World Social Forum Back in Brazil After India Stint

    The creation of a space for groups with common themes to debate ideas is one of the innovations already decided for the World Social Forum (FSM), which will once again be held in Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil, from January 26-31, 2005.

    After being held this year for the first time elsewhere than Porto Alegre, in Mumbai, India, the FSM is returning to its place of origin next year.

    The first round of discussions to prepare for the event occurred last week in São Paulo. The organizers want the next forum to be more dynamic and better attended than the 2003 Brazilian edition, when an estimated 130 thousand people participated, including a significant foreign presence.

    They also want to transform it into a more useful instrument for the changes desired by most of organized society. They also plan to strengthen the regional forums, turning them into multiplier events that succeed in widening the participation of excluded peoples.

    There already exist some initial proposals of themes for the event, such as: Sovereign Economies by the People, for the People, and against Neoliberal Capitalism; Peace and Demilitarization; the Struggle against War, Free Trade, and Debt; the Defense of Diversities, Plurality, and Identities; Social Struggles and Democratic Alternatives to Neoliberal Domination: Human Rights and Dignity for a Just and Egalitarian World; and the Construction of Cultures of Resistance among Peoples.

    During the last World Social Forum in India, Brazil’s  Minister of Cities Olí­vio Dutra spoke of subjects such as the protagonist role to be played by people and the construction of a culture of peace.

    The minister believes that carrying out the WSF in India will be important to narrow ties between the country and Brazil, and other nations with similar characteristics, which do not want “to be told what to do by richer countries”.

    Question ”“ “In your opinion, how important is it to have a World Social Forum in India after three consecutive editions in Brazil?

    Olí­vio Dutra ”“ India has contributed a lot to the reflection on the issue of difference, inequality, injustice, the need to have a different world, which starts by debating regional realities in countries and continents. This 4th edition of the WSF here is the evidence that the people of countries like Brazil, India and Africa do not want to be told what to do by richer countries.

    We understand that the world can be different and that we can, through the space of the World Social Forum, gather and accumulate forces, advance an agenda and work to gradually build a culture that is not based on selfishness.

    A culture not based on wars, on money and capital accumulation, but rather on solidarity, on a holistic relationship between man and nature and the environment; on effectively building peace with social justice, on income distribution, on the creation of decent jobs for million of people all over the world and on fighting against poverty and hunger.

    Question ”“ Which was your impression of the Mumbai Forum’s opening?

    Olí­vio Dutra ”“ I couldn’t be at the opening ceremony. I didn’t arrive in time for that. But I heard very interesting reports that this meeting will be very rich and important in terms of diversity and plurality between peoples that are not aligned with the neoliberal view, with the view of market and capital globalisation.

    I think the opening of this Forum was the evidence that we want to radicalise the democratic process all over the world. We also want supranational organisations under public and democratic control, and that they might be fertilised by a participation process that allows diverse thinking.

    That we build a global, diversified thought, but one that builds peace, equality, justice, with citizen participation, popular, with our peoples playing as protagonists.

    In our government, we want all to be protagonists, in order for the changes that have already taken place to go further, to be larger and for us not only to shorten the distances between the few rich and the many poor, but also generate equality, justice, fraternity, democracy.

    Our country is a representative democracy and it improves as we build it with people’s effective participation. A process where people are not citizens only occasionally, but permanently, in their everyday lives. That is in process in Brazil.

    We are carrying out changes in the country with thousands of people as protagonists. Examples of that were the Conferences of Cities, Health, the Environment…

    It’s millions of Brazilians that had no voice and now they have it, to discuss policies and politics. But the process of course is not magic; it doesn’t make changes to happen all of a sudden in the first year. But what we did is evidence that we want the Brazilian people not to be an object of politics, but rather its subject.

    Question ”“ The social action of the Lula administration in its first year was criticised by the very organisations of civil society and social movements. Is the presence of the Brazilian government in this forum a reencounter with social movements, seeking to tune up proposals for a new model of action from now on?

    Olí­vio Dutra ”“ The administration of “companion0” President Lula respects fundamentally social movements. We came from it; we are committed to it. But we respect its plurality, its diversity, its richness. We don’t mix up social movements with the administration or the State.

    They cannot be the transmission belt of parties or the government. Civil society is very well represented by the World Social Forum. We preserve such spirit of independence, of autonomy of social movements. Just as the administration should be respected in its autonomy.

    The administration is not a mere reflection of social movements. And we are not here to tune up with social movements because we have never been out of tune. We’re here precisely because it is our understanding that the World Social Forum is an important space for reflection on world social issues.

    Peace, justice, the construction of a new world, based not on a hegemonic stance over others. That is crucial and it’s in the direction of the administration’s actions.

    Question ”“ Which main differences do you feel between the Forums of Porto Alegre and Mumbai?

    Olí­vio Dutra ”“ I’d rather work on convergence, on similarities. And there’s a lot of convergence between this Forum and Latin America, and Brazil. We are even proposing a G3 including Brazil, India and South Africa.

    These are countries with several similar problems and with lots of willingness to change such reality, through a more sovereign presence in the international scene, escaping from the hegemonic blocks of countries that are stronger in economic and military terms.

    I think it is very important that this edition of the Forum is taking place here, in India, then we can get to know each other better.

    Agência Brasil

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