AFP. 3 February 2002. Resolution condemning US "axis of evil" stance issued by World Social Forum.
PORTO ALEGRE -- A strongly-worded resolution condemning the United States for designating Iran, Iraq and North Korea as targets in the US war on terror, was issued here, esteeming "war cannot be the way to solve the world's problems." Delegates to the World Congressional Forum, held on the margins of the World Social Forum, condemned Saturday the Bush administration's decision to warn the three countries, termed an "axis of evil," they were under close US scrutiny for ties to terror. Five hundred of the 1,155 lawmakers from 40 countries gathered here to support the anti-globalization efforts of the second-annual World Social Forum voted at their final plenary session to state they were "convinced that a military escalation will not conquer terrorism and that war cannot be the way to solve the world's problems." Developing nations' foreign debt -- dubbed "economic terrorism" by Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel -- remained a major topic of the seminars, debates and panel discussions that make up the World Social Forum, which attracted 10,000 young people among its 60,000 participants, organizers said. So, too, did the current economic crisis embroiling Esquivel's country -- as demonstrators banging their pots and pans to the rhythm of an infectious samba paraded the streets to show solidarity with Argentines enduring nearly four years of agonizing recession. The Forum convened its own court to debate the merits of external debt and after two days of largely ceremonial deliberations, ruled that the debt burden of southern hemispheric countries is "illegitimate, unjust and unsustainable" because it was "ordained outside of national and international law without consulting the people." The defendants, "transnational banks and corporations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, northern hemisphere governments" were found guilty and ordered to "pay restitution for the wealth stolen from the south and the damage they have caused." Earlier Saturday, in the second full day of the six-day conference that gathered social activists from 150 countries for discourse and strategizing to end the disconnect between the northern and southern hemispheres that fuels globalization, activists paraded their causes like models down a runway. In two-hour slots, social concerns like police brutality, feminism, the liberation of Palestine and the electoral campaign of Brazil's Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva masquerading as citizen advocacy, took to the stage, their proponents blowing whistles, showing off T-shirts and chanting slogans. At its final plenary session, the Congressional Forum's delegates pledged "solidarity" with the Argentine people, "who have, since December, embarked on a popular protest after neoliberal politics that have only aggravated the economic, political and social crisis," a resolution's text read. "It's the clearest demonstration of the failure of neoliberalism in Latin America, when politics prevent economic growth, send our countries plunging into debt and menace our sovereignty." Woven through discussions at a Social Forum session devoted to health was the reality that 72 percent of the world's population lives in developing nations that account for barely seven percent of global pharmaceutical sales, with one-third of humanity unable to access medicine. In some parts of Africa and Asia, the toll exceeds 50 percent. "Between 1979 and 2002, only one percent of new research was focused on tropical illnesses," said Michel Lotrowska of Doctors Without Borders. "For malaria, sleeping sickness, we use drugs from 40 years ago," he said. "There are no drugs to treat dengue, which is currently reaching epidemic proportions in Brazil." Noted Belgian activist Eric Toussaint of the Committee to Annul Third World Debt: an outlay of 80 billion dollars over 10 years -- less than one-third of the annual service of external debt -- would guarantee every world citizen access to education, basic health care, adequate nutrition, potable water and sanitation. But while organizers hailed the astounding success of the Forum, attracting 10,000 more participants than planned, uninvited activist Hebe de Bonafini of the Argentine Mothers of May Plaza group, complained bitterly the Forum was caving in, inviting "leaders, not fighters." "When they don't invite the fighters like the Zapatistas, or Fidel (Castro, Cuban president) and the Mothers (of May Place), it shows that the Social Forum is becoming Socially-Democratic," she said. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barry Stoller http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ProletarianNews