PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — With the intent of “internationalizing” the development of alternatives to globalized market economies, the World Social Forum, staged for three consecutive years here, will move to India in 2004, before returning to Brazil in 2005.
The decision was made in a closed session, and the debate was often heated and revealed both diversity and divisions within the leftist community.
“The World Social Forum has been a forum of white people and Western countries. It’s almost impossible for (Asian and African countries) to afford the costs of transportation,” said Emir Sader, a professor at Pontificia Universidade Catolica de São Paulo.
Some members of the Brazilian committee were opposed to the change in location, stating that the World Social Forum has deep roots in Porto Alegre, where it was first held in 2001.
But Roberto Savio of Inter Press Service said that Porto Alegre has started an international movement, with smaller regional forums flourishing around the world in 2002.
“This year about one hundred thousand people are expected to be here,” he said. “Next year that could double … the [forum] needs to spread its wings worldwide. We have already started a process of ‘internationalizing’ … with regional, national and thematic forums in Africa, Asia and Europe.”
Meenan Menon of the Asian Social Forum said that they did not mean to “steal” anything from Brazil.
“We are not trying to take away what Porto Alegre represents. We’re going to deliver the Porto Alegre message to the world,” she said. “There are so many people with so interesting thing to say in Africa and Asia.”
Also in flux is the date of the 2004 event. Born in opposition to World Economic Forum of Davos, Switzerland, the World Social Forum has always been held at the same time.
But, Savio said, the World Social Forum “has already proved its power of mobilization and as an affective event in opposition to the forum of Davos.”
Instead, next year may see peace marches timed to coincide with the Davos event.
“We will mobilize millions and millions of people marching around the world during the Davos forum. But the World Social Forum can happen another time,” Savio said.
The World Social Forum