CAFOD hires Mexican band to serenade government minister

  CAFOD has hired the Mexican Mariachi band Los Charros, to sing a special song of trade justice to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt, before she heads to Cancun for the World Trade Organisation summit. The band is assembling at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), 1 Victoria Street, London SW1 at 10.30am on Monday, 8 September). CAFOD said in a statement: 'One of the major causes of poverty is an unfair system of global trade rules that damages poor countries. Those rules allow rich countries to support their farmers to the tune of $350 billion per year. This leads to dumping of cheap food on Third World markets and the undermining of poor farmers. 'In Mexico, Maize has been the main source of sustenance for thousands of years. Over the last ten decades, maize imports have nearly tripled, and the price has dropped 64% since 1985. The Mexican countryside has lost 1.7 million jobs. Thousands of Mexicans migrated to the US, many to work in agriculture as undocumented workers without labour guarantees or benefits.' Mexican farmer Abram Castro Trejo said: "We have been unable to compete with cheap imports from the US. The traditional forms of agriculture that dominated in Mexico are now in a state of total neglect. People are leaving the land in droves." CAFOD wants the UK government and Patricia Hewitt to press for reform at the WTO to reflect the needs of developing countries. CAFOD wants the US and EU to agree to massive cuts to their farm subsidies in Cancun. CAFOD's Director Chris Bain will meet with Patricia Hewitt after the band sings their song. Chris Bain said: "If the trading system is to work for the poor, WTO members must seize the moment in Cancun by promoting fairer trade rules. If it is to pass that test, the EU and other powerful WTO members must agree to end the dumping of subsidised food products on developing country markets, a practice which threatens the livelihoods of millions of poor farmers."

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