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World Social Forum: Another World is Possible

  • Subject: [cg] World Social Forum: Another World is Possible
  • From: ASFisher@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 30 Jan 2003 18:36:07 EST


Ole, Ole ole ola, Lula Lula.´´ 


At this weekend´s World Social Forum, that was the frequently heard chant and 
tribute to the newly elected and widely loved Lula, the new Workers Party 
president of Brazil. Held in Porto Alegre, a prosperous city of 1.3 million 
in southern Brazil, the World Social Forum brought together 30,000 delegates 
from NGOs from across the globe, along with another 70,000 observers and 
participants for a five day gathering, astonishing in its scope and numbers. 
The theme, Another World is Possible, pointed to the universal hope of the 
participants for a more equitable, sustainable, and diverse world.


A sense of hope permeated the air at the Forum, with a newly revitalized Left 
in Brazil after Lula´s election. An estimated 150,000 people marched in the 
streets of Porto Alegre on Thursday in a carnival-like atmosphere, 
proclaiming their support for another world and numerous causes, especially a 
possible war in Iraq. 


The Forum was an overwhelming experience. Held at five different sites across 
the city, with buses connectng them, there were some 1700 workshops, dozens 
of panels, seminars, roundtables, testimonials, cultural events, speeches, 
children´s events, etc etc. Speakers included Lula himself, Noam Chomsky, 
Arundhati Roy, Danny Glover, Che Guevara´s daughter, Eduardo Galeano, and 
numerous other luminaries of the worldwide Left. Combined with the throngs of 
people, 90 degree heat, ever-changing room assignments, and the challenges of 
constant translation, attendees soon realized that there was no way they 
could attend everything they wanted to.A mix of Portuguese and Spanish- 
portunhol turned into the lingua franca of the event.


Food and agriculture issues were widely represented at the Forum. There were 
dozens of workshops and panels on food sovereignty, land reform, food 
security, biotechnology, and biodiversity. This cornucopia of events 
demonstrated the tremendous importance of food and agriculture issues in 
Latin America. It also showed the power of the food security and anti-hunger 
movement in Brazil, where Lula´s Zero Hunger Program is a high priority. With 
a slogan of Three meals a day for everyone, the new government has proposed a 
new global fnd against hunger, as well as is exploring the creation of new 
national progams, including a potential program similar to the US food stamp 
program. 


Ending hunger will be a severe challenge in Brasil where some 50 million 
people live in poverty and there exists structural issues such as land reform 
and a high payments on the nation´s crushing external debt (52% of the 
nation´s GNP). 


The Community Food Security Coalition was well represented at the Forum. We 
held three workshops on CFS in North America, reaching about 100 attendees. 
We made connections with numerous food security activists and researchers 
especially from Latin America. International lawyers and human rights 
activists engaged in formulating food as a human right through the United 
Nations showed particular interest in making connections with the food securi
ty movement in the US and abroad.We learned of how other countries are much 
further advanced in their responses. For example, Argentina in the throes of 
a national economic crisis now has some 450,000 community gardens, with 2.3 
million participants. Community dining rooms, organized by the labor 
movement, are widespread throughout working class neighborhoods.


The CFSC´s International Links Committee is developing plans to build on the 
momentum of the Forum. We hope to continue to find ways to connect in 
solidarity with colleagues across the globe on common issues, and to learn 
from other local food system efforts, such as those in Argentina. We invite 
you to join the committee, and its new list-serve. For more information, 
contact the Committee chair, Linda Elswick of International Partners in 
Sustainable Agriculture, ipsa@igc.org


A luta continua! 


-From Peter Mann, World Hunger Year and CFSC Board and Andy Fisher, CFSC 
Executive Director


Please distribute.





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