PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil -- Organizers expect 60,000 people to participate at the
Social Forum here, an anti-globalization gathering starting Thursday to coincide
with the World Economic Forum in New York.
In meetings and dialogue, participants are to develop alternatives to the march
of free-trade globalization they say favors rich nations and threatens the world's
A host of seminars is planned to develop strategy that goes beyond one-time
protests such as the massive and destructive demonstration that hit Seattle in
1999 during a meeting of the World Trade Organization.
It is possible "to bring several hundred disparate organizations together to
reflect on alternative proposals through dialogue," said forum coordinator Candido
Under the slogan "changing the world is possible," the forum seeks to tackle
the world economy, the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the
Argentine economic crisis and world peace.
"The shipwreck of Argentina is a real example of the ravages of economic liberalization,"
said Bernard Cassen, whose association favors a world tax on financial transations
to help the poor.
Argentina declared the biggest default in history last month, suspending payments
on its massive foreign debt after nearly four years of recession.
The star of the Porto Alegre forum, taking place as business and financial
leaders convene in New York for the World Economic Forum starting Thursday, is
French activist Jose Bove.
He said the Porto Alegre gathering, now in its second-straight year, had established
its legitimacy in drawing a great number of politicians to Brazil.
"Nowadays it is the politicians who are asking to understand," said Bove, who
founded a French anti-globalization group that last year joined a march by activists
that culminated in the destruction of genetically modified products in a laboratory
south of Porto Alegre owned by US agribusiness giant Monsanto.
Security was boosted this year amid fears of street violence and reports of
death threats received by members of the leftist Brazilian Workers' party.
Military Police Colonel Ilson de Oliveira said the police presence would be
four times the size of last year, and deputy state governor Miguel Rossetto warned
there would be zero tolerance for violence of any kind.
Porto Alegre Mayor Tarso Genro, in a joint press conference Tuesday with Spanish
judge Baltasar Garzon, said the forum had rejected requests from groups with terrorist
links who sought to participate, including the Basque separatist group ETA.
Copyright © 2002 AFP