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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 10:10 GMT
Diary: The World Social Forum

By Anna Mitchell
Oxfam worker at the World Social Forum in Brazil

The opening march
The crowds are demanding justice
The World Social Forum is underway and I am beginning to get a feel for the place. Its big, its loud and its non stop.

Somewhere between 120,000 and 200,000 people took part in the opening march, filling the streets of the city with colour, noise and a feeling of carnival.

There were banners and flags everywhere, people of every age, colour and political belief, people on stilts, people chanting, people playing music and dancing.

And for the grand finale, a music festival with none other then Gilberto Gil, Brazils Minister of Culture, entertaining the crowd alongside Manu Chau and others until the early hours of the morning.

Global Call

Play over; the next morning it was time to work.

Global Call for Action against Poverty
Global Call for Action against Poverty was launched in Brazil

The big event of this year's social forum has got to be the launch of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, the world's biggest mobilization against poverty and injustice.

The Global Call is a worldwide alliance of hundreds of organizations that are calling on global leaders to seize the opportunity in 2005 to take action and end poverty through debt cancellation, more and better aid, trade justice and national action.

This morning I crawled out of bed at 5.30 to join volunteers from as far afield as India and Ghana to prepare for the launch.

It was a fabulous event. More than 12,000 people crowded into the stadium and thousands more filled the streets outside.

President Lula of Brazil attended to express his support and to receive the first white wristband, the symbol of the campaign, amid chanting, and a certain amount of heckling from Brazilians unhappy with his performance in office.

Lula was joined by speakers from across the globe, including Wahu Kaara from the All Africa Conference on Churches who laid down the gauntlet to him and leaders across the world telling the crowd: "Lets make poverty history because there are no excuses any more. We will wear the white band to continually remind our leaders of their responsibility to fight poverty."

Inspiring stuff.


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