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IATP's Alexandra Strickner is reporting from the 9th World Social Forum in Belém, Brazil.

WSF globe During the afternoon on January 27, the 9th World Social Forum opened with a colorful march with more than 60,000 people representing social movements, trade unions and civil society organizations from all over the world. (See a few photos from the march) The march started amidst a heavy tropical rain that lasted for more than an hour, with most people celebrating this big collective shower. Even those equipped with umbrellas did not escape getting wet.

Marchers expressed their opposition and resistance to the current model of development and to governments' responses to global crises. They also advocated for alternatives--from food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture to reclaiming of the commons and democracy.

WSF 1 Before this Forum even started, one big success can already be noted: the enormous presence of Indigenous movements. The decision to hold the World Social Forum in the Amazonian region is certainly an important factor, as well as the strengthening of Indigenous movements in recent years. The first day of the Forum has been particularly dedicated to the Amazon region. In the first discussion on food sovereignty, representatives from Indigenous movements throughout Latin America made it clear that they not only want to be fully part of this process and participate as actors, but that they also have a long history of living with nature, without harming the earth´s natural resources, while producing healthy food for their people.

WSF 3 In their deliberations, they called upon all social movements and civil society organizations to participate in a worldwide day of mobilization on October 12 for the “Mama Pacha”--the mother earth. The mobilization would support a socially and ecologically sustainable way of living and the rejection of the agri-industrial model that destroys the earth's and people's health.

One novelty of this World Social Forum is also a program that aims to articulate the politics with art. Articulation Latinoamericana cultura y politica (Latin American Articulation of Culture and Politics) (ALCAP) creates a space of interaction between social movements and popular artists in the search for new ways to reach out to people and communicate about struggles and alternatives. IATP has been invited to participate in one of the panel debates of this project.