ricardo dominguez on Wed, 13 Feb 2002 23:54:02 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Letter From Pôrto Alegre

Letter From Pôrto Alegre

by Marc Cooper

 PÔRTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL--In their last full day of discussion and debate,
the thousands of delegates attending the World Social Forum were asking
themselves not only what they want but how to get it.

"We will not be listened to because we are right," said veteran Canadian
organizer Maude Barlow. "We will be listened to only if we are powerful.
What counts now is only what we actually do on the ground."

Barlow's sentiment seemed to sum up neatly what one might call
the consensus feeling coming out of this weeklong conference--a
conference deemed by all to be an inspiring success.

Thousands of activists, students and scholars from around the world
who jammed hundreds of workshops and seminars during the week
are leaving here with the feeling that something very important was
accomplished. Not that a fixed set of marching orders for the global
justice movement was fashioned and agreed upon. But rather that
the movement is alive and kicking after the setback of September 11;
that it is growing in both size and maturity. And that while the road
ahead toward some sort of global equity and a better humanity is
long, arduous and uncertain, it is, nevertheless, the only route
out of barbarity.

"What we are doing at Porto Alegre is not building a new society
of governments, nor a new society of nations," said author and
activist Susan George. "What we are building is a new society
of societies. That this task should be hard and difficult should
come as no surprise, because no one has ever done this before
in the history of the world. We have benefited from those who
have come before us and fought and lost, just as they have
from those who came before them. I will not see what we are
building in my lifetime. And there still might be losses in front of us.
But you only eventually win by fighting, and that is what we are doing.
Nothing will be given."

Tomorrow morning, the forum attendees will rally in a massive
closing ceremony and plans will be announced for the next
World Social Forum, the third of its kind. Early word is that a
smaller WSF will be held a year from now once again in
Pôrto Alegre and that a larger event will be planned for India in 2004.

Now, it's off to the big march against the Free Trade Area
of the Americas, which is expected to draw thousands.


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