Tragi-comedy, frustrations, needs and hopes

The plenary on Agriculture, perhaps the liveliest so far, was stunningly provocative. Proposals for rural development and poverty eradication — which only ten years ago were the subversive strategies whispered by visionary peasants and counter cultural NGOs — were validated in this international forum. Still, these strategies will become viable only when local actors are empowered. Jan Pronk, President of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development, handled the question of agricultural subsides brilliantly. These subsidies protect the totally discredited agriculture of the United States, European Union and Japan with its overproduction, pollution and global warming; the $400 billion of subsidy should support the more competitive peasant enterprises of the less developed countries. By questioning the double speak of multilateral organizations and business interests, Pronk called the rich nations to renounce their protectionism and oligopolistic practices. The assembly of several thousand simply began to laugh at the travesty of contemporary ?free trade? capitalism.