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Reference
Mbali, Mandisa  (2005)  Reports from the WSF . Centre for Civil Society : -.

Summary


by Mandisa Mbali

The WSF is a manifestation of the anti-globalization movement bringing people from all over the world together for one long weekend of work and play.
www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/index.php



Final Update from the World Social Forum
by Mandisa Mbali in Porto Alegre

The World Social Forum ended yesterday. It's amazing how quickly the city is emptying. I spent much of Saturday and Sunday (the last two days of seminars and meetings at the Forum) attending African Social Forum meetings. A big highlight was hearing Hugo Chavez speak. The end of the Forum has also given me time to reflect on the Forum as a whole, and I wish to share with you some of my overall observations.

On Saturday I attended the African Tribunal of Women, where African women and women of African descent from the diaspora spoke about injustices they face. This tribunal followed a similar format to the one which was held at the African Social Forum meeting in Lusaka: a format where several women would give testimony under different themes followed by comment from the panel of judges (also civil society members). There was patchy translation in places, particularly from Portuguese to English (and vice versa), but there were a few presentations which were particularly interesting.

For instance, a Haitian activist from a rogressive women's organisation described how despite Haitian women's role in the Haitian revolution to end slavery and colonialism, two centuries later their livelihoods have not improved. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and the International Financial Institutions dictate the economic policies Haiti adopts. The neoliberalism they impose on Haiti means that women cannot access hospitals in the country, most of which are private and demand
payment for services. This in turn means that many women in Haiti cannot access antenatal services, resulting in a high maternal and infant mortality rate. Drinking water is scarce in Haiti and there is insufficient irrigation. Haiti's environment has been destroyed and there is soil erosion which makes subsistence agriculture difficult.

While this Haitian activist did not directly discuss Aristide's recent
ousting, it is clear that the country is still in a great deal of violent
turmoil: children have to dodge gunshots on their way to school and armed
gangsters, including adolescents kill, rape and rob the population. The
harshness of the struggle to survive in Haiti leads to Haitian women
emigrating to other countries such as the United States and the Dominican
Republic where they face racism, exploitation, xenophobia and if they are
illegal immigrants constant threat of deportation.

In the face of such difficulties Haitian women are still engaging in advocacy and organising themselves "as black women who live in a developing country with a right to self-determination": a statement which was clearly critiquing French and American meddling in the country's affairs.

A Kenyan activist from a group called Muvangano Wa Wanavijiji (Federation of Slum-dwellers) described how government housing schemes in Kenya gave houses to those who could already afford them without government assistance. This led the slum dwellers to establish a savings scheme (with some contributions as low as one Kenyan shilling) to build a house and each participant volunteers to provide labour for building one day a week. The scheme has to date built four such houses for its members.

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)currently being negotiated between African countries and the European Union will also further entrench the everyday misery for poor people in Africa. An activist from SEATINI a trade
justice group complained that they will rob African countries of revenue
from customs duty, which could be used to protect domestic industry and
products. African countries such as Kenya primarily export primary
commodities such as coffee and the inequalities in the coffee trade are
stark: whereas coffee growers will only receive US$0,22 per gram of coffee,
a cup of coffee can cost up to US$3 at a coffee shop in rich countries.
Most of the profit goes to 'middle men' in rich countries such as Nestle,
Kraft et al who roast, package and market coffee. This activist mentioned
to me that ideally African countries would add value to and package their
raw commodities into finished products and that tariffs could be a means
towards protecting infant industries which could be established to do this.

On Sunday, I attended a meeting to discuss Africa's hosting of the World Social Forum in 2007, which has been ratified by the International Council governing the Forum. It was clear from attending the meeting that there may be intense debates developing over who will host the Forum meeting to be held in Africa. While it is rumoured that the Morocco Social Forum has been lobbying the international council very hard to host the 2007 Forum, some questioning of this proposal is already emerging. For example, Neil Coleman of COSATU argued that the venue should be chosen according to criteria "consistent with the ideals of the World Social Forum" and that "a country should not be chosen which oppresses or occupies another nation". I speculated that this statement may have been a veiled criticism of Morocco's bid to host the Forum, especially given Morocco's ongoing claim to Western Sahara (whose government was recently recognised by the South African government).

It is unclear whether this statement may herald the possibility of a South African hosting bid being discussed at any serious level by members of South African civil society. South Africa certainly has the infrastructure and
experience in hosting large meetings and so would on one level would be an
obvious choice. However, some South African activists from groups further
to the left have expressed a concern that were South Africa to host the
event it could be used for political grandstanding by the ruling alliance:
in a way similar to how Lula used the Forum to promote his policies and
party just before rushing off to Davos. Others felt that South Africa has
already had the chance to host a great many gatherings on global issues and
that the opportunity to host such gathering ought to be shared between
African countries, especially given what they view as South Africa's
domineering 'sub-imperialist' role on the continent. It may be the case
that behind the scenes lobbying is going on for South Africa to host the
next Forum, but it is difficult to tell where such debates rest at the
moment.

Many of the speakers mentioned the need to ensure proper, transparent,
inclusive and participatory approaches to planning the 2007 Forum. It was
also stated that 'African diversities' and a sharing of ideas needed to take
place, which I interpreted as meaning that regional (Northern and
sub-Saharan Africa) and linguistic divisions (Francophone, Lusophone and
Anglophone) needed to be managed in a sensitive way. What is certainly
clear is that the organisational issues of how the Africa Social Forum
council is structured and how transparent and legitimate its dealings are
perceived to be by civil society groups may remain an ongoing issue,
especially in the light of the fact that Africa will be hosting the 2007
global Forum.

My last Forum event and certainly a highlight of my time in Porto Alegre was going to see Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speak at the giant stadium (the Gigantinho) on Sunday evening. Chavez spoke at the same venue as Lula had a few days before, but the events were completely different. The stadium was hot and packed to capacity (I estimate that at least 20 000 people were there, if not more) and the excitement about hearing Chavez speak was palpable: he was the rock star of the Forum.

His talk started three and a half hours later than advertised. Assorted
musical items and boring speeches by WSF council, government and union
figures where punctuated by cries of "Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole Chavez, Chavez!'
and most interestingly, 'Chavez yes, Lula no!'. Some activists held banners
saying "Chavez, Be Our President!". As with the Lula talk there were PT
supporters and people from parties to the left of the PT such as P-SOL (made up of dissidents who recently left the PT over social security reforms) and PSTU who did counter booing and cheering (lefties who left the PT ten years ago over earlier for similar reasons). Whereas PT supporters made up the bulk of the audience at Lula's talk, most people at the Chavez talk clearly fell into the later camps.

Chavez spoke following an ecstatic reception to him as he walked to the
podium. A young Latino American from Harlem kindly translated his speech
for me in noisy and hot conditions, for which I'm extremely grateful. I'm
sure that better summaries of his speech are doing the rounds on left e-mail lists so I'll rather stick to describing my overall impressions of his speech. There were strong populist overtures in his speech: for instance, he said he was an ordinary man, in touch with the needs of the peasants and the poor, as he has been a farmer, who knows how to take care of a family
and a soldier, who knows how to fight for what is right. He spent much of the first 30 minutes of his two hour speech describing how the struggle of Latin America against imperialism stems from the work of earlier revolutionaries such as Che Guevara, Bolivar and so on.

The main theme of his speech was the need for anti-imperialism. At times in arguing for this, his speech got quite rhetorical: he said that "Christ was the first anti-imperialist", that "Che's blood runs through our veins". A few anti-imperialist quotes from the speech which are worth sharing include: "the North depends on the South"; "If the South followed Bush's agenda, the world could be destroyed"; "we must continue to fight for what is right even if that requires violence because I'd rather die fighting than die of hunger" "That the Patriot Act hinders freedom of speech meaning that the dead bodies in Iraq are piling up" He also mentioned that he rejected the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA, known as ALCA in Latin America) at a meeting in Canada.

Another big section of his speech was devoted to discussing events in Venezuela. He referred to attempts by conservatives to oust him as being an attempt at counter-revolution. In 2004, he agreed to a referendum called
for by the conservatives even when the petition calling for one included
fake signatures and signatures of dead people. He won 60% in that
referendum partly because of the successes of his administration in
delivering social services. His administration famously nationalised oil (a
very radical step in this day and age, especially in the context of the
invasion and occupation of Iraq) and has spent revenues thus obtained on
education, health, micro-credit and housing all of which are provided free.
Tariq Ali drew attention to these successes in a recent Wolpe lecture given
at CCS in Durban, which is what stimulated my curiosity about Chavez in the
first place.

I must say that he is one of the most charismatic and inspiring speakers I
have ever heard, even though I heard him translated from Spanish in
difficult conditions in a stadium of 40 degrees centigrade with little water
and food for four hours. Having said that, I feel that the Forum may have
been dominated far too much by speakers given by 'great leaders', whereas
social movements are made up of many people and should be stronger than
relying on charismatic leaders. More plenary debates should have been held
between civil society leaders and intellectuals on key controversial issues
facing the Forum and civil society, such as: "Should we have any dealings with International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank?", "What are appropriate relationships between social movements and NGOs within and from the North and South?" "How do we avoid reproducing the world we are trying to change in our movements by excluding women, poor people, black people, gay people or reflecting dominant social relations in our organisational hierarchies?"

To move into more general critiques of the Forum, the spread out, self-organised meetings made it extremely hard to move from one meeting to the next. Most meetings were held in extremely hot tents, which made it almost impossible to concentrate for long periods. Many people in the youth camp seemed to be simply at the Forum to party, which made it hard for serious politicised youths (such as progressive youth activists from Zimbabwe) to get any rest. Similarly, scheduled activist meetings in the evenings which were programmed to happen from 7 to 9 every night were often interrupted by loud music. So, for instance, an activist meeting on Zimbabwe we interrupted by loud techno music at 8:30pm, just as activists from Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition was describing what solidarity measures they want from activists in neighbouring countries such as South Africa.

There were innumerable reports of theft in the camp, which was poorly lit and completely open to anyone to walk around, including non-delegates/camp residents. These security issues meant women in the camp did not feel at all safe, especially given allegations we heard that five women had been raped in the camp on the final night and that an alleged perpetrator had even been murdered. It's unclear what (if any) support rape survivors could receive (such as health services, counselling and support accessing criminal justice) in the event of a rape at the Forum, but its clear that these issues need to be addressed at the next Forum. Our PT-supporting Brazilian friends argue that since the conservative government took over Porto Alegre there has been noticeably less support for the Forum and that Forum security may have been a casualty of these change in government in the city.

Broader questions also remain: for instance can the Forum remain an "open space for discussion of alternatives" indefinitely? Many activists I spoke to expressed a desire for the Forum to be more action-orientated and even possibly to begin to take positions on certain key issues (eg. The occupation of Iraq). It's very questionable to me to characterise the Forums as a movement of movements, when at best they are a space to network with different organisations and activists. The lack of clear politics at the Forum means that some delegates literally moved between Davos and Porto Alegre, suggesting that the Forum may no longer be challenging global capital as it has in times past. Delegates at Porto Alegre were urged to wear white headbands, but so did delegates in Davos. Perhaps as Social Movements Indaba argued at Lusaka the time may have come to "jealously guard" spaces for organising in the interests of the working class and poor against cooption to the agendas of other interests??

And so I left Porto Alegre with mixed feelings and many unanswered questions about where the global movement against corporate globalisation and imperialism was headed and what role the Forums could play in bolstering that movement. I hope that Africa, by hosting the global Forum can add ultimately improve it as an instrument to express resistance. However, I have felt pleased to have had the opportunity to have met so many wonderfully warm, committed and intelligent people from around the world of all ages and walks of life, working so hard to see the realisation of their ideals for a better world. In this sense, the Forum gave me enormous hope for the future.

Kind Regards
Mandisa in Porto Alegre

Mandisa Mbali
Research Fellow
Centre for Civil Society
School of Development Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Durban
4041

Ph: +27 31 260 1412
Fax: +27 31 260 2502
E-mail: mbalim1@ukzn.ac.za
Website: www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs



Third Update from the World Social Forum
by Mandisa Mbali in Porto Alegre

On Thursday evening we attended a meeting of US-based peace activists from various organisations, including the International Socialist Organisation, United for Peace and Justice Coalition and student peace organisations.

These activists all outlined their opposition to the Iraqi war and that most Americans oppose the war and occupation, even while Bush obtained a slender majority in the recent US elections. Despite this widespread opposition to the war, the panellists tried to explain why Bush won re-election.

They saw Bush and Kerry as having tried to out-militarise each other and Kerry as merely offering a more efficient occupation, not pledging to end the occupation. Many of the panellists characterised both the Republican and
Democratic parties as subscribing to the Washington Consensus and holding equally imperialist views.

All were unanimous on the need to end the occupation due to its unjust nature and the suffering it is causing to the Iraqi people. They all noted that a recent article in the medical journal the Lancet estimated that over
100 000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war and occupation of the country. An activist from United for Peace and Justice visited Iraq in 2004 on a fact-finding mission and noted that less than fifty percent of Iraqi children are currently attending school. He also found that while the "Shock and Awe" bombing campaign which marked the opening of the conflict was presented as being 4th of July fireworks on US TV news networks it had left Iraqis deeply psychologically traumatised. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children cannot sleep alone at night due to the lasting trauma caused by the bombing campaign. Yet the country only has seventy psychologists who have only been given ten percent of the money they need to provide adequate counselling and treatment to those who have suffered long term psychological problems as a result of the violence of the war and occupation.

US peace activists are trying to campaign for an end to the occupation, but face many challenges. For instance, student and youth activists experienced explosions of activism, as in the immediate pre-war period followed by
periods of acceptance and apathy. This is in part due to the fact that there are no student union structures equivalent to those in Latin America.

Young people do not vote in large numbers due to the fact that there is no real choice between candidates.

Despite these challenges there are signs of hope and new shoots of peace activism are growing. There has apparently been a rise in troop resistance.

The 334th quartermaster brigade apparently refused the transport contaminated oil in Iraq. There was also recent an incident where a Mexican American soldier who had returned to the US from a military tour of Iraq killed two policemen because he had snapped from the psychological pressure of facing another tour of Iraq. Due to the psychological trauma of perpetrating and witnessing daily violence against Iraqis this soldier brought the war home.

As Micheal Moore's film Fahrenheit 9-11 showed, many working class young American troops sign up for jobs and access to healthcare, which has led many activists to refer to this phenomenon as being a 'poverty draft'.

Even this is leading to pockets of resistance. In Seattle, working class students at a community college walked out of their classes in their hundreds and drove military recruiters out of their college, tearing up their recruitment material. This anti-recruitment activity is slowly spreading to other colleges around the US.

The Africa Social Forum seminar was for the most part a summary of the discussions in Lusaka, however, there are a few discussion points worth noting. A Nigerian activist made the point that African leaders are also to
blame for socio-economic injustices on the continent. In particular, the Abacha family related to the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha) have US$107 billion stolen by Abacha illicitly stashed in Western banks, yet the
country has conditionalities (such as privatisation) imposed on it by the International Financial Institutions for its US$30 billion debt.
Despite the fact that a Swiss court ruled that the stolen money should be repatriated the Nigerian government has not acted on this ruling. As George Dor of Jubilee South Africa pointed out this is no excuse for imposing conditionalities on debt cancellation because "How can a thief in Switzerland tell Africa how to spend her money? How can the World Bank and IMF who have killed countless people in Africa direct how to eradicate poverty? How can Bush and Blair who have bombed Iraq tell us what to do?".

It is clear that African civil society wishes to play its role in holding governments accountable for socio-economic injustices and corruption, but
rejects unfair outside intervention in African economies.

Activists present also questioned how to move from a talking mode to an activist mode: how to us the Forums to demonstrate social movements social power and truly inflict pain upon corporations and International Financial Institutions who hurt the workers, the poor and the environment. They feel the need to match the ideological power and organisational capacity of the imperialists through developing strategic platforms, concept and a rallying calls for action.

Two activists Dennis Brutus and myself proposed possible concrete actions that could be taken around issues discussed. A Californian court recently ruled against a multinational oil company and in favour of the people of Burma in an environmental justice law suit awarding damages of US$8billion.

Brutus argued that the ASF should demand reparations from corporations who benefited from apartheid oppression and support the lawsuit of apartheid victims demanding such reparations. I argued for activists from G8 countries to express more solidarity for the struggle for access to HIV

treatment in Africa through lobbying their countries to give more aid to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) and to scrutinize bilateral trade agreements to ensure that they allow full access to generic essential medicines.

It was clarified at the meeting that the WSF council has undertaken to invite Africa to host the 2007 WSF meeting. The exact dates and venues of the meeting have yet to be decided, but the fact that Africa is due to host the WSF in two years, give added relevance to debates about the future strategic and political directions of the forum.

The last meeting we attended yesterday evening was about the crisis in Zimbabwe. Two activists from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and the Zimbabwe Social Forum addressed the meeting. The activists argued that despite the bleak human rights and socio-economic situation in the country there were some small positive signs of change. For instance, Mugabe's
greater dependence on naked power can be interpreted as a sign of weakness.

There are also tensions in the ruling elite over succession, as the old Zanu PF nationalists no longer trust the 'young turks'; although activists predict a closing of ranks in the upcoming elections. Activists also see hope in new movments of women and people living with HIV. They have held three social forums which have proven to be important spaces for debating ideology and strategy and tactics.

They asked for solidarity in a few main areas: that activists from other countries ask for

  • political sanctions against the ruling party


  • that they address the difficulties Zimbabweans have in obtaining political asylum


  • that they facilitate Zimbabwean activists organising for human rights and socio-economic justice in their countries and


  • that they support Zimbabwe Social Forum's bid to host the Southern African Social Forum, which could provide further space to obtain solidarity for their cause.


  • Upcoming highlights I ll be reporting on are the African Women s Tribunal (this afternoon) and Venezeulan President Hugo Chavez s address on
    Sunday.

    Kind Regards

    Mandisa in Porto Alegre

    Mandisa Mbali
    Research Fellow
    Centre for Civil Society
    School of Development Studies
    University of KwaZulu-Natal
    Durban
    4041
    Ph: +27 31 260 1412
    Fax: +27 31 260 2502
    E-mail: mbalim1@ukzn.ac.za
    Website: www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs



    Second Update from the World Social Forum
    by Mandisa Mbali

    Yesterday afternoon's demonstration to open the Forum was absolutely huge- easily the biggest demonstration either of us has ever been to. It was quite moving to samba with so many civil society groups opposing corporate globalisation, neoliberalism and imperialism. We've attached some photos we took of the demonstration which show how large and diverse it was. In fact it was so big that we found it impossible to find other African activists, a hundred of whom marched at the front and apparently 'stole the show' with their chants and black African Social Forum ponchos.

    Due to our non-existent Portuguese language proficiency it was impossible to understand many of the banners, placards and chants. A few which were easy to understand were celebrating the Iraqi and Palestinian resistance. The largest recognisable groupings (to non-Portuguese speakers like ourselves) were political parties (PST) groups like the MST (Brazil's Landless People's Movement) and various Union, Environmental, Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transexual groups. We were sad to find only one AIDS-related placard and banner from a local AIDS support NGO and saw none highlighting the global AIDS crisis in a political sense. For instance, we were sad to find none highlighting the fact that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS TB and Malaria is almost bankrupt and can't fund another round of proposals, or the threat that new trade negotiations may present to availability of cheaper generic AIDS drugs (as you all know matters dear to our hearts as AIDS activists).

    Today we went to hear Lula speak as part of a panel on eradicating global poverty. We couldn't obtain a translation of his speech and will continue to ask around for a synopsis from someone bilingual who was there. We did notice the splits in the Brazilian left's assessment of Lula's rule (see yesterday's update) which we encountered earlier in our trip. The MST was noisily demonstrating outside the venue during Lula's speech and some activists were attempting to bend the metal wire between them and the police outside the venue. Inside, at least a fifth of the audience was booing and giving Lula thumbs down signs. We also saw banners saying "Another world is not possible with Lula" (see pictures attached).

    We then went in search of an African Social Forum meeting entitled "the Flame of Africa" which turned out to either have changed venues or been cancelled (the language barrier made it difficult to ascertain which was the case). We caught up with African and South African activists at a seminar debating disagreements in the global debt movement. African activists argued for unequivocal debt cancellation, whereas European activists argued for arbitration on the debt and a full audit of the debt (trying to assess which debts were legitimate and which were illegitimate). However, as South African activist MP Giyose pointed out this could lead to rich countries being the referee and a player in the debt cancellation process: an unlevel playing field where further unfair conditionalities could be imposed. As at the Africa Social Forum meeting in December these debates were made all the more pressing due to the fact that G8 countries are discussing various proposals for debt cancellation. While the US government apparently wants the IMF and World Bank to fund debt cancellation, the UK favours selling gold (which could impact on the gold price, with implications for South Africa as a gold producing country). The US NGO 50 Years is Enough (www.50years.org) handed us an excellent newsletter outlining the full implications of each proposal, which is we will bring home with us and place in our resource room.

    We will be off to various activist meetings tonight, which we will update you all on in tomorrow's update.

    Kind Regards

    Mandisa in Porto Alegre

    Mandisa Mbali
    Research Fellow
    Centre for Civil Society
    School of Development Studies
    University of KwaZulu-Natal
    Durban
    4041

    Ph: +27 31 260 1412
    Fax: +27 31 260 2502
    E-mail: mbalim1@ukzn.ac.za
    Website: www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs



    First Update from the World Social Forum

    I am currently in Porto Alegre attending the 5th World Social Forum with my partner. We will be sending short daily updates on our experiences at and reflections on the Forum for the duration of our stay here.

    ***

    Porto Alegre is rapidly filling up with activists and academics, who are arriving for the first day of the Forum. We knew the forum would be big when we met at least three people headed here at Johannesburg International airport on our flight to Sao Paulo. In Sao Paulo, half the people staying at our backbackers were headed here too.

    Having spent the last few days sightseeing in Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre, it is clear that like South Africa, Brazil is a country with high levels of inequality, as many commentators have noted). We saw favelas (slums) on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, which contrasted with luxury villas complete with swimming pools on the waterfront which we saw on a boat tour of Porto Alegre harbour yesterday.

    Left wing Brazilian activists and intellectuals we have met socially seem to disagree on what success Brazil’s Worker Party (PT) President (President Lula) has had in overcoming inequality and social exclusion in the country. Some argue that Lula’s difficulties in overcoming Brazil’s inequality and social exclusion need to be understood in the context of the reality that PT rules in coalition with other more right-wing parties. Others note that Brazil continues to service debts it holds with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and that a senator and three parliamentarians were expelled from the PT for disagreeing with a piece of social security legislation proposed by PT, which they considered too right wing. We have seen grafitti around Porto Alegre saying “Another world is not possible with Lula and Bush”.

    A Brazil-based progressive South African intellectual we met a few night ago compared Lula with Mbeki, arguing that like Mbeki Lula “talks left and acts right”. These debates are of great interest to us and we will continue to find out as much as we can about the utility of such comparisons. From what we can gather it seems as though Lula will be speaking at a session on poverty tomorrow morning, which we’ll try to attend. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez will also be speaking on Saturday.

    PT no longer governs the council of Porto Alegre, which has been taken over by a more right wing party. We were interested to learn this as the World Social Forum was launched in the political context of four terms of PT rule in the city. Our Brazilian friends argue that this is probably due to apathy and bureaucratisation setting in the city administration, which they argue ran out of fresh ideas. They added that the opposition argued that the city needed change. Sixteen years of PT rule and participatory budgeting improved the transport system and Porto Alegre’s health system was far ahead of others in the region amongst many other PT reforms. The superior public health system meant that people came from miles around to use the cities hospitals, placing strain on the city’s health system, which was exploited by the opposition in the recent elections. The city’s middle class at first benefited from improvements in the city (such as its transport system) due to participatory budgeting, but the last few years came to resent PT’s focus on addressing the needs of the city’s poor. According to our Brazilian friends, the participatory budget’s name has been changed and it is being emptied of substance. The new mayor apparently once said that the Social Forum is “made up of terrorists and communists living in an ideological Disneyland”, but he has recently realised that the Forum contributes to the city’s economy and even wants it to stay in Porto Alegre. Since PT lost the city, the Forum is in a sense now in a politically hostile space and we’ll be interested to observe whether this impacts on it in any way.

    There will be a big march to open the Forum later this afternoon, which we’ll be attending: I’ll send a quick report on how it went tomorrow. The programme is a bit daunting with thousands of seminars divided into 11 tracks (we were handed a programme the width of four editions of the M&G!).

    The forum meetings and seminars begin tomorrow. We’ll be focussing heavily on attending events focussed on Africa and/or organised by the Africa Social Forum, but we’re also looking out for things of interest and relevance to new social movements in South Africa. This will be of particular relevance as we’ve heard that the next World Social Forum will be held in Africa.

    Kind Regards
    Mandisa Mbali in Porto Alegre


    Picture by Mandisa Mbali


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