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Protesters flock to Cancun for WTO summit
( 2003-09-09 13:48) (Agencies)

Anti-globalization protesters stripped out of their clothes and spelled out the words "No WTO" with their naked bodies Monday, the first of several actions against the World Trade Organization meeting in this Caribbean resort.

Nude anti-globalization protesters spell 'No A La OMC' (No To The WTO) during a protest against the upcoming WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico, Monday, Sept 8, 2003.  [AP]
A mix of radical activists, farmers and labor rights promoters have planned a week of protests to show the harmful effects of free trade and growing corporate domination. Demonstrators say Cancun, whose miles of white-sand beaches are mostly hidden behind high-rise hotels, is a good example of increasing private control.

"This is a rejection of the WTO ... and the symbolic reclaiming of our beaches, using the only weapons we have left, our bodies," said a member of the Direct Action Network, the group that organized the protest. He identified himself only as Abraham, and refused to give his last name because he feared reprisals.

A policeman scanned the protest through binoculars, but didn't try to stop it. Indecent exposure is banned on Cancun's beaches.

The protest took place at Playa Langosta, a public beach that breaks the wall of hotels lining the Cancun peninsula.

The 29 activists lay head-to-toe in the fine sand to spell out "No WTO," first in Spanish and then in English. News photographers swarmed and jockeyed for the best shots.

"I think it is kind of exciting," said one of the participants, Jeff Duritz of Boston, Mass., who has attended protests against the WTO and the International Monetary Fund in the past. "This is a mix of Mexican nationals, North Americans and Europeans, all coming together in the same protests."

Many of the laughing, sand-covered protesters demanded that Mexican President Vicente Fox come and roll on the beach naked.

"I'm staying here until Fox comes to talk with us," one man shouted.

After they rinsed off in Cancun's crystalline waters, the protesters also complained about the nickname the Mexican government has given them: "globafobicos," literally, "globalization phobics."

"I'm not phobic about anything," Duritz said. "We like meeting other cultures, the Internet, international cinema. But what we object to is a corporate-driven globalization."

Protesters say 2,000 Mexican farmers and Zapatista rebel sympathizers from the southern state of Chiapas are expected to arrive over the next day in a bus caravan.

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