Dear All,
I'm back from Porto Alegre, where on the huge and beautiful Catholic University Campus (thanks to the historically progressive Jesuits of the even more progressive Bishops Conference of Brazil) the World Social Forum was held.

What Happened
Apparently, it was a total success. In figures:
• more than 10,000 delegates
• representing more than a thousand organizations
• from more than 120 countries of all continents
• More than 400 workshops and a number of lectures.

The gross of the people were from Latin America, specially Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia (yes, FARCs), Mexico (Chiapas, the "Zapatistas") etc, and Cuba, also a lot from Africa and some from Asia, Oceania and Europe -specially France. The main organisers were Attac, the Sem Terra Movement (no land) and the Governments of the State of Rio Grande do Sul and its Capital, the Porto Alegre Municipality, both in the hands of the PT (Labour Party)
The audience was constituted mainly by Trade Unions and Peasants Without Land Associations and a lot, lot of Feminist and Women movements from all over the planet, besides all sort of ecological and human rights international groups.

There was a very 'combative' climate, with flags, slogans and a whole atmosphere towards the left. The three key words were Solidarity, Equality and Socialism, and the three basic 'villains' (besides Globalisation and Ultra-Liberalism) were Competition, External Debt and Plan Colombia -USA intervention in Colombia-and openly or between the lines, Capitalism. The intention is to transform Globalisation into Internationalism, and Free (ultra liberal) Competition into Co-operation.

During the Opening and Closing Assemblies, there were very long and standing ovations for (first) the Cuban Delegation, (second) the Sem Terra Movement, and (third) the Colombia Guerrilla and the Chiapas 'Zapatistas'. It was a sort of 'Non-violence', Revolutionary climate, because e group of noisy young extremists from the PSTU (a small Trotski's party) who were yelling revolutionary war slogans, were hooted and booed all the time. The prevalent idea, the target was a type of Democratic Socialism.

During the different Conferences and work shops (you will see later the Program) a much more moderated line prevailed, the only complain being the dominant tone of "lecture" over the "debate", i.e.: long prepared talks by university professors (narrow, technical and boring), left very little time for questions, less for observations and much less for debating...about democracy, of course! So there were little friendly "insurgencies" against that, to which we added our voices.

By the middle/end of the Forum two outstanding events called all the attentions:
1) the TV 'debate' Davos-Porto Alegre (hypocrisy on the one hand from the first / hot blood on the other hand from the second, but meaning anyway that the Forum was very well noted by the World Bosses)
2) and the 'international-solidarity' action by the Brazilian Sem-Terra and the French Peasant Leader Bové, attacking together a Monsanto Transgenic Test Plant in the South. Events that the Official Press (the local one at least) painted in the usual colours:
a) the predisposition to the debate from Davos(the establishment) / the violent inflexible rage from Porto Alegre (the left);
b) the unacceptable interference of a well known French agitator (Bové) into another country's business against a nice scientific global corporation (Monsanto) researching for the well-being of humanity.
Thanks to the well known truculence of the local police, the second almost became an international diplomatic incident: Bové was expelled from Brazil, with a 'kidnapping' type action from the part of the police, with the consequential intervention of the French authorities, etc etc.
Very funny.
As far as we know, the only two concrete measures taken by the Forum were to
1) Keep holding a Forum year after year, always on the same date as Davos, in principle in Porto Alegre, but with other regional 'mini-meetings' at the same time.
2) Creating a central permanent co-ordinating committee, grouping all the participant entities.

Our 'action'
We were there (I say 'we' because I counted with my attendant collaboration), handling day after day our 'pamphlets' (that were divided into five equal numbers, being there and intervening in all possible opportunities, establishing relations, chatting and exchanging ideas during lunch time, intervals etc.

The receptivity to SIMPOL was always good, I heard many times the same: "Oh! At last something different!"
I handled and receive a great number of e-mail addresses.

Now, I would recommend doing two or three basic things:
1) Try to be in touch and to be part of the coordinating committee.
2) Propose and organise a workshop about Simultaneous Policy for next year Forum.
3) Analize the resulting documents (under preparation) of this Forum and take our conclusions.
Well, fellow-mates, I thank you for the opportunity (and the honour) of representing you all and our nice-little SIMPOL community.

Go ahead and ask all the questions you have. No doubt I have forgotten a number of things.

Judith Biglione