A Tale of Two Cities: Porto Alegre and Davos

Jay Moore research at SPAMneravt.com
Fri Jan 26 17:23:04 MST 2001


The proceedings at Porto Alegre -- including an online "library of
alternatives" with commentaries by heavy hitters on the Left like Eduardo
Galleano, Samir Amin, Michel Lowy, Noam Chomsky -- can be followed at
http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br and http://brasil.indymedia.org/

The demonstrations at Davos can be followed at
http://switzerland.indymedia.org/

jay
http://www.neravt.com/left/

*********

Brazil's rival "Davos" forum blasts globalization, capitalism
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, Jan 26 (AFP) -

As the world's business and political elite gathered in Davos, Switzerland
for their annual summit, leading activists at an alternative forum here
Friday blasted the effects of globalization and capitalism.
"Globalization is a new phase of the imperialist expansion of capital, a fig
leaf to hide imperialism itself," said the director of the Third World
Forum, Egyptian economist Samir Amin.

"To say that there is no alternative to globalism is false," said Amin, a
proponent of global socialism, to the applause of some of the 3,000 people
attending Porto Alegre's alternative to Davos.

Representatives from grassroots organizations, labor unions and political
parties worldwide joined international economists and sociologists in this
southern Brazilian city for five days of discussion.
On the agenda are issues including developing countries' debt, child
workers, feminism, racism, genetically modified food, and -- above all --
what participants claim is the negative impact of economic "globalization."

In the chic Swiss ski resort of Davos -- under heavy security after last
year's disruptions by demonstrators -- heads of government and corporate
chiefs met at the World Economic Forum to discuss the direction of key
interest rates, foreign exchange markets and possible fallout from slowing
US economic growth.

Porto Alegre's rival World Social Forum meeting, where speakers and
participants were dressed in jeans and symbolic red scarves, claims to speak
for those bearing the brunt of macroeconomic trends.
While astonishing revelations were few, the forum's organizers say it will
be more than soap-box pitches, drawing on a new kind of activism propagated
by the demonstrations against the World Trade Organization in Seattle in
1999.

Participants called for the direct involvement of citizens in both
national-level economic decisions through local referendums and
international accords through the participation of local representatives.
Failing that, former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella called on
participants Friday to take up arms and reclaim democracy by force.

"We are here to reclaim democracy, but if the way is blocked, as in
Colombia, Palestine or Algeria, then taking up arms is a sacred right," he
said.

The Porto Alegre forum, he added, "can move things forward, it's a start."

Other star speakers here are French trade unionist Jose Bove, who is due to
speak on land reform.
The 47-year-old sheep farmer, who became an international media star after
his Farmers Confederation stormed a MacDonald's restaurant in rural France,
said the forum would continue the spirit of Seattle, but with a more
international flavor.

According to its organizers, some 3,000 delegates attended the forum Friday,
hosted by Luiz Inacio da Silva ("Lula"), leader of Brazil's leftist Workers'
Party (PT) and a former presidential candidate.
This port city of 1.3 million people, capital of Brazil's southernmost state
of Rio Grande do Sul, is a natural setting for the meeting.

Since 1998, its PT-controlled city government has experimented with a brand
of participative democracy which aims to involve the public directly in how
public funds are spent.

Brazil's president, social democrat Fernando Henrique Cardoso, on Wednesday
criticized the forum as naive, questioning why the Rio Grande do Sul state
government, also PT-controlled, saw fit to fund it to the tune of 600,000
dollars.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan addressed a letter Thursday to Rio Grande do
Sul governor Olivio Dutra agreeing that "globalization" has disparate
effects on different groups and the "international community" should take
urgent action for improved living standards around the world.






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