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World Social Forum Opens in Brazil

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo Thursday January 31, 5:29 pm Eastern Time World Social Forum Opens in Brazil World Social
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2002
      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      Thursday January 31, 5:29 pm Eastern Time

      World Social Forum Opens in Brazil

      World Social Forum Opens in Brazil As Counterweight to
      Economic Summit in New York

      By TONY SMITH, AP Business Writer

      PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) -- Dancing, waving banners and
      chanting against globalization, thousands of activists
      paraded Thursday as the second World Social Forum opened
      with a broadside at U.S. plans for a free trade area
      stretching from Alaska to Argentina.

      The crowd, estimated by police at as many as 50,000, marched
      along Porto Alegre's tree-lined boulevards in a party mood
      despite heavy rain. As clowns twirled and released balloons,
      other activists banged drums and blew whistles. Some waved
      banners reading "Disarm the world! Feed the people!" and "No
      to imperialist war!"

      The five-day Social Forum bills itself as a counter to the
      rich and powerful meeting at the World Economic Forum in New
      York. Even before the formal opening, two of its scheduled
      speakers harshly criticized the proposed Free Trade Area of
      the Americas, or FTAA, that President Bush wants in place by

      Supporters of the idea, first floated by the Clinton
      administration, say it would generate trade that would boost
      poor economies in the Western Hemisphere. Opponents call it
      a ploy to give businesses in the rich, industrialized North
      unfettered access to more markets.

      Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil's left-wing Workers'
      Party and a favorite in the country's presidential election
      later this year, said the free-trade zone would amount to
      "annexation of Latin America by the United States."

      "As a Brazilian, I am going to fight hard so the FTAA will
      not be put in place, unless the interests of all
      participants are respected," Silva said at a news

      At another news conference, MIT linguistics professor Noam
      Chomsky, a leading social activist, also criticized the
      trade zone, saying it would "concentrate power on one side
      and the general population on the other."

      Chomsky accused Washington of "wanting to ram that plan
      through in secrecy," but said it failed because activists
      inspired by last year's Social Forum protested at the later
      Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

      While many of the participants at the Social Forum strongly
      attack the globalization of the world economy, Chomsky said
      the conference should be "scrupulously careful not to
      describe itself as an anti-globalization forum."

      "We want globalization in the interests of the world
      population," he said. "They want globalization to be their
      particular form of corporate globalization."

      The Social Forum draws activists seeking to right what they
      see as the ills of capitalism -- foreign debt, global trade
      that favors industrialized nations and powerful
      multinational corporations. About 40,000 people from around
      the world are expected at this year's meeting, more than
      double last year.

      "I came because I wanted to fight for justice," said Manuela
      Gualdon, who arrived Thursday from Rome.

      Mario Costa Silva, who led a group of union activists from
      Concecpcion in northern Chile, said: "I'm against the FTAA
      because it represents the unfair exploitation of Latin
      America's natural resources."

      Activities were peaceful Thursday, although the forum's
      organizers worried about violence by anarchists, some of
      whom have criticized the Porto Alegre gathering as
      "economically reformist, politically traditionalist and
      socially conformist."

      More than 1,100 police officers and 600 reserves patrolled
      the city, but none were in riot gear and the mood was more
      festive than threatening.

      Dan Clore

      Now available: _The Unspeakable and Others_

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