Well, as the WEF is kicked off in NYC today, a very different kind of gathering is coming together in Porto Alegre, Brazil. For the next few days, thousands of activists are converging at the World Social Forum to weave a new vision of reality, one in which humans and nature replace profits and power as the center of concern. The forum’s theme: another world is possible.
The first World Social Forum was held last year, in Porto Alegre, as a kind of “people’s” counterweight to the World Economic Forum. It began as a conversation between Brazilian workers, farmers, intellectuals, and clerics, and it triggered strong and immediate international support. Up to 20,000 people gathered at the forum for marches, workshops, testimonies, and movement building. In just a few short days, the WSF came to embody the growing movement against corporate-driven globalization.
This year’s World Social Forum picks up where the last one left off, yet even bigger. As many as 40,000 activists have gathered in Porto Alegre, including fisherfolk from India, farmers from East Africa, trade unionists from Thailand, indigenous people from Central America, and two Democracy Now producers from New York City.
Well, yesterday afternoon we caught up with some of these activists in Porto Alegre. Among them: Oronto Douglas, a human rights lawyer and founder of Environmental Rights Action in the Niger Delta. Douglas arrived in Porto Alegre just days after an explosion at an armory in Lagos, Nigeria, killed thousands of people. He was in the city at the time of the explosion, talking, of course, about human rights.
- Oronto Douglas, Deputy Director of Environmental Rights Action, human rights activist and lawyer (video-conference, pre-taped)
- Walden Bello, executive director, Focus on the Global South and Professor of Sociology and Public Administration, University of the Philippines (video-conference, pre-taped)