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Rain and lack of organization watered down the opening ceremony

World Social Forum opens with a march

Organizations championing the rights of women made several performances to make their fight known (Photo: El Universal)

SARA CAROLINA DIAZ
EL UNIVERSAL

The Sixh World Social Forum officially opened on Tuesday in Caracas with a march from Las Tres Gracias square ending in Los Próceres boulevard, southwest Caracas, two hours later than scheduled because of an intermittent rain over the Venezuelan capital city and especially because of what delegates branded as an apparent lack of organization.

Neither reason, however, prevented members of more than 100 international groups championing what the skeptical called "lost causes" from gathering in Caracas. They shouted, sang and used disguises, banners, leaflets and slogans to let the world know the raison d'etre of their organizations. They comprised groups defending the rights of women, the environment, labor, fair trade, as well as organization against racism, terror, imperialism, and against US President George W. Bush. Others championed peace, while others were merely political delegations, such as the one representing the Colombian Communist Party.

Some of the groups present at the opening ceremony Tuesday included Hands off Venezuela, Hands off Haiti, ActionAid International, Campaign Against the Death Penalty in US, Network of Solidary Women from Argentina and Global Justice.

Local delegates were the members of the peasants organization Ezequiel Zamora and a group called Manuelita Saenz. Pro-government Bolivarian Circles also took part in the event.

Delegates started marching amid water and mud, but with enthusiasm and good mood, especially those from Colombia, who played sonorous and rhythmical cumbias making people remind legendary festivals such as Glastonbury or Woodstock, but with Latin color and heat.

Some inconsistencies were detected in slogans the delegates chanted, such as "Your mouth is fundamental against fundamentalism." Others praised Marxism, Leninism, and Maoism.

"We do not feel like being a US colony; we do feel like being a South American power," was one of the most frequently heard slogans in Tuesday march.

Meanwhile, Caracas faced a serious traffic jam all day long because of this demonstration and because of the closure of Bolívar avenue, the major road in the Venezuelan capital downtown.

When comparing the event in Caracas with a previous forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazilian delegate Luiz Enrique Sosa said at the Brazilian forum he saw "many more people" and more groups. He also added that the event in Brazil was more organized. "This is not like Porto Alegre, there things were more organized," said Sosa.

Conferences and activities scheduled under the Fourth World Social Forum are starting Wednesday. The event is expected to end on Sunday.

Translated by Maryflor Suárez R.

Sara Carolina Diaz6
EL UNIVERSAL


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