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Swiss hail "energy" of Porto Alegre

Liliane Maury Pasquier and Daniel Bolomey were part of the Swiss delegation swissinfo.ch

Swiss delegates attending the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre say the event has breathed new life into the struggle against globalisation.

This content was published on January 31, 2005 - 17:56

The Forum, which wrapped up on Monday, is set to move away from Brazil next year in search of new audiences.

“My feeling is the same as last year: this Forum produces lots of energy,” parliamentarian Liliane Maury Pasquier told swissinfo.

“And what we have experienced here is very useful back in Switzerland for defending the concerns of tens of thousands of people.”

The Social Democrat parliamentarian conceded that many of the suggestions put forward at the global gathering were unlikely to be realised.

But she said she would continue to pressure the Swiss government to help reduce the debt burden in developing countries.

Positive response

Daniel Bolomey, from the Swiss branch of the non-governmental organisation, Amnesty International, also reacted positively.

He suggested that the Swiss delegation – mainly NGOs and anti-globalisation activists – would benefit from a further meeting in a few months’ time.

“The Forum is so enormous, so people went to different places and one should share all these experiences for [the benefit of] our daily work,” said Bolomey.

The 50-strong delegation – the largest ever Swiss contingent at the Forum – was also impressed by the programme prepared by the E-Changer movement and the Swiss Coalition of Development Organisations, which organised the Swiss trip.

This included a visit to witness the work of the Women Farmers Movement, which is fighting against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Brazil, plus a closer look at rural realities in the South American country.

Impressed

The Swiss also had praise for the Forum’s speakers including Chico Whitacker, a member of the international council of the World Social Forum.

Whitacker reminded participants at the Forum that the meeting was above all an “incubator of ideas” and that it showed that the anti-globalisation movement was still strong.

Whitacker cited as proof of its strength the worldwide demonstrations on February 15, 2003, against the war in Iraq.

This was an idea that originated at the European Social Forum in Florence in 2002 and was circulated via the internet.

The global gathering, which is seen as a counterbalance to the World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss resort of Davos, featured more than 2,000 workshops and around 100,000 participants.

Next year it is expected that the forum will decamp from Brazil and be spread across three continents in a bid to attract new audiences. Around 80 per cent of participants in Porto Alegre came from Brazil.

Morocco, South Korea and Venezuela are all in the running to co-host the 2006 event. Africa is the favourite for the following year, with a host country yet to be confirmed.

swissinfo, Marc-André Miserez in Porto Alegre

Key facts

The World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, finished on Monday.
The fifth such meeting, which lasted six days attracted a record 100,000 people.
More than 2,000 workshops on global and regional problems took place.

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