Mérida, January 30th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) — Social movements in Latin America have been in the “trenches of resistance” against global capitalism, and now need to move to an “offensive,” taking concrete steps toward the creation of alternatives to capitalism, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez expressed during a speech to thousands of participants in the World Social Forum Thursday in Belém do Pará, Brazil.
“Just like Latin America and the Caribbean received the biggest dose of neo-liberal venom, our continent has been the immense territory where social movements have sprouted with the greatest strength and begun to change the world,” said Chávez.
Chávez expanded upon the traditional slogan of the World Social Forum, “Another world is possible,” adding, “another world is necessary, and another world is being born in Latin America and the Caribbean!”
The Venezuelan president, who was joined by several allies in the region, Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva of Brazil, and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, emphasized that the drive toward social justice has taken on a new character since leaders with leftist policies have been democratically elected over the past decade.
“Revolutions are no longer guerrilla battalions, no! This is a new revolutionary wave,” Chávez asserted, requesting that social movements “step up their popular offensive toward revolutionary changes.”
Thousands of activists from Latin America and abroad welcomed the heads of state with a thunderous ovation. The audience included radical organizations such as the Landless Worker’s Movement (MST) in Brazil and the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) in Ecuador, which have criticized their governments for not moving far enough from the policies dictated by global financial institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Outside of the event, a few hundred members of Brazil’s United Socialist Workers Party (PSTU) protested against Lula, a former factory worker and union leader who they said has made to excessive concessions to bankers and big business and done little to stabilize employment in the wake of the world economic crisis.
The Brazilian President blamed the economic crisis on the “casino” capitalism promoted by Global North countries, and said the crisis is much more severe and could get worse.
President Correa agreed, using more decisive rhetoric against U.S.-dominated institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. “Using the art of deception they will try to confuse us into thinking the victims are the guilty ones,” he said. “They are the ones responsible for the crisis. They are not the ones to give us lessons.”
Correa, whose promotion of state-run industrial mining have been met with heated resistance from CONAIE and many environmental organizations in the Andean country, criticized transnational mining companies for destroying Latin America’s environment in search of natural resources.
“It is very comfortable for the First World to say, ‘Take care of the Amazon, don't drill, don't extract resources,’ while they prey on its natural treasures and achieve luxurious lifestyles while our people wallow in misery and receive nothing in return,” Correa said. “We have to demand co-responsibility.”
President Chávez, who has headed up several regional integration initiatives, encouraged unity among Latin American and Caribbean movements, in order to chart an independent path toward development.
“This year will be hard, we must unite,” Chávez said. “Our socialism should not be a copy. Our socialism should be a heroic creation… Socialism of ‘our America,’ a profoundly democratic socialism. This is our path.”
The World Social Forum originated in 2001 and has since expanded to include regional social forums in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and South Asia. It is “an open meeting space” where people opposed to capitalist and imperialist domination of the world exchange and debate ideas, and plan strategies for constructing alternatives, according to its website.