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Summar of the International Social Forum in Argentina
Por Marie Trigona and Kenny Litzenberger - Friday, Aug. 23, 2002 at 9:09 PM
The 22nd of August marked the opening actions of the first International Social Forum in Argentina. An estimated 5,000 people convened in the Plaza Houssey to listen to the forum’s opening remarks.
Summary of the opening actions of the “Foro Social Mundial en Argentina” International Social Forum in Argentina
by Marie Trigona and Kenny Litzenberger
The 22nd of August marked the opening actions of the first International Social Forum in Argentina. An estimated 5,000 people convened in the Plaza Houssey to listen to the forum’s opening remarks. The participants left Plaza de Mayo after participating in the Madres de Plaza de Mayo weekly protest and continued marching through the of Buenos Aires. The banners of some of the 600 social organizations participating in the forum presented the diversity of organizations contributing to the days’ events. Many of the opening speakers rearticulated the forum’s organizing committee’s slogan “Otro mundo es possible, otra argentina es possible (Another world is possible, another Argentina is possible).” Sentiments among participants were strongly in support of the message but many organizations not participating criticized the reformist nature of the slogan and the forum. “The forum’s objective is to reform this system and not to change it,” remarked a young participant.
Opening remarks from committee members echoed ideals of an absolute platform against the neoliberal development model and hopes for a “new utopia”. “Neoliberalism’s crisis in Argentina and the challenges of the global movement” is the forum’s theme.
Within the opening remarks of the forum, speakers from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Mexico denounced the IMF and World Bank’s methods, Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, and Plan Colombia. Evo Morales, former presidential candidate, indigenous leader and representative from the Bolivian coca leaves producers union, powerfully expressed that he came to the forum to be “united here in defense of life.” While condemning international lending institutions and U.S. intervention in Bolivia and Latin America he stated, “They say that we are terrorists, the terrorists are those who apply an economic model that slowly kills us.”
Criticisms of the forum include, that radical perspectives are not included within the forum’s debate. “Those who are organizing the forum are from intellectual sectors connected to the democratic institutional establishment who are defending the system and want to change things a little bit but not a lot, reform is the objective”, critiqued Marcel, a journalist with a counter-information collective, Argentina Arde. Auspiciously, missing from the forum’s organization were most of the popular assemblies, autonomous worker collectives, and almost all of the piquetero movement.
In conjunction to the Social Forum many decentralized events will be taking place. Many organizations not invited by the organizers, planed activities outside of the forum’s organized events. Many of these include alternative media workshops and popular organizing strategies. The forum’s organized debate panels on Friday will discuss, “The Argentine crisis in the context of global capitalism”, The Neoliberal state and the crisis of democracy”, Neoliberalism and North American hegemony in Latin America”, and “The deterioration of social rights by capitalism”. It remains to be seen whether concrete strategies will develop during the hundreds of workshops and panel discussions during these next few days through the forum. Surely, the Social Forum in Argentina will open a space for discussion and networking.