The Other Cancun

| March 26, 2001

The Other Cancun

Mexican president Vicente Fox, eager to advance the cause of corporate globalization, addressed business executives and government officials from 30 countries at a February 26-27 regional meeting of the World Economic Forum in Cancun. Meanwhile, activists outside the luxurious Westin Regina Hotel (which was fortified by 2,000 police and military personnel) showed the media a different side of this once-idyllic Caribbean resort town, reports Canadian journalist John Ross in Now Magazine, Toronto's alternative weekly.

After taking a 'reality tour' of the slums on Cancun's swampy outskirts, Ross had this to say: 'Cancun is itself a snapshot of how corporate globalization operates in the underdeveloped world. Built by transnational capital and studded with posh international hotels, it caters almost exclusively to foreign tourists, mostly young North Americans.'

'Meanwhile,' Ross adds, 'far from the gleaming hotel district, tens of thousands of Mayan Indian maids and day labourers occupy swampland squatter settlements lacking city services. As a magnet for employment, Cancun draws its workforce from the surrounding Yucatan peninsula, shredding the social fabric of life in its Mayan villages as dramatically as it wreaks havoc upon a once paradisiacal Caribbean coastal environment.'
--Leif Utne
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For an interesting contrast, check out 'Cuban Impressions,' a recent report by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman on returning from their first trip to the island nation, published in the political webzine Eat the State. Cuba has steadfastly kept the effects of corporate globalization at bay for 40 years, but as it's tourism industry grows, that is rapidly changing. 'Walking by the hip clubs in Havana's Vedado neighborhood,' they write, 'one can feel the magnetic pull of the corporate culture on kids who have little way of understanding the very dramatic sacrifices their society would have to make were Versace and Nike goods to become freely available.'
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