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ow of the WTO and the IMF began to loom over UNCTAD. When the tenth UNCTAD meeting convened in Bangkok in February 2000, Michel Camdessus, Managing Director of the IMF, appeared as an honored guest. His scheduled speech bode ill for the Group of 77 and their progressive trade agenda. Although Mr. Camdessus said “poverty was the greatest concern of our time,” and added that the “widening gaps between the most affluent and most impoverished nations were morally outrageous?’ many could not help but notice that the IMF had engineered the gaps and that its continuing austerity programs would make them wider still. Around the world, economists agreed that the fiscal policies imposed by the IMF on Brazil, Russia, South Korea, and Indonesia during the late 1990s had pushed these countries over the edge into crisis, with soaring poverty rates. The encroachment of the IMF into UNCTAD territory was especially alarming. It meant that the one forum where Third World countries could influence the agenda faced an incursion. A group of new insurgents emerged to beat it back: Bakers Without Borders burst out of the crowd at Bangkok and landed a pie on the face of Mr. Camdessus shortly before he pronounced his institution one of “the best friends of the poor?’ and the guerrilla campaign to save UNCTAD from the IMF and the World Trade Organization began. Bakers Without Borders are fighting an insurgent ground war against the “titans of industry?’ They call themselves “revolutionary bakers and pie-slingers [who] have achieved in short order what can truly be called a Global Pastry Uprising the most serious problem faced by the titans and their gofers at the Bank and the Fund. When the finance ministers of the WTO countries met in Cancun last September, negotiations over trade rules broke down over contentious issues, and protestors had to be shooed away by the Armed Forces. Despite warm letters of support and encouragement for the ministers from Mr. Camdessus’ successor at the IMF, Horst Kohler, and his counterpart, James Wolfensohn, at the World Bank, the ministers went home without a deal. This lack of progress on the global domination front discouraged the titans, and so they set their sights on the next UNCTAD meeting, which convened this past June in Sao Paulo, Brazil. At first glance, Sao Paulo did not seem an ideal site to launch a titan takeover. Brazil elected a progressive President in November, 2002. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva now presents Brazil on the world stage as a champion for developing poor countries and has attempted to shame rich countries into opening up agricultural trade. Under Lula the Brazilians are taking a more active role across South America, and the country is seeking a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Still, the titans let Lula know who remains in charge and what their priorities are: the Bush administration sent Robert Zoellick, the U.S. trade representative who negotiates at the WTO, to Lula’s inauguration. Consequently, there have been danger signs from Lula, too. Brazil, with the new President’s benediction, agreed to an IMF stranglehold on the national economy, forcing the country to meet a budget surplus target of 4.25 percent. To head the Central Bank of Brazil, Lula chose Henrique de Campos Mereilles, President of BankBoston and FleetBoston’s Global Bank. Social programs could be in trouble and cuts in the pension system appear likely in order to keep up the country’s debt payments. And in January, 2003, Lula spoke to the Bankers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Back home, this was not well received. At a news conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Bakers without Borders attacked. Lula’s political party president, Jose Genoino, took a cream pie in the face, launched by the local cadre, Confeiteiros Sem Fronteiras. And so there was tension at UNCTAD last month. Would President Lula save the Group of 77 or would the nasty stepsisters ride away with the prince? The results were ambiguous. At the close of the meeting, the delegates issued the “Spirit of Sao Paulo” declaration, which, on the one hand, endorsed the last round of WTO negotiations, held in Doha, Qatar: “Multilateral trade negotiations, under the Doha Work Program, should be accelerated with a view to an early and successful conclusion that fully respects the level of ambition referred to at Doha…measures to ensure longterm debt sustainability of developing countries should also continue to be subject to serious consideration and appropriate action.” Development will continue to be held hostage to debt payments, and UNCTAD has adopted the commercial language of the WTO. But on the other hand, the Spirit of Sao Paulo included whispers of independence. It recognized the importance of market regulation by governments, of social inclusion and a decrease in inequality. It also asserted that national governments must maintain the right to enact policies that promote development, even if these policies oppose the trade rules of the WTO. The battle is not yet lost. At UNCTAD, at least, resistance is still alive. As the delegates from non-governmental organizations lined up for admittance to the conference room where Lula was to speak, his security people seemed to know it. They feared that his original constituency might stage an ambush with the cameras rolling. Additional screeners suddenly appeared, seizing bags and briefcases, even after all baggage had passed through x-ray machines and metal detectors. Everyone had to face these new specialists, who wore gloves and took their time, squeezing and squashing everything in sight. Even large hats appeared to be suspect. “They’re looking for pies,” the Brazilians explained. Even everyone’s favorite Halloween charity, UNICEF, is now more of a trick than a treat. Gabriela Bocagrande is based in Washington, D.C. 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7/16 /04