CPE and Via Campesina excluded from a meeting with Pascal Lamy

17 October 2005, Geneva, Switzerland

Today, a delegation from CPE/Via Campesina comprised of Carlos Marentes, Ingeborg Tangeraas and Young-Soo Lee arrived at the WTO headquarters in Geneva to participate in a planned meeting with the Director General of WTO, Pascal Lamy. The meeting had been coordinated by Worldwide Wildlife Federation International with an expected participation of around 20 people. Almost all the other participants who planned to meet with Director Lamy were representing development and environmental non-governmental organizations.

Young-Soo Lee was not allowed to enter the WTO building ‘for security reasons’; they said that his name and his translator’s were not on the registration list. LaVia Campesina delegation then decided to boycott the meeting if Mr. Lee was denied access. However, the non-governmental organizations decided to enter the meeting. Also representatives of a fisherfolk organization did not manage to enter the talks.

A group of LaVia Campesina members waited outside the building until the meeting was over, so they could express their anger to the NGOs which have appointed themselves to speak to the international institutions and governments on behalf of the poor and on behalf of the peasants of the world. This incident is one more concrete example of the tense relations that exist between  La Vía Campesina and some NGOs and movements regarding the roles they play, the issues that should be given priority and the best strategy to follow when representing the interests of peasants in the world. One of the key issues at the meeting was agriculture, but no farmers were represented.

La Via Campesina is a legitimate voice of small farmers, indigenous peasants and migrant rural workers. For many years, La Via Campesina members have been impacted by the decisions made by the WTO, were confronted with WTO positions, and have listened to the statements of negotiators. Today presented an opportunity for Director Lamy to hear from three representatives of the worldwide peasant movement on issues as migration, starvation and the increasing gap between rich and poor people. We also wanted to urge Lamy not to buy out small countries to get access to their market and to respect the lack of agreement in Geneva. However, Mr. Lamy did not meet with us and did not get this information from the millions of peasants of the world.

La Via Campesina will have a strong presence in Hong Kong and will mobilize with the goal to stop the WTO negotiating process. The impacts and consequences of ten years of WTO should be carefully and fully analyzed, and WTO should not be allowed to continue this proven failed direction.