The 11th annual World Social Forum is taking place in Dakar, Senegal. The week-long gathering has attracted tens of thousands of people from more than 100 countries. It began Sunday with a rally and march through the capital. Joining the marchers was Bolivian President Evo Morales. During a speech, he said neo-liberal policies oppress people and destroy natural resources.
“This struggle by the people is going to be unstoppable, even though the United States government provides millions and millions of dollars of financing to try and finish these social movements, but this is not going to stop, the solution is through social commitments and not repression”
Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva is also attending. He urged African countries to invest in food sovereignty, the right of people to decide their own policies towards food production, and encouraged them to follow Brazil’s model of a “green revolution.” Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade appeared alongside Lula today, but told the crowd he’s a supporter of the market economy. According to Inter Press Service, Wade said he’s followed the World Social Forum since 2000, but questions whether activists have succeeded in changing the world at the global level. Another participant is Cairo-born Samir Amin, President of World Forum of Alternatives, a group that promotes convergences of social movements. He says the uprising in Egypt is about more than just pressuring Mubarak to resign.
“The plan of the ruling system and supported by the United States and of course by Europe behind the United States, is not to allow that, is that to make the minimal concession in order to safeguard the essential of the system that is a capitalist, neo-liberal integration in the global system which is at the route of all the social devastation of course, but simultaneously a system that is aligned with the U.S. policy for the global level and for the region, that means also tolerating of, allowing de facto Israel to continue the devastation in occupied Palestine.”
The World Social Forum started 10 years ago to counter the World Economic Forum, and create a place for activists, NGOs and grassroots groups to gather and develop alternatives to neo-liberal policies. This year, many are focusing on issues related to African countries including food shortages and agricultural policies. Stay tuned to FSRN for on-the-ground coverage from Dakar.