depression, Hurtig said.