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World Social Forum 2009

NewsNotes, March-April 2009

This year’s World Social Forum (WSF) was held from January 27-February 1 in Brazil. Following are excerpts from the declaration crafted by this year’s attendees. We include this declaration in NewsNotes because the WSF is a process that gives a unique voice to a wide variety of popular movements, with strong representation from the global South.

We, the social movements from all over the world,  ... are here in Latin America, where over the last decade social and indigenous movements have joined forces and radically questioned the capitalist system from their cosmovision. Over the last few years in Latin America, highly radical social struggles have resulted in the overthrow of neoliberal governments and the empowerment of governments that have carried out many positive reforms such as the nationalization of core sectors of the economy and democratic constitutional reforms.

In this context the social movements in Latin America have responded appropriately, deciding to support the positive measures adopted by these governments while keeping a critical distance. These experiences will ... help ... strengthen the peoples’ staunch resistance against the policies of governments, corporations and banks who shift the burden of the crisis onto the oppressed. We the social movements of the globe are currently facing a historic challenge. The international capitalist crisis manifests itself as detrimental to humankind in various ways: it affects food, finance, the economy, climate, energy, population migration …  and civilization itself, as there is also a crisis in international order and political structures.

We are facing a global crisis which is a direct consequence of the capitalist system and therefore cannot find a solution within the system. All the measures that have been taken so far to overcome the crisis merely aim at socializing losses so as to ensure the survival of a system based on privatizing strategic economic sectors, public services, natural and energy resources and on the commoditization of life and the exploitation of labor and nature as well as on the transfer of resources from the periphery to the center and from workers to the capitalist class.

The present system is based on exploitation, competition, promotion of individual private interests to the detriment of the collective interest, and the frenzied accumulation of wealth by a handful of rich people. It results in bloody wars, fuels xenophobia, racism and religious fundamentalisms; it intensifies the exploitation of women and the criminalization of social movements. In the context of the present crisis the rights of peoples are systematically denied. ...

In order to overcome the crisis we have to grapple with the root of the problem and progress as fast as possible towards the construction of a radical alternative that would do away with the capitalist system and patriarchal domination. We must work towards a society that meets social needs and respects nature’s rights as well as supporting democratic participation in a context of full political freedom. We must see to it that all international treaties on our indivisible civic, political, economic, social and cultural rights, both individual and collective, are implemented.

In this perspective we must contribute to the largest possible popular mobilization to enforce a number of urgent measures such as:

  • Nationalizing the banking sector without compensations and with full social monitoring,
  • Reducing working time without any wage cut,
  • Taking measures to ensure food and energy sovereignty
  • Stopping wars, withdraw occupation troops and dismantle military foreign bases
  • Acknowledging peoples’ sovereignty and autonomy ensuring their right to self-determination
  • Guaranteeing rights to land, territory, work, education and health for all.
  • Democratize access to means of communication and knowledge.
  • The social emancipation …  support[s] forms of ownership that favor the social interest: small family freehold, public, cooperative, communal and collective property.

Such an alternative will necessarily be feminist since it is impossible to build a society based on social justice and equality of rights when half of humankind is oppressed and exploited.

Lastly, we commit ourselves to enriching the construction of a society based on a life lived in harmony with oneself, others and the world around (“el buen vivir”) by acknowledging the active participation and contribution of the native peoples.

We, the social movements, are faced with a historic opportunity to develop emancipatory initiatives on a global scale. Only through the social struggle of the masses can populations overcome the crisis. In order to promote this struggle, it is essential to work on consciousness-raising and mobilization from the grassroots. The challenge for the social movements is to achieve a convergence of global mobilization…

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