Via Alex Knapp
, here's a recap
of the activities of Bureacrash
, a free trade activist group, engaging in counter-protest activities at the latest WTO meeting in Cancun.
For our first "Crash," we targeted the hotel where Heinrich Böll Foundation representatives were staying. We hung fliers on every door. These fliers pointed out that, while Böll representatives were stumping for fair trade, including strict labor standards and high wages, the maids in the hotel were working for the equivalent of $6 a day. The fliers were meant to question whether Böll and other "fair trade" NGO reps had negotiated a higher price for their room, or left a giant tip, or had they merely participated in the exploitation of these poor workers?
I doubt they did any of the above.
Fairness was the overriding concern for the folks marching to the barricades, but no one really knew how to define or achieve it. So we decided to set up a "fair trade soda stand" along the parade route on Saturday. We offered Coke, Sprite, and water to the hot and bothered activists. The catch was that they could choose from two options: the free trade and the fair trade price. The sign for the fair price (20 pesos) explained that the price included the true cost of the drink plus: health care, environmental protections, taxes and other welfareish provisions; while the free trade price (5 pesos) included only the true cost of the beverage.
At first, this enterprise drew a lot of very confused looks and some yelling. But a few customers finally grew thirsty enough to brave the looks the others were shooting at them. We made seven sales -- two at the fair trade price and five at the free trade rate. Just as business was picking up, however, a young lady approached us, read the sign, and promptly threw a hissy fit.
"You can’t be here; you’re misrepresenting what fair trade is! It doesn’t involve products from multi-national corporations; you have to have local diversity!" she seethed, while clutching her Sony Handycam.
Pretty funny stuff.
I'm all for any group that makes a concerted effort to point out the inanity and hypocrisy of others, especially if they have fun with it.