Thousands march for peace
Tens of thousands of people have marched through the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre to mark the start of the fifth World Social Forum.
Under the slogan “Another world is possible”, the anti-globalisation march took place as political and business leaders continued their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Representatives of non-governmental organisations from around the world waved brightly coloured flags as they marched to the beat of Brazilian drums. Many carried banners denouncing United States President George Bush and the war in Iraq.
Three members of Brazil’s government also took part in the march, which lasted several hours.
It included a minute’s silence for the several hundred thousand victims of last month’s tsunami in Asia.
The World Social Forum, which runs until January 31, incorporates around 500 seminars, speeches, workshops and debates on the themes of free trade, land reform, human rights, poverty, and climate change.
This year, 150,000 are expected to attend, including a Swiss delegation of 50, plus representatives of Swiss NGOs.
The anti-globalisation event coincides with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, which opened on Wednesday, and was conceived as an alternative to the prestigious business summit.
Among the high-profile guests in Porto Alegre this year are Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will address the conference on Thursday on the global fight against hunger and poverty.
Other personalities attending include the Nobel peace prize Wangari Maathai from Kenya and the Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodrigues Zapatero.
swissinfo with agencies
The World Social Forum was first held in Porto Alegre in 2001.
Last year it was held in Mumbai, India.
The WSF sees itself as an alternative to the World Economic Forum, held annually in Davos around the same dates.
Up to 150,000 delegates are expected this year from more than 3,000 NGOs and 120 countries.
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