The much-awaited revised draft of the ministerial declaration was finally released Saturday afternoon, to the dismay of developing countries and trade activists.

A quick analysis of the text reveals that it proposes that negotiations start immediately on two of the Singapore Issues (government procurement and trade facilitation). Over 70 developing and least-developed countries made a stand last week on these issues, stating that they won’t accept launching negotiations before further clarifications. The Singapore Issues, which also include competition policy and investment, are not a priority of developing countries, which rather want to see progress in the dismantling of agricultural barriers.

Mainstream media has focused extensively on the possible breakthrough on the farm subsidies front. But in essence, the agricultural revised text is actually less progressive than the preliminary draft, essentially aiming at opening access to developing countries. As an Asian delegate observed, “It is a bad document. Everything is bad. Agriculture is totally unbalanced. The plan aims merely to prise open developing country markets.”

The bribing strategy the United States has been implementing was moderately successful as El Salvador pulled out of the G-22. El Salvador was one of the countries to which the U.S. offered bilateral higher export quotas in exchange for breaking with the group. Guatemala and Costa Rica are still standing in a common front with their 19 partners of African, Asian and Latin American developing countries to see a text that reflects their needs and priorities.

Still, nothing is played out yet as negotiations went on through the night and were still in progress on Saturday.


You have to believe it.

Leaving the sterile environment of the media centre Saturday night, we found ourselves incapable of escaping the confines of the Convention Centre.

Civil society activists found the way to escape security checks for the whole 10 km separating downtown Cancun, where most globalocriticos camp, and the meeting site.

Organized by American activist Starhawk, the peaceful protest invaded Kukulkan Boulevard in front of the Centre. Blocking traffic, about 150 protesters danced and chanted to the beat of many drums for about two hours.

Blocked behind the barricades, some delegates were swearing, others found the atmosphere curious, even entertaining from behind the barricades.

The protesters left peacefully and even negotiated with Melva Pria, the NGO liaison of the Mexican Organizing Committee, to get two buses to return to the camp.


You gotta love those media reports. Reading from The Globe and Mail and the National Post, you probably learned that Saturday’s protest, the last large demo planned for the week was a violent one, where 200 masked protesters broke through the barricades and threw feces at the riot police.


First, you need to understand that the authors of these articles were not at the protest. They were in the media centre, waiting for another Pettigrew press conference that never materialized. The “report” they based their articles on was written by the Associated Press.

In reality, leaving from the Casa de Cultura in downtown Cancun, over 2,000 protesters marched slowly towards the first security point where Wednesday’s protest was held.

Waiting for them were huge barriers, an imposing police force and water cannons. The protest was peaceful, filled with chanting and dancing.

The most touching moment came when an elder Mayan woman approached the fences and slowly cut them, creating a breach no one tried to penetrate.

After about four hours, the crowd started to leave — except for these 200 masked protesters who did commit these reported actions.

Did I hear someone say “bias”?


This is no paranoia.

Spies are everywhere in the Cancun Centro de Convenciones. They walk in between delegates and in the media centre, eavesdropping on conversations and watching your computer screen.

Interestingly enough, most of them carry the orange badge identifying NGO delegates. Sometimes, they have the green badge of reporters. But they are unmistakably spies, either for the WTO security forces intent on gathering intelligence on the time and place of protests for example (There are many dual NGO/media representatives in the media centre).

Some governments also employ them to roam around other delegations in the hope of catching interesting tidbits of information in informal exchanges.

How to distinguish a spy? They are those who come to you with a badge of one colour before you see them in the cafeteria wearing the blue (government) or white (organizer) badge.