Such good news!

  • I still am awed by the fact that the WTO talks have broken down. We should be dancing in the streets and making toasts and beating on drums in celebration, but no the world goes on.

    I may be making too much of this but I can’t help but feel like this is a glimmer of hope that says that God has not given up on this world and those who live here, and that maybe this world can be a better place with God’s help and the goodwill of our brothers and sisters in the cause of peace and justice around the world.

    One of the most compelling accounts I’ve found thus far on what has gone down in Cancun at the WTO meetings is on UTNE. Here is one excerpt that I especially want to share from the 9/14-9/15 dispatch from Cancun:

      At the end, Antonia gives a report on what happened inside. The Kenyans were part of a ‘Green Room’ — one of the small ‘informal’ meetings where the real decisions of the ministerial are laid out, where the big, powerful countries represent themselves and the developing countries might have one representative for dozens. Kenya was representing not just themselves but the whole group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific nations and the African Union. The developing countries wanted agricultural agreements to limit the subsidies for U.S. and European crops that keep prices artificially low and allow the dumping of grain in their countries that destroys the livelihood of their farmers. The U.S. and E.U. wanted to put investments on the table, to craft a new version of the old Multilateral Agreement on Investments that civil society defeated back in the ’90s. When it became clear to the Kenyans that the U.S. and E.U. were saying they would have to accept the investment agreement if they wanted to talk about agriculture, they walked out. When they announced their decision, they were joined by South Korea and India. At least two of the delegates were now referring to the WTO in the past tense,

      “And the delegates from Brazil and Swaziland both said that if it weren’t for the actions inside and outside, they wouldn’t have been able to stand strong,” Antonia finishes. An electric shock of joy pulses through the room, and we all burst into cheers. That was our strategy — the hope we held throughout all the work and planning, that if there was clear, strong public opposition to the WTO in the streets and in the forums and in the conferences themselves, the disaffected delegates of the developing world would be empowered and supported to rebel. And they did.

    In reading this, I am also struck with the courage of Kenya’s government to be willing to be the point man for this opperation. To be willing to stand up to the first world and say “no this ain’t right and we aren’t going along with it” is not an easy stand to take, especially when your nation suffers with tremendous levels of poverty (with an average 2002 GDP per capita of $1,020 as estimated by the US government) and could potentially suffer from reduced aid from the Western world as a result.

    I would encourage anyone reading this to take a moment and send an email/letter/fax to the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, D.C. to let them know that you appreciate that nation’s courageous stand for the world’s poor.

  • Granma International (Cuba): 5th WTO ministerial meeting ends without agreement — The intransigence of the rich over the crucial issue of subsidies comes face to face with the strong position of the underdeveloped countries. G-22 emerges strengthened