Published on Sunday, February 3, 2002 by Agence France Presse

Resolution Condemning US "Axis of Evil" Stance Issued by World Social Forum
 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.

Opponents of discrimination and violence against women shout slogans during
the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Saturday February 2, 2002.
The five-day Social Forum is a shadow event to the World Economic Forum that
this year brings powerful politicians and businessmen from around the world
to New York City.(AP Photo/Dado Galdieri)
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

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."

Her remarks might have been due to sour grapes, as her harassment of
billionaire financier George Soros during a videoconference at last year's
forum kept her off the invite list by organizers striving for legitimacy.

"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.

Copyright 2002 AFP ---------------------------

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