My lack of conference accreditation and organizational support limited my accessibility in Cancun. I could only afford to go for a portion of the conference. Security was heavy in the entire hotel zone. The mix of touristy Cancun and the strong presence of Mexican military/police was an odd scene. I was surprised and a bit unnerved by the amount of machine guns. No one was allowed access to public transportation that went anywhere near the main convention center without accreditation and in some areas men with guns were spaced about 20 ft from each other as far as the eye could see – sometimes even camouflaged in the bushes. The official venue was at a hotel resort called Moon Palace and most protesters without passes just lines the streets at Cancun Messe where an expo was taking place. To stay at the Moon Palace you needed to either be a delegate or have a official letter from your government.
Ten years is a long time. COP 6 was a different animal logistically from COP16 in many ways. Sadly many of the discussion points however are the same. I’m still processing the ways in which these conferences now function. Protesters, delegates, businessman seemed to me existed in separate bubbles.
Given that I was more interested in catching people in off moments. I decided it wasn’t worthwhile to be amongst the protesters given my project. Through a lot of trial an error (including behaving like a sound paparazzi) I was able to get access to some side events. My experiments were limited to side events such as Forest Day, Climate Village, and stalking in the hotel zone/various hotels, at bodegas, the street, and outside the World Climate Summit at the Ritz Carlton. Due to security at these events and in the street it was often hard to get video of my experiments. Most of the men with machine guns did not take kindly to having a camera in the vicinity.
I knew going alone without the support of an organization would make things harder for me in terms of opportunities and access to larger audience but I had no idea how tight security would really be…