News Release

* Arafat in Exile? * WTO in Cancun

ADAM SHAPIRO
Shapiro is an activist and organizer with the International Solidarity Movement based in Washington, D.C. In March, 2002 he entered Yasser Arafat’s presidential compound escorting an ambulance during the Israeli siege of Ramallah and ended up trapped inside under attack with President Arafat and over 300 men by Israeli forces. Shapiro spent the first two years of the current Intifada working with Palestinians using nonviolent resistance to the occupation. Shapiro, who is Jewish, is now barred from entering Israel or the occupied territories. During the month of July, Shapiro was in occupied Iraq working on a documentary.
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WTO in Cancun

The World Trade Organization meetings, continuing the “Doha round,” are proceeding in Cancun, Mexico. On Wednesday, demonstrators disrupted the opening ceremony, and Korean farmer Lee Kyung-Hae committed suicide on the barricades that kept the public out of the WTO meeting site. Large protests are planned for Saturday; the meetings are scheduled to end Sunday night. Information about continuing events in Cancun is available at: www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/cancun.

ANGELA STACH
Originally from Germany, Stach is a media coordinator for Via Campesina, the international group of peasants and farmer organizations which is organizing marches and forums in Cancun. The group issued a statement: “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 the WTO has adopted. Our hearts mourn the death of our fellow farmer, Lee Kyung-Hae, who in an act of desperation ended his own life. This act … proves even more that the WTO means death, sorrow, and impotence. One more time we flatly and emphatically demand that the WTO take the Agricultural Agreement out of its agenda….”
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SOREN AMBROSE
JOHN BELL
A senior policy analyst with 50 Years Is Enough, Ambrose is attending the WTO meetings in Cancun. He is in constant contact with analysts and activists from around the world gathering there. Accompanying Ambrose is Bell, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, currently with ACT-UP Philadelphia, who is protesting WTO and U.S. government policies that restrict access to AIDS drugs.
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IRUNGU HOUGHTON
SAM BARRATT
Pan Africa policy advisor for Oxfam International, Houghton is based in his home country of Kenya. Currently in Cancun, he said today: “Two days into the negotiations, developing countries have reduced the traditional U.S.-E.U. axis to a series of early confrontations around the effects of northern subsidies and tariffs on poor people’s livelihoods…” Barratt is Oxfam International’s spokesperson.
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ROBIN HAHNEL
Hahnel is professor of economics at American University and author of Panic Rules! Everything You Need to Know About the Global Economy and The ABCs of Political Economy. He said today: “The first problem is that while the WTO claims to be only about promoting mutually beneficial trade, it is more about compelling Third World countries to agree to enforce international copyrights like drug patents and to promise not to treat international investors in their economies any differently than domestic producers — or else be excluded from world trade altogether. The second problem is the WTO has been much more successful at forcing Third World countries to lower their tariffs than forcing First World countries to lower their tariffs. The third problem is that even if all tariffs and subsidies were eliminated in all countries, contrary to popular opinion this would not create a level playing field since free trade at free market prices systematically distributes the lion’s share of the global efficiency gain from specialization and trade to the more advanced economies, thereby widening the gap between the haves and the havenots.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167