- Published on Tuesday, 02 September 2003 01:55
Just as delegates at the Fifth Ministerial of the World Trade Organization were being welcomed with close attention to protocol, thousands of and indigenous people from around the world filled the streets of Cancun in a peaceful march to present our views on the problems in agriculture worldwide. We were welcomed with an imposing police presence, which had surrounded the city and erected high fences. While those inside were discussing the elimination of so-called trade barriers, enormous barriers were being raised to silence the voices of the people affected by policies WTO has adopted.
The repression of the peasants in Cancun today reflect the lack of democracy in the practices of WTO, which negotiates agreements that benefit transnational corporations, often against the interests of the people. At each Ministerial Human Rights and the rights of citizens appear to be further and further from the concerns of this organization.
Even in these circumstances, the farmers’ movement put forth a Declaration containing eight priorities, the outcome of the Farmers’ and Indigenous Forum, which ended in the same city today. Among the highlights were urgent demands to get WTO out of issues of food and agriculture, that eliminate genetically modified foods be eliminated, and that future policies support the principles of food sovereignty and justice.
Our hearts mourn the death of our fellow farmer, Lee Kyong Hae, who in an act of desperation ended his own life. This act of self-immolation proves even more that the WTO means death, sorrow, and impotence.
One more time we flatly and emphatically demand that the WTO takes the Agricultural Agreement (AoA) out of its agenda. We do not want one more death. We do not want people to continue to die of hunger; we do not want our land to die. WE DO NOT WANT ONE MORE DEATH.
We demand respect for our grief, the grief of farmers worldwide, and the grief of the 120 Koreans who have struggled hard to come here, to Mexico, to Cancun, to show their opposition to the WTO and to fight for food sovereignty.
We propose that the negotiations at the convention center be suspended out of respect for the deceased.
At great cost we understand this sacrifice of life in life, this immolation committed by our friend Lee Kyong Hae has left us speechless and heartbroken but with a great commitment to continue to fight for life.
We want this to be taken into account. We, farmers who ask to be heard, do not want this death to be in vain; we want a solution to the despair in which large part of the farmers are living because of these international treaties.