Utopia: Social Forum Declares 'Together We Are the 99%'

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Common Dreams

Utopia: Social Forum Declares 'Together We Are the 99%'

Thematic Social Forum 2012: Capitalist Crisis: Social and Environmental Justice

by
Common Dreams staff

Another world is possible.

This well-known message is coming out of Porto Alegre, Brazil this week as the "Thematic Social Forum" takes place, in stark contrast to the events of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Tierramérica reports:

The Thematic Social Forum taking place Jan. 24-29 in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre will bring together representatives of social movements and organisations from around the world to prepare for their participation in the UN summit to be held Jun. 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro.

The meeting in Porto Alegre is one of the many local forums or gatherings addressing a specific theme that are linked to the World Social Forum (WSF) and take place in even-numbered years. The WSF itself is now held every two years.

Agence France-Presse reports that 15,000 took part in the opening of the forum while Diario Octubre reports that the number was closer to 30,000.

Agence France-Presse reports on the message of the "indignados" and the Occupy movement being present at the forum:

"Together we are 99 percent" of the world's people, compared to the one percent of the rich, many signs read, echoing sentiments of the Occupy Wall Street protests. [...]

Participants including members of Spain's "Indignant" movement and the US Occupy Wall Street, are meeting in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre to weigh alternative solutions to the global economic crisis. [...]

Under the slogan "Capitalist Crisis, Social and Environmental Justice," the forum aims to lay the groundwork for a peoples' summit of social movements to be held in parallel to the high-level UN conference on sustainable development scheduled for June in Rio. [...]

"The forum was born to challenge the arrogance of the neo-liberals in Davos. We said clearly that we wanted another world. Now we must build the ways, the alternatives," forum coordinator Candido Grzybowski told AFP this week.

It is finding these alternatives that this forum is tasked with. Diario Octubre writes that one criticism of the World Social Forum is that it has provided a vital space for thought about alternatives but has not focused on the actual production of the alternatives. But this "Thematic Social Forum" will be tasked with finding alternatives and supporting the worldwide mobilizations to the "systemic crisis" we face and that this "challenge is enormous."

In this short video, AFPTV hears from the Mayor of Porto Alegre on the Social Forum:

The message of the 99% is present at the World Economic Forum in Davos as well.

The Associated Press reports that Occupy-affiliated activists, Greenpeace and Amnesty International have protested at the Davos forum, slamming the meetings for focusing on the 1%.

Some protesters sent a message via a banner held by floating red balloons that read: “Hey WEF, where are the other 6.9999 billion leaders?”

“This is a man-made crisis and the people who have caused the crisis, many of whom are in Davos, should be held to account. The problems have been caused by one bunch of people and the consequences are being paid twice over by the people who are poor and marginalized," Salil Shetty, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, told the Associated Press.

Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International, brought his message to a group in Davos’s main square. "The people at the World Economic Forum, whether we like it or not, are those that represent global economic and political power. We have to push them harder and harder than ever before, to get them to make the transition to a low-carbon green economy.”

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