BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Business  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
E-Commerce
Economy
Market Data
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 16:02 GMT
Life at the alternative Davos
Demonstration at Porto Alegre
Anti-war demonstrators make their voices heard

Despite torrential rain, over 100,000 people turned up for the first day of the World Social Forum taking place from 23 - 28 January in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

Where else would a gay rights march be followed moments afterwards by a pro-Palestinian protest?

As soon as you arrive your senses are overloaded with colourful causes and campaigns all competing for attention.

Land for all, Rights for Women, No to war with Iraq.

It can seem like chaos, but that's what the Social Forum is all about.

It does not aim to promote one view but celebrate diversity.

Different planet

Set up two years ago, the World Social Forum offers a radical alternative to the World Economic Forum, an elite meeting of international businessmen and politicians taking place in Davos, Switzerland at the same time.

Protester
Anti-American sentiment is running high
The event has grown rapidly over the last two years from 20,000 attendees in 2001 to 100,000 today.

If the businessmen and political heavyweights from Davos were transported to Porto Alegre - slogan "another world is possible" - they really would believe they were on a different planet.

At the five-day meeting activists, campaigners and social movements from over 150 countries come together and share experiences.

It is here where alternatives to the free trade and neo-liberalist policies promoted at Davos are openly discussed and global alliances made.

Unique

But with over 1,500 events spread out around the city there is too much choice and it becomes a little frustrating that there is no way to take everything in.

Adriano Campolina Soares
Adriano relishes the diversity of Porto Alegre
But as the biggest meeting of its kind, Porto Alegre is unique.

Where else would a gay rights march be followed moments afterwards by a pro-Palestinian protest?

Or landless people's movements from Latin American, Asia and Africa be able to sit round a table and compare notes?

Of course, conflict and disagreement are inevitable but that is half the fun.

Anti-war march

The Social Forum offers everyone, from spiked-haired punks to farmers to university professors the opportunity to make their protest and revel in the joys democracy.

What's more, as it takes place in Latin America, activists from countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, who have actually suffered at the hands of corporate-driven globalisation, can have their say.

On the first day of the Forum the people took to the streets for an anti-war march.

As Brazilian government ministers walked with protesters there was an air of great hope spreading to campaigners from all across the globe.

After all, if Lula, a left wing unionist without a university degree can be elected President, then maybe another world really is possible.



Conference colour

Eyewitness accounts

Background

TALKING POINT
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes