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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le Forum social de Belém boosté par la crise

by Gaël De Santis

Global Crisis Boosts World Social Forum in Belem

Translated Thursday 19 February 2009, by Claire Scammell

Alterglobalisation. The World Social Forum (WSF), which ended on 1 February in Brazil’s Amazonian city, was a lot more incisive in its critique of capitalism than it has been in previous years.

There has been a change in vocabulary in Belem. The WSF Assembly of Social Movement is calling for “anti-capitalist measures”, a tougher stand than the anti-liberalism doctrine of previous years. It has to be said that the financial storm has blown through Belem. “We are faced with a capitalism-induced global crisis for which the system itself offers no solution”, was the analysis of a text which called for the end of “the capitalist system and patriarchal domination” in order to create “a society built upon the satisfaction of human needs and the respect of nature’s rights”. The text also evoked the 21st century’s “feminist, ecological and socialist project”.

The forum was considered a success by its organisers. Since January 27th, the city of Belem in the Brazilian Amazon has seen 133, 000 people from 142 countries come together to debate and to attempt to encourage a common struggle. Keen to offer solutions to the crisis, the alter-globalists call for “a series of urgent measures” including “nationalisation without compensation and under full social monitoring of the banking sector”; measures “guaranteeing rights to land, territory, work, education and health for all” and also to “ending the wars”.

The alter-globalists propose a “global week of action against capitalism and war” by way of mobilisation. The week will start on the 28th of March in London protesting against the G20 Summit and will end on the 4th of April in Strasbourg and Kiel in mobilisation against the 60th anniversary of NATO.

A sign of the crisis behind the forum, five South American presidents, Lula Da Silva (Brazil), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia) and Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), conspicuously boycotted the Forum in Davos and attended Belem. Furthermore, the former socialist presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, whose campaign involved winning over centrist François Bayrou, also wanted to show that “there is no unbreakable barrier between…a left government, social movements…and what is known in France as the extreme left”, as she announced to the French weekly ‘Journal du dimanche’. I’m not so sure how far she is won over by the Forum’s proposals or by the policies of the more progressive Latin American governments.

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