World Social Forum 2009: General Assembly of Social Movements Meeting, part II

26 January 2009 - 11:18pm
News

The Cuban speaker stressed that the Assembly of Social Movements had to be a space to move forward and develop concrete positions on such global issues as the financial crisis. He then informed us that MST and Via Campesina (one of the biggest peasant movement networks in Asia and Latin America) were hoping to hold a closed lobbying meeting with Hugo Chávez (the Venezuelan president), Evo Morales (the Bolivian president) outside the main WSF process for the networks to engage with the government.

Eric Toussaint then spoke about how the global crisis was not just a crisis related to specific neoliberal politics; it was a systemic crisis. He stressed that the role of the Assembly of Social Movements is to facilitate a convergence and put forward a declaration for adoption by the Assembly of Assemblies, as well as to radicalise the forum's agenda. He also pointed out that the Assembly of Social Movements needed to take a firm stand on the eviction of local people to make way for the forum.

A representative from the World March of Women from Belem disagreed. She thought it was important to emphasise that the relocation of people was not coercive or violent and that people were given adequate incentives to move. She felt that there were few parallels between what happened in Belem and what happened at the WSF in Nairobi 2007.

Other speakers spoke of various other issues such as the need to define the Social Movements' role within the context of Belem and the need to talk about the relocation of local people in the greater context of urban and agrarian reform and government policy. The meeting ended with the call for more concrete direction and global actions around the financial crisis and the assault on Gaza. It was felt that the two main themes of the declaration should be the financial crisis and conflict and militarisation. The panel asked participants to come forward and propose actions which the Assembly should adopt as important points of convergence.

After that exciting initiation into the WSF world, we headed off to find somewhere to eat. We bumped into Mel Alfonso from Solidarity not Charity and Amit Srivastava from the Indian Resource Center and Anti-Coca Cola Campaign and joined them for dinner. What a long day! Definitely time to catch some sleep now!

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