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Over 10,000 people marched against the WTO in Cancun

12.09.2003

Issued by the African People's Caucus
10/09/03



Activists from all over the world gathered at the Aquaduct in the center of Cancun, Mexico. It was the second in a week of protests against the actions of the World Trade Organisation. The march was led by Via Campesina, a Mexican organization consisting of small farmers and peasant and fisher movements.

Today were the WTO negotiations around agriculture and environment. It is a topic that has mobilised many Latin ,Central American and African groups and has caused internal strife for the WTO. The march attempted to use passive resistance to communicate the people's opposition to the proposed legislation.

Over ten thousand people made their way towards the barricaded area that houses the representatives of over 145 governments and the infrastructure of the WTO Ministerial. They marched up to the steel gates in the hopes of directly communicating with their own country's representatives. They had no such luck.

The march snaked along the centre of town. In the absence of a police presence the black block, a group of anarchist youth famous for direct action at protests just like this one, left spray painted slogans in the wake of the protestors. The constant drum beat emanating from the Zapatista youth delegation echoed the overarching sentiment of anger and frustration amongst the shut out crowd.

The march culminated in a showdown between protestors and the police and the steel walls they were protecting. Protestors attacked the wall, wrenching and twisting, slowly disassembling the protective structure. At the same time, they threw water bottle missiles, bricks and sticks at the rows of riot police. One member of the Korean delegation managed to wrestle a shield away from a police officer on the front lines of the makeshift border.

Despite the constant return of debris from the police area and the imposing lines of large vehicles backing up the rows of human shields protestors continued to push forward, anger mounting. With one big push the group overthrew a section of the barricade and moved into the cordoned off area.

It was a triumph that was short lived. Soon afterwards a member of the Korean delegation was impaled and fell to the ground in the center of the struggle. Medics were called in and the crowd dispersed significantly to allow for access. The man, whose name has not been released, was rushed to the Cancun General Hospital. At 6pm, he died from the wounds sustained at the protest.

Delegation members and supporters held a quick memorial ceremony in his honour, moments after the news of his death was released. It is still not confirmed whether the death was an accidental fall or a suicide in protest of the political process taking place in the center of this vacation town.

Issued by the African People's Caucus
10/09/03