PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil - The World Social Forum drew
to a close Tuesday in this southern Brazilian city with an
''appeal for mobilisation,'' indicating that the mosaic of ideas
and struggles of thousands of civil society organisations is
beginning to coalesce.
The Porto Alegre Appeal for Mobilisation, signed by
representatives of 144 organisations from around the world,
summarises the ideas and proposals adopted by consensus during six
days of debate.
The document is an exhortation to fight ''the hegemony of
finance, the destruction of our cultures, the monopolisation of
knowledge and of the mass communications media, the degradation of
nature and the destruction of quality of life.''
These negative actions, according to the text, are carried out
''by transnational corporations and anti-democratic policies.''
Delegates to this first-ever World Social Forum, a global
gathering of trade unions, social movements, non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) and progressive-minded intellectuals decided
that the event will be held in Porto Alegre again next year.
French anti-globalization activist Jose Bove celebrates with a crowd after a federal judge granted over-ruled an order to expel him from the country, in Porto Alegre January 30, 2001. Bove was ordered to leave Brazil or face deportation after a raid on a Monsanto bio-tech farm in southern Brazil. A judge overruled the Federal Police order, allowing Bove to remain in the country until the end of the anti-Davos global forum with non-governmental organizations. REUTERS/Jamil Bittar
In 2003, however, the Forum will be organised for some other
location, one that has the best possible conditions, announced
Kjeld Jakobsen, leader of Brazil's Sole Central of Workers and one
of this year's event organisers.
The date will continue to coincide with the World Economic
Forum of Davos, Switzerland, which draws political, financial and
corporate leaders together each year, usually in January.
The delegates in Porto Alegre are promoting the organisation of
additional, regional social forums, to be spearheaded by local
The signatories of the Appeal demand ''the unconditional
cancellation'' of the foreign debt for the nations of the
developing South, along with reparations for ''the historic,
social and ecological debts'' of the wealthy countries.
The text states that international financial transactions must
be taxed in order to contain speculation, and that the global
trade system must ensure full employment, food security and fair
terms of exchange.
Meanwhile, the world's borders must be opened for the free
circulation of peoples, instead of just for merchandise and money,
as is the current case, agreed the civil society organisations.
Among the demands of rural workers and small farm owners, the
document calls for a democratic agrarian reform, and states that
land, water and seeds must be put in the hands of the peasants. It
also demands a ban on the use of genetically modified organisms
and of patents on life forms.
Facing heavy criticism from the World Social Forum participants
was 'Plan Colombia,' President Andrés Pastrana's anti-drug trade
initiative for his country.
The Appeal for Mobilisation indicates that the plan represents
United States intervention in Latin America, and signatories
reached a consensus in condemning military action as a way to
The document expresses solidarity with indigenous and African
peoples, and states that without equality among men and women,
activists will not be able to create ''another possible world,''
the theme of the Forum.
These positions will serve to unite ''the fragments of our
struggle,'' commented Cándido Grzybowski, director of the
Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis, a member of
the Forum's National Organising Committee.
In reality, the ''Porto Alegre Appeal'' does not constitute a
final declaration approved by all social forces present at the
The meeting was not deliberative and a single final document
would be ''impoverished in its attempt to synthesise the diversity
of ideas and proposals'' that were expressed in the 400 workshops
and 16 panels that constituted the first World Social Forum,
Grzybowski pointed out.
The Appeal outlines the anti-globalisation protests that are to
occur this year. The first is slated for the February 26-27
meeting of the World Economic Forum in Cancún, Mexico.
The NGOs are to convene protests for international trade
forums, just as has occurred since late 1999, when massive street
actions in the US city of Seattle contributed to the failure of
the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial conference to
launch a new round of global trade talks.
Demonstrations are likewise planned against the Free Trade Area
of the Americas (FTAA) - to cover the hemisphere from Alaska to
Tierra del Fuego - during negotiations April 6 and 7 in Buenos
Aires, and April 17 to 22 in Quebec, Canada.
The Asian Development Bank will be the target in May, followed
by meetings of the Group of 8 wealthiest nations, the
International Monetary Fund, World Bank and WTO in subsequent
months, in cities ranging from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Genoa, to
The ''Mosaic of the Citizens,'' a collective work of art based
on an idea by sculptor Eric Theret and sociologist Pierre Vuarin,
both from France, serves as the symbol of the beginning of
consolidation among diverse groups of social, political and
The mosaic, which is taking shape at the entrance of a
buildings at the Catholic University, the site of the Forum, is a
circle of stones with inscriptions that range from the names of
participating organisations to slogans in an array of languages.
There are already some 500 stones of various sizes in place,
and the work will remain on public display in Porto Alegre. The
mosaic is to continue receiving new stones, making it an endless
construction, as is the contribution and articulation of ideas,
experiences and proposals that occurred during the Forum,
This first World Social Forum surpassed all predictions for
attendance, with more than 20,000 people participating - twice
what was forecast -, which created several operational problems,
according to organisers.
Delegates from officially participating organisations numbered
4,702, compared to the 2,700 expected.
Covering the six-day meeting were 1,870 accredited journalists
from 51 countries, 20.6 percent representing international
At the same time, Porto Alegre hosted 2,000 people at an
international youth camp, 700 at an Indigenous Nations camp, and
436 delegates from 27 countries for the World Parliamentary Forum.
Copyright 2001 IPS