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Cancun Uncovered

7th May 2004

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Cancun UncoveredMuch hope was held out before the last round of talks of the World Trade Organisation in Cancun, Mexico.

Ending third world debt, putting the need for water and hunger for the world's poor at the centre of the trade discussions, as well as levelling the trade playing field - these were just a few of the issues that pressure groups from around the world had hoped would be advanced.

Christian Aid was one of these organisations. And this documentary called Cancun Uncovered is a fascinating and dramatic look at the hopes and aspirations of those attending.

It goes on to show how the talks fell apart at a crucial moment, leaving so many people so disappointed.

Dr Claire Melamed, Christian Aid's head of trade policy later wrote on the Christian Aid website about the failure of the talks: "At 3.30 on Sunday afternoon George Odour Ong'wen from Kenya descended an escalator in Cancun's convention centre and proclaimed Mexico's world trade summit over. Talks had broken down, he said. Kenya had walked out and the fifth ministerial meeting of the WTO was over.

"This was a highly dramatic moment, but there is a theatre to international diplomacy that often obscures its importance. Real people's lives are playing out in the wings.

"As the meeting in Mexico was beginning, Christian Aid was hosting Britain's trade secretary, Patricia Hewitt, as she visited poor farmers in nearby Honduras. Ms Hewitt will probably never forget the welcome she was given when she arrived at the tiny house owned by rice farmer Maria Marcos Rivera. The diminutive 62-year-old Honduran woman threw her arms around the politician and embraced her like a long-lost friend.

"Honduras' rice farmers were all but wiped out during the 1990s because of cheap imports of rice from the USA. Rivera finally stopped planting two years ago. But recently the government of Honduras has begun to protect rice farmers and the production of rice is picking up. It is also planning to help farmers like Rivera with seeds and fertiliser. On hearing this, Ms Hewitt nodded and smiled and agreed that these were important measures for developing countries to have at their disposal." Click here to read Dr Melamed's full article on the failure of Cancun.

Organisations

Christian Aid
An agency of the churches in the UK and Ireland which works wherever the need is greatest, irrespective of religion.

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