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center proved to be a significant cell in the collective brain that drove the many marches, forums, and performance pieces the globalphobes mounted during this match-up of brawn and wits. Across the palm-lined boulevard from the campesinos’ encampment, hundreds of student activists pitched their tents in the local baseball stadium, creating an instant city under the night lights. The ideologues held forth at the Forum of the People, an extension of the annual Porto Alegre coming-together, where intellectuals delivered weighty papers about the sad state of the world. I myself spoke in a cock-fighting arena, seeking to connect the dots between free trade and Bush’s genocidal war in Iraq \(“Iraq, On the opening day of the WTO’s fifth ministerial, the farmers marched, drawing together behind and in front of them the rainbow of constituencies that had gathered in Cancun to voice their disapproval of the shameful shenanigans five miles down the road. But with 1,500 Mexican Federal robocops on the barricades and a reported 15,000 more lurking in the shrubbery, armed to the teeth as they were with their water cannons, tanks, and abundant tear gas, it did not at all look like the activist hordes were going to get near the class enemy. But bridging such distances requires an outside and an inside strategy. Inside the opening session, as Mexico, the official host, welcomed the delegates in the great auditorium, 50 NGO reps rose up, pulled out signs decrying the WTO, and shouting “shame, shame,” they stomped out. Meanwhile, at the other end of Kukulkan Boulevard, the nation of Seattle marched under a scorching sun to the beat of samba bands, conga drums, conch shell trumpets, and the glorious brass banda from Tlayacapan, Morelos. Greenies wearing dolphin heads crooned “Guantanamera,” and the Koreans banged on gongs. For the Korean delegation September 10 was a meaningful date the Sang Yeo, or their day of the dead, a moment in which to honor the ancestors, mourn the recently demised, and sow the seeds of new life. The dismal health of Korean agricul ture, wracked by an onslaught of “free trade” imports, has driven many farmers to suicide, wrote the former director of the Korean Advanced Farmers Union Lee Kyung Hai, describing his sorrow at not being unable to save a fellow farmer from taking his life with a dose of toxic chemicals because he had fallen so deeply in debt. “I was powerless to do anything but hear the howling of my friend’s wife.” To his despair, he had watched Korean rice paddies being paved over for super highways, Mister Lee had written last April. Embittered by these prospects, Lee Kyung Hai had come to Cancun to vent his rage at the WTO only to be frustrated by the police barriers that kept him miles away. To dramatize their crusade, the Korean delegation had created a colorful Sang Yeo tapestry of intricately folded papers they had encased in a well-fortified wooden structure they labeled “the WTO’s coffin,” and which they now used as a battering ram to bring down the large metal fences erected by the Federal Police, really a crack Mexican Army unit. Although the fence shook tremulously \(it would eventually come down in a fierce scuffle that involved withstood the Korean assault. Then suddenly Mister Lee was climbing the barrier with a hand-lettered hunk of cardboard around his neck that read “The WTO Kills Farmers,” his comrades circling below him in a forceful, somber procession. I saw him up there, framed against a “Welcome to Cancun” highway sign and then I saw him fall. I could not see that Mister Lee had plunged a dagger into his heart until we ran the tape at the media center a few hours later. By that time, Lee Kyung Hai, 56, was DOA at Cancun General Hospital. What came immediately to my windscreen were the now ancient images of Buddhist monks in Vietnam, setting themselves aflame to inform the world of the terrible repression in their land. News of Mister Lee’s death spread like wildfire through the nation of Seattle encamped in Cancun and hundreds gathered outside the hospital with candles.The Koreans sat in uniform lotus positions, chanting mournful warrior songs to Mister Lee’s memory. Mexican farmers came and sang “Horizontes,” cide is not unknown among campesinos here. When members of the Korean delegation to the WTO appeared to sign papers and pay their respects to Mister Lee’s companions, they were angrily told to break off negotiations and go home. “How can you negotiate in this moment of pain?” one of the dead farmer’s comrades snarled. Back up the road in the sanitized splendor of the Convention Center, no one could quite believe that farmers were killing themselves because they had no other way to address their grievances. The WTO press office, seeking to wash the organization’s hands in the event of a mass suicide of globalphobes, insisted it had nothing at all to do with this poor man’s “self-inflicted” death. Assistant U.S. Trade Rep Peter Allgeier conceded he was touched “by this extreme step,” but reaffirmed that Washington would not alter its trade policies because of it. “My country is dedicated to providing a better way of life for millions of the world’s farmers,” he lied. Then, abruptly, a handful of Greenpeace activists burst into the press conference, flinging corn everywhere and demanding an end to the production of transgenic maize. Later in the day, NGO reps and conscientious members of the press would stage a solemn march through the convention center and construct an altar to Mister Lee with flickering candle wax and white petals and signs that pleaded “respect for Lee Kyung Hai’s struggle.” “The WTO Kills Farmers,” it said right there inside the belly of the beast. Mister Lee had finally conquered the barrier that kept him from the WTO. In the days that followed, Mister Lee would come again and again to the WTO. Demonstrators would penetrate the barrier posing as turistas and dance directly in front of the convention cen ter, blocking traffic on the hotel zone’s busiest boulevard for three hours at Friday night rush hour. And on Saturday, September 13, a day of protest on which many feared the dread barbarians of the black bloc would opt for total chaos, continued on page 29 10/10103 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17