Thematic Social Forum in Argentina – Brief report


Richard Moore

From: "Brian" <•••@••.•••>
To: "TOES" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: World Social Forum
Date: Mon, 2 Sep 2002 17:21:27 -0700

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Thematic Social Forum in Argentina - Brief report

Neo-liberalism in crisis in Argentina and the challenges for the global

Emilio Tadei - CLACSO (member of the TSFA Organizing Committee)

The Thematic Social Forum Argentina held in Buenos Aires from August 22 to
25 was the first step in the process of internationalizing the World Social
Forum. That process will continue throughout 2002 with other thematic,
national and regional forums. The success of the TSF in Argentina is a clear
sign of the political legitimacy gained internationally by the struggle
against neo-liberal globalization, and particularly by the World Social
Forum as a process for interlinking social movements and organizations.

The proposal to hold a Thematic Forum in Argentina came from the WSF
International Committee in response to the need to denounce the social
catastrophe produced there by decades o sustained neo-liberal policies and
to make internationally known the wealth of experiences of struggle and
resistance by grassroots organizations in Argentina. The proposal was
welcomed enthusiastically by the World Social Forum Mobilization Committee
in Argentina, which took responsibility for organizing the Forum.

Following discussions by the WSF Mobilization Committee in Argentina and as
agreed with the representatives of the WSF International Committee, it was
decided that the Thematic Forum in Argentina would analyse the crisis in the
neo-liberal political, economic and social regime in Argentina and broadcast
internationally the experiences of grassroots resistance and struggle there,
foster processes of convergence and networking among the various social and
grassroots movements and organizations in Argentina, forge closer links
between representatives of the international movement and Argentina, and
foster continental interlinking among struggles against the FTAA.

Drawing its inspiration from the principles of horizontality and plurality
that inform the WSF, the process of "building" and organizing the WSF in
Argentina promoted democratic participation and debate by all organizations
and individuals that worked together in this collective construction. This
spirit of democracy and plurality that guided the organization of the Forum
in Argentina was without a doubt one of the keys to its success.

More than 600 social organizations, movements, groups, trade unions and NGOs
answered the call to the WSF in Argentina and pooled their efforts to
organize it. In the process the WSF Mobilization Committee in Argentina was
reinforced by the participation of large numbers of youth groups,
neighbourhood associations and movements of the unemployed that joined
forces under the motto "another world and another Argentina are possible".

Porto Alegre Spring comes to Buenos Aires

The massive participation in the march that opened the WSF in Argentina
foreshadowed the crowds that were to flock to the four days of the Forum,
exceeding all the expectations of the WSF Mobilization Committee in
Argentina. Under the slogan "No to Neo-liberalism, No to the FTAA" more than
10,000 people strode the streets of Buenos Aires from May Square to Houssay
Square, hub of the WSF in Argentina's activities. The scale of participation
by Latin American and International delegations was a clear sign of
solidarity with Argentina's struggles and of world interest in the crisis in
Argentina. The Forum opened formally with a mass rally in Houssay Square
attended by Joao Felicio (Brazil) and Evo Morales (Bolivia) - and other
international delegates - who expressed their solidarity with the struggles
of the Argentinian people.

For three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) more than 20,000 peoples took
part in the more than 300 self-managed activities and workshops organized by
the lead organizations. During the evenings of Friday 23 and Saturday 24
thousands attended the 10 central panel debates held at the Faculties of
Social Sciences, Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry of Buenos Aires University
and in the Forum's central tent. The panel debates were designed to discuss
the causes and consequence of the crisis in Argentina and the resistance
endeavours and alternatives described and analysed by militants from social
organizations in Argentina and by international delegates. Participation by
representatives from African, Asian and European organizations on the debate
panels contributed to broadening the discussions to a more global level, and
brought to the WSF in Argentina some of the issues that will exercise the
Asia and Europe Regional Social Forums, such as the resurgence of United
States military campaigns in many Asian countries on the pretext of
combating terrorism and gains by the right in Europe.

In addition to the event in Buenos Aires, decentralized activities also took
place in the provinces of San Luis, Entre Rios, Santa Fe, San Juan,
Corrientes and Chaco, but all the provinces are considered to have been
represented at the WSF in Argentina through the participation of large
numbers of delegates. The discussions drew indigenous, trade union,
unemployed, feminist, teachers', small businessmen's and student groups,
whose experiences and expectations enriched the debates, interchanges and
networking that took place at the Forum. A large number of cultural
activities (music, theatre, video, photography, etc.) organized by youth
groups brought out the wealth of alternative cultural production that has
grown out of the experience of social struggles in recent times.

In a climate of fraternity and solidarity, the Forum heard and discussed
countless alternative social experiences that have arisen as a part of
grassroots responses to the crisis in the neo-liberal model. The experiences
of factories self-managed by workers, public production of medicines,
solidarity enterprises by groups of unemployed workers, the struggle against
GM products, and experiences in social self-organization by grassroots
assemblies fuelled the debates around building a society in solidarity.

The National Assembly against the FTAA, held on Saturday 24 in the Medicine
Faculty, was an incomparable opportunity for discussing the form the
Anti-FTAA campaign will take in Argentina and how to link it up with
campaigns in the other countries of Latin America. The assembly, attended by
numerous activists from other Latin American countries, made headway towards
coordinating initiatives and ratified the importance of the Days of
Continental Resistance against the FTAA which will take place from October
27 to November 1, 2002 in Quito, Ecuador. The struggle against the FTAA - as
the main US strategy for economic domination of Latin America, the
militarization of social conflicts (as with Plan Colombia) and the
intensification of US military campaigns in the rest of the continent, and
the debate over non-payment of the developing countries' external debt
constitute very important elements of a new understanding among Latin
American countries.

The Assembly of Social Movements that closed the debates of the WSF in
Argentina on Sunday, August 25 gathered together the numerous debates raised
over the three days of the Forum and ratified the importance of
consolidating contexts and settings where social struggles and movements can
converge. More than 60 men and women activists from different movements and
regions in Argentina and abroad took the floor to enhance the debate on the
struggles and alternatives in response to Neo-liberalism. In addition to
ratifying the importance of the continental struggle against the FTAA, it
was agreed to consolidate the experience of the World Social Forum in
Argentina and to adhere to the mobilization on August 30 under the banner
Que se vayan todos! (They Must All Go!), demanding that all mandates be
submitted to the forthcoming national elections in Argentina.

To the sound of the music of the World Social Forum in Argentina the
international delegates hailed the success of the Forum and undertook to
meet again in the coming meetings for regional and international
convergence. The results of this first experience of a major activity in the
World Social Forum process outside Brazil went beyond all expectations and
was a fundamental step towards taking it to the world level and to
strengthening the struggles of its participants at all levels - local, Latin
American and worldwide.

More Information and the Spanish coverage of the various activities can be
found at the web site of the ATSF, or directly
at the site


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