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.

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Barry Stoller

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