The President of the United States, George W. Bush, did not attend the opening march of the World Social Forum, but he was one of its protagonists.
Banners, flags, and posters borne by militants from various corners of the world manifested the Forum participants’ dissatisfaction with the policies adopted by the government in Washington.
From beginning to end of Borges de Medeiros Avenue, where the march took place in the center of the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, photos of people killed in Iraq were visible, together with the phrase: “Bush is the biggest terrorist.”
The anger expressed by the “other-worldists,” as the militants engaged in the fight against neoliberal globalization are denominated, was also directed against the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.
Most of the two hundred thousand demonstrators who took part in the largest march in the Forum’s history blame these leaders for the chronic problems that beset humanity.
To the bombs and machine gun blasts associated with their policies, the protestors responded with chants in various languages: “enough bombs, enough attacks, end imperalism in Iraq.”
Throughout the march similar protests could be heard, mixed with drumbeats, bugle calls, battle cries, laughs, and kidding, uttered and heard by people from different ideological camps: the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, the Barros de Pie movement of Argentinean educators, the American left (they say they live in the “belly of the monster”), farmers from the Via Campesina (“Peasant Way”), Palestineans, Europeans, Venezuelans, Australians, different forms of viewing and handling reality.
The only thing they have in common is a desire to build “another possible world.”
The demonstrators did not forget the President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was the object of both admiration and criticism.
The President, who arrived in Porto Alegre, yesterday, January 26, to participate in the World Social Forum for the fourth time, was exalted by his Labor Party (PT) comrades.
Led by José Genoino, president of the PT, they marched wearing T-shirts displaying the slogan “100% Lula.”
The critics, for their part, preferred a tone of provocation. They sang “I’m Going to Celebrate,” a song made famous by Beth Carvalho: “You repayed with treachery the one who always gave you a hand.”
Translation: David Silberstein