Just watched a great segment on Democracy Now!  Watch the full segment here:  WTO Chief Pascal Lamy:  Free Trade and Independence Help Promote Freedom, Human Rights and Civil Liberties.

Ten years ago this week, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Seattle, WA to shut down WTO ministerial meetings and prevent further negative impacts of the organization’s neoliberal trade agenda.  Protesters succeeded in the former, but not in the later.

Yesterday, the WTO convened again in Geneva, Switzerland for its seventh ministerial meeting and a new push at a global free trade treaty.  Investigate journalist Greg Palast went to Geneva to interview WTO Chief Pascal Lamay.

While Lamay insists that open trade and interdependence between nations promotes freedom, human rights, and civil liberties, Palast challenges this picture.

Recently, the EU and U.S. have secretly been using the WTO to demand that emerging economies open their borders to trade in things like financial services, derivatives and credit default swaps.  Why would developing countries want to open their economies to toxic assets of the West?  Because if they don’t (or if they do and change their mind in an effort to protect themselves in circumstances like the recent U.S. stock market crash), they can expect to face massive penalties.

For example, if Ecuador tried to bar U.S. banks, under WTO rules, the U.S. can retaliate by imposing tarriffs on every single Ecuadorian-produced banana, easily ruining the entire Ecuadorian economy.

Martin Kohr, Executive Director of the South Centre–“defender of 51 banana exporting and other poor nations”–claims it’s time for the U.S. to learn a few lessons itself, lay off the developing countries, and fix its own domestic financial markets before trying to force replication of a “dysfunctional” model on the rest of the world.

Hope you’ll watch the full segment!