5th World Social Forum Biggest Ever
28 Feb 2005
More than 200,000 people took part in the opening march of the 5th World Social Forum in Porto Alegre.
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More than 200,000 people took part in the opening march of the 5th World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. One hundred and fifty five thousand attended the discussions, including 6,880 lecturers whilst 35,000 stayed in the Youth Camp. People from 135 countries were involved in 2,500 activities and 2,800 volunteers helped with the event.
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez received a hero’s welcome. Since surviving a referendum last year aimed at ousting him, high oil prices have allowed the Venezuelan leader to fund massive social programs for the poor. In a packed sports stadium Chavez was greeted like a rock star. To cheers from thousands of members of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, he explained how his government is attempting to expropriate some 50 million acres of land to give to peasants, In order to combat what he described as a modern-day feudal land ownership of huge estates by businesses and the rich. “This can’t be tolerated,” Chavez said. “We’re going to keep on giving power to the people.”
A twelve point Porto Alegre Manifesto, drawn up by a group of nineteen intellectuals, got a mixed reception with many feeling that the Forum should not go beyond its original intention: to be an open space for discussion and debate. However many supported the views of Flavio Lotti, leader of Italy’s Tavola della Pace, who said: “I think that it is not in the mind of the signatories to define a platform to be imposed to anyone. It is an effort to summarize some common initiatives which I believe unify a big chunk of this World Social Forum. It is time for the Forum to face the “taboo” issue of becoming a global political force rather than just a space for debate.”
Next year the World Social Forum will be decentralized with simultaneous Forums in different parts of the world to coincide with the Davos Economic Forum. The World Social Forum 2007 will be held in Africa with regional and local Social Forums in the meantime.
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