rn: World Social Forum in Brazil (Jan. 2001)


Jan Slakov

From: •••@••.•••
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 13:52:38 -0300


ATTAC Weekly newsletter - Wednesday 06/14/00


1- The first World Social Forum
2- ATTAC in South America
3- E Coli


The first World Social Forum

During the parallel social summit in Geneva that will be held from
June 22nd to June 24th (on the 25th there will be a demonstration in
front the WTO) several proposals will be made according to thematic
workshops and continental ones. You can participate to this work by
contacting •••@••.••• and or register with the help of the
website http://attac/org/geneve2000/ where documents are also
available. But we would like to give a special place to this proposal
that will be made during the June 24th

Porto Alegre, Brazil
January 25-30, 2001

The World Social Forum will be a new international arena for
organizing against neoliberal policies and for building economic
alternatives that prioritize social justice.  It will take place every
year in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, during the same period as
the World Economic Forum, which happens in Davos, Switzerland, at the
end of January.  Since 1971, The World Economic Forum has played a key
role in formulating neoliberal policies throughout the world. It's
sponsored by a Swiss organization that serves as a consultant to the
United Nations and it's financed by more than one thousand

The World Social Forum will provide a space for building economic
alternatives, for exchanging experiences and for strengthening
South-North alliances between NGOs, unions and social movements. It
will also be an opportunity for developing concrete actions, to
educate the public, and to mobilize civil society internationally.

The World Social Forum developed as a consequence of a growing
international movement that has gained greater visibility since the
mobilizations against the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI),
which happened in Europe in 1998, the demonstrations in Seattle,
during the WTO meeting in 1999, and the recent protests against the
IMF and the World Bank in Washington, DC, among others.

For decades, these international financial institutions have been
making decisions that affect the lives of people all over the world,
without being subject to any sort of democratic control. People in
Third World countries, as well as the poor and excluded sectors of
industrialized countries suffer the devastating effects of economic
globalization and the dictatorship of international institutions such
as the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO and the governments that serve
their interests.

We need to continue pressuring these institutions to be accountable to
our societies. Similarly, our governments must be made aware that this
oversight will be exercised with increasing intensity over their
actions. Many of us have struggled in our own countries, regions, or
cities, thinking that we were isolated. Recently, we have begun to
realize that together we can constitute a planetary archipelago of
resistance. The World Social Forum represents a new opportunity toward
the construction of an international counter-power.

Brazil is one the countries that has been greatly affected by
neoliberal policies. At the same time, different sectors of Brazilian
society are resisting these policies, in rural and urban areas, in
shantytowns, factories, political parties, churches, schools, etc. The
richness of Brazilian grassroots organizations represents a source of
inspiration for the development of the World Social Forum.

The Brazilian Organizing Committee invites international networks of
NGOs, unions and social movements to help us build the World Social
Forum. We hope to receive support from organizations in the Americas,
Africa, Asia and Europe with a commitment to contribute with this
organizing process and to send delegations to Porto Alegre in January.
We are asking for a special commitment from organizations in the First
World to help funding delegations from their partner organizations in
Third World countries, in order to guarantee diversity within the
World Social Forum.

The World Social Forum will represent a historic moment for organizing
and social change. Let's build it together!

Brazilian Organizing Committee:

 The Brazilian Association of Non-Governmental Organizations
(Associação Brasileira de Organizações Não Governamentais, ABONG)
Action for the Taxation of International Financial Transactions in
Support of Citizens (Ação pela Tributação das Transações Financeiras
em Apoio aos Cidadãos, ATTAC-BR)
The Brazilian Commission of Justice and Peace  (Comissão Brasileira de
Justiça e Paz)
CIVES - Brazilian Association of Businesses for Citizenry   
The Central Union Federation (Central Única dos Trabalhadores, CUT)
IBASE - Brazilian Institute for Social and Economic Analysis
Global Justice Center (Centro de Justiça Global)
The Landless Workers Movement  (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem
Terra, MST)

- Organizational Issues Regarding the World Social Forum

1) The World Social Forum (WSF) will take place in Porto Alegre, Rio
Grande do Sul state, Brazil, from January 25-30, 2001, the same period
in which the World Economic Forum occurs in Davos, Switzerland.

2) It will take place in the Events Center of the Pontifical Catholic
of Porto Alegre (Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Porto Alegre,
PUC), with the capacity for 2,500 people in a single auditorium. The
PUC Events Center is a modern facility with up-to-date technological
resources. The Center also has several smaller auditoriums.

3) The WSF will consist of three types of activities:  a) A series of
daily plenary sessions with several invited speakers; b) presentations
of current initiatives and exchange of experiences; c) strategy
meetings to develop networks and to strengthen ties among groups that
engage in similar forms of organization.

The plenary sessions will be scheduled by the organizers of the WSF in
accordance with suggestions by participants. The other meetings will
be organized based on the interests and requests of the participants.

4) The Events Center also has a large space for information tables and
art exhibits.

5) The Rio Grande do Sul state government and the Porto Alegre city
government (both are PT-- Workers Party administrations, the latter one for
10 consecutive years) officially support the World Social Forum.

6) The International Committee of the World Social Forum will organize
its first meeting on June 24, 2000 in Geneva, Switzerland at the same
time as the Social Summit of the United Nations' Copenhagen + 5, which
will bring together organizations and activists from all over the

 7) Our priorities until then will be: -  To invite networks of NGOs,
unions and social movements to form the International Committee of the
World Social Forum, with the responsibility of organizing the event at
the international level;

- to establish topics for speeches and presentations to be given
during the WSF, in common agreement with the International Committee;

- to invite speakers to the WSF;

-  to prepare the first meeting of the International Committee in
Geneva, Switzerland.

-  to invite Brazilian organizations for the National Support
Committee of the WSF;

- to organize logistical issues, such as the communications systems,
in conjunction with the support committee in Porto Alegre,

7) We expect to attract 2,500 representatives of NGOs, unions and
social movements, as well as elected representatives. Participants
must be registered by their organizations. We will establish quotas
for different sectors and geographic areas.    

8) The Brazilian Committee and the International Committee will be
responsible for
guaranteeing the presence of Third World organizations, in particular
from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

9) Parallel events involving the WSF speakers can be organized in
coordination with the Brazilian Committee.

10) The World Social Forum is not a decision-making body.
Participants, however, can disseminate proposals and positions
resulted from organizing meetings.

11) At the Forum's closure, we will organize a large public event. We
will also evaluate our organizing process and make decisions for the
following year.

           To get involved or to request further information, please
write to:



ATTAC in South America

1- ATTAC in Argentina

ATTAC took part in protest demonstrations against IMF policies in
Buenos Aires on May 31st.

The Argentine declaration :

AGAINST the rules laid down by the government and the IMF, and for a
tax on speculative capital to finance social development.

The IMF delegation has come to Argentina to keep a close eye on how
the government is implementing fiscal adjustments designed to
guarantee interest payments on the debt.

Over the last years, the inland revenue deficit has been growing
larger and larger for different reasons, including tolerance with
regard to tax evasion by the big groups; lack of customs control,
which is an inducement to smuggling by friends of the authorities;
business concerns that dodge their responsibilities concerning the
pension scheme, to the detriment of workers; and enormous sums being
diverted into the circuits of corruption and graft.

The government's way of covering this deficit has been to get deeper
and deeper into debt, both internally and externally.  This chronic
borrowing has not only been at the origin of some juicy business
opportunities for the "big banks", which buy into secure state bonds,
but has also mopped up all the funds of the credit system, which
otherwise would have been available for the private sector.  The
piling of debt upon debt has been a decisive element in the total
increase of the country's external debt. And because of the growing
public debt, interest paid by the state is the most strongly growing
public spending sector, representing, to date, 18% of the budget.

The IMF, which to-day is demanding adjustment and austerity for the
poor, is the same which has repeatedly condoned and approved the
fiscal imbalance of the Menem government.

The present government, which was supposed to be an alternative
representing real change, is treating this problem with a threadbare
orthodoxy. Although the proposed adjustment will be an operation
making use of anaesthetics and tranquilizers, it will cause a
deterioration of living conditions for many workers.  It will also
dampen down demand, and have an adverse effect on state allowances in
all the sectors which suffer from reductions of budget and hence of

Paradoxically, the plan of adjustment provides for restrictions in
fiscal and customs services, the consequence of which will quite
obviously be to reduce tax revenue and encourage dodging tactics.
What is more, the possibility of putting off or negotiating payments
on the debt has not even been considered by the government.

The plan of adjustment comes at a moment when international interest
rates are rising, which generates negative conditions for financing
developing countries.  Besides, it comes at a time when the state of
the economy calls for policies that stimulate or, at least do nothing
to strangle, demand.

ATTAC takes part in the protest demonstrations against the adjustment
plans of the government and the IMF.  Our participation also bears
witness to the fact that the situation Argentina is living through at
this moment is a part of a general situation involving increasing
power for financial capital and for the international organisations
which manage the international financial system.

ATTAC stresses the necessity for regulating the international capital
gains market and for applying a minimal tax on international financial
transactions, such as was proposed by the American economist and Nobel
laureat, James Tobin.  The funds thus obtained should be destined to
finance social development programmes in under-developed countries.

ATTAC-Argentine calls on our national, provincial and local
legislators, inviting them to join the world-wide campaign of
parliamentarians whose aim is to establish this tax.


First appeared in Correo Informativo n° 38 •••@••.•••
Translation Barbara Strauss •••@••.•••

2- ATTAC in Brazil



For a world without barriers

ATTAC, the MST (Brazilian landless rural workers' movement) and the
German Green party are in Sao Paolo today debating alternatives for an
agricultural system that would respect both rural workers and the
environment. This event comes in reply to repression against the
landless and shows that co-operation between social movements is a
dream that moving closer to reality every day.

You cannot kill ideas with arms! Violently repressed by a government
that reacts to popular mobilisation with "zero tolerance", a choice
target for a press obviously close to those in power, the MST will be
dialoguing with Brazilian society today, Monday 29th May. The subject
to be covered is "alternatives for world agriculture after the failure
of the world trade organisation's (WTO's) 'millennium round'".

At ATTAC's and the Heinrich Böll Foundation's invitation, a member of
the MST national bureau, Gilmar Mauro, will debate this subject with
German Green-party Euro-MP Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler and Professor
Angela Mendes de Almeida.

Discussion on the aims of agriculture could not take place at a better
moment. After the failure of its "millennium round" the WTO has
re-opened negotiations aiming at opening up markets to multinational
companies. Since the beginning of the year, two special-interest
working groups, on Agriculture and on Services, have been created in
the organisation's Geneva headquarters. The Brazilian government
maintains its defence of the widespread opening-up of agricultural
markets and of ending farmer protection such as that practised in
Europe and Japan. It sees these measures as a means of increasing
Brazil's agricultural exports, especially "tropical products". It has
no concern for the unavoidable consequence of this: the country
becoming more open to mass-produced foreign imports at prices
impossible to compete with locally. In addition, to make agricultural
deregulation easier, the government is prepared to open up Brazil's
service markets. Presented by the media as being in the nation's
interests, these measures have never been debated in any depth.

Today's debate will highlight the fact that, on the whole, these
measures are of interest only to the USA, the agribusiness and
Brazil's large land-owners. It will present an alternative: defending
agricultural multi-functionality, considered by a growing number of
agricultural movements as "The Option" in the face of the policies
their States have chosen.

A member of ATTAC and the instigator of various works on the subject,
Professor Angela Mendes de Almeida (Rio de Janeiro Federal University)
recently wrote an article on the differences between these two
positions. According to her, the Brazilian government says that it is
strengthening the characteristics of the Brazilian agricultural
structure that are the most inhuman: "crops grown over huge surfaces,
and maintained under the major landowners' orders, mainly produce for
export and take no account of nature". This type of model, which is of
obvious interest to the agri-industry's major multinationals, is what
Angela calls "productivist agriculture". It is characterised by
"producing at a low cost, aiming mainly at profit-making, without
taking into account the products' quality (using hormones in cattle
rearing and planting transgenic crops) or environmental protection,
and certainly not the 'social' problem".

Supporters of the alternative proposal, explains Angela, see
agriculture as having other functions: "firstly, producing for the
groups of society who have problems, exporting being a subsidiary
activity only"; "being a factor for bringing people together in an
activity that they enjoy and are proud of"; "being concerned with the
products' quality"; "integrating a high number of workers in
complementary tasks, thus creating increased circulation of
merchandise and money"; "protecting the environment" and "being
concerned with the beauty of the rural landscape, a landscape dense
with humanity".

Presented in writing to the debate's organisers, German MP Wolfgang
Kreissl-Dörfler's speech is notable in its criticism of the left wing
in relation to EU agricultural policy. Wolfgang does not question
public aid to farmers, but remarks that most of this aid "gets to the
wrong address": big producers, who receive aid according to quantity
and surface, the hauliers and the silo owners". In co-operation with
the "environmentalists" and alternative agricultural organisations, he
demands "a different agrarian policy for the European Union". He
proposes to direct subsidies to producers who respect a set of
ecological and social criteria, such as those against the abusive use
of chemicals and for an increase in the number of people employed in
rural areas.

The Green-party MP also criticises productivism, and the proposal for
agricultural deregulation defended by the Fernando Henrique Cardoso
(FHC) government. "If the EU totally opened up its markets, Brazilian
land-owners would push even harder to expulse small farmers from their
land, to produce even more for export", he reminds. In consistency
with this position, he also condemns the subsidies the EU proposes for
exporting agricultural products: "we, the Green party, believe that
Europe should focus on its internal market. What is the point in
encouraging European cattle producers to produce so much beef and
milk, using cheap Brazilian soya, and subsequently flood the Brazilian
market with meat and dairy produce sold cheaper its than national

Gilmar Mauro's opinions are awaited with great curiosity and caution.
Angela maintains that "the movement (MST) has everything to do with
multi-functionality" as, instead of bringing about a population drain
like large estates worked by machines, small estates would on the
contrary populate rural areas, bring the excluded out of the cities
and create a new rural landscape, with a dense human population". In
addition, in Latin America the landless are one of the organisations
that are working to build "Via Campesina", an international front made
up of peasant movements who are fighting for alternative agriculture.

Article written by Antonio Martins of ATTAC Sao Paulo. Translation by
Greta van den Bempt, Sand in the Wheels' correspondent in Porto Alegre
(Brazil) •••@••.•••.


E Coli

The City of Walkerton, in the Province of Ontario, in the Country of
Canada, has experienced a widewspread outbreak of a bacteria that has
killed to date seven people and has been implicated in many more
deaths.  What has turned up in the course of investigation as to why a
municipal water supply could be so contaminated is the reduction of
funds to the provincial Ministry of Environment such that reports of
contaminated wells in as far back as 1995 were not heeded and
responded to by the Ministry of the Environment because cutbacks to
that Ministry left the Ministry without the means to follow up.  The
shit has hit the proverbial fan.  Walkerton has been the wake-up call.
All municipalities are now testing their water on a daily basis.  The
latest news is that Lloydtown is now a community faced with E.coli
present in their water source of the strain which killed the seven
people in Walkerton.  Torrential rains continue.  A psychiatric
hospital in St. Thomas is reporting E. coli in its water supply.  What
is becoming more apparent is that the Conservative government led by
Mike Harris, having cut back funds to the environment, is now in a
race to save face.  But there's no amount of propaganda, though he
well tries, to save the government of the day.  The opposition has
tabled a bill calling for the resignation of the government, but it's
not likely that it will receive second reading. Meanwhile, as rain
continues to fall and farms, both private and on an industrial-scale,
continue to be inundated, the danger of this deadly form of E. coli
persists.  As each day goes by, one wonders when the next community
faces the diagnosis that this deadly bacteria is in their water
supply.  Here is a primary example of a conservative government who
boldfacedledly declares itself, in partnership with private interests,
a protector of the common interests. Yah, right.  I am now seeking the
means to have an election called when these issues are ripe in the
people's mind.  If anyone can help in the strategics of such a call to
vote, please, my email is