Class divide evident in & outside UN climate talks in Cancun


WMNF, Cancun, Mexico

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The United Nations climate change talks in Cancun are taking place in a high security fortress called Moon Palace in an exclusive beachfront resort area but as WMNF's Kelly Benjamin reports, there are 2 sides of Cancun in and outside the UN talks.

Cancun, Mexico is famous as a sun and fun vacation destination for US tourists. Sparkling luxury hotels and elite resorts with fine dining restaurants and multiple swimming pools blanket the coastline where the picturesque Caribbean waves hit the white sand. But few tourists venture past the hotel district to the other cancun, where the majority of the vast majority of the population lives.

Our salary for one day is five dollars. All the day, working like eight or ten hours.

That's Maru Garcia, she's the head maid in an all inclusive hotel in the zona hotelera or the hotel zone that spreads across a narrow strip of land between the beach and lagoona nichupte, a lagoon that effectively divides the rich and the poor.

Of yes, it separates the people living here, it's to separate the people living here, it's too different. The hotels are for people coming to Cancun, it's not for people living here. The prices are too high for us.

Valentina Martinez is the President of the Mexican Network of Environmental Journalists

Cancun is a really young city, it originated for touristic purposes, that's why it was built to have all these hotels, 5 star hotels, not thinking of Mexican users. It was mostly international tourism that they wanted to attract to this place. So, I'm not surprised.

Martinez says it's not right that some of the best beaches in Mexico are reserved for the rich.

How can I say this...It can be insulting...

The divide between the rich and poor is a familiar theme during the UN climate change talks in Cancun and is as evident outside the UN talks as it is inside as developing nations attempt to negotiate with industrialized nations for a fair deal to tackle climate change. Abdul Ganiyu Labinjo is a climate negotiator from Nigeria.

As you can see, it's very obvious the developed nations are not being extremely committed and sincere as far as I'm concerned...

Labinjo says that developing nations are feeling the effects of climate change but it is the rich nations that created the bulk of greenhouse gasses that are causing climate change...

It goes without saying...

Labinjo's sentiment is echoed with by other developing nations. Peter Tujay is a negotiator from Sierra Leone.

Especially for developing countries, they've [developed nations] got to take leadership on this whole issue. Because if we look at the arguments, they are the ones that actually started...they should be held responsible for the climate change problem that we have right now. And if they should act up to their responsibility as current leaders on global actions, then obviously they should put their mouth where their money see, if anything goes wrong to this global farce, all of us will suffer, and those that will suffer worse are developing nations.

International negotiations on tackling climate change will continue next week in hopes of a solid agreement.

Meanwhile for Maru Garcia, the head maid in an opulent Cancun resort, life goes on.

It's like a big hole. You say we are divided between the rich and the poor? Oh, yes...yes.

From Cancun, Mexico, this is Kelly Benjamin for WMNF News...

Kelly Benjamin is a fellow with Earth Journalism News. Tune in next week for his continued daily coverage of the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Cancun.

Previous WMNF coverage of COP16