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January 2005

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CPA Attends World Social Forum 2005

Published in the Hapit (October 2004-March 2005 Issue)

Three delegates from the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) participated in the World Social Forum (WSF) held on January 26-31, 2005 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The CPA delegates were Mr. Windel Bolinget (CPA Secretary General), Ms. Lulu Gimenez (Alliance of Peasants in the Cordillera Homeland), and Dr. Ana Leung (Save the Abra River Movement).

The World Social Forum is one of the biggest gatherings of civil society formations, nongovernment organizations, resistance movements, and funding agencies who believe that "Another world (free from globalization) is possible." The WSF was held in a venue spanning 10 kilometers from end to end and could easily accommodate the more than 10,000 participants.

CPA's delegates participated in the event in order to promote the issues of Cordillera's indigenous peoples, as well as our campaigns against the liberalization of mining and agriculture, and the privatization of water resources. The other delegates were struck by our stories about Benguet Corporation's proposal to use their old open-pit as water reservoir for Baguio, Lepanto's continued pollution of the Abra River, and the militarization of peasant lands in behalf of local and multinational corporations. In addition, Dr. Ana Leung participated in health-related events as representative of the People's Health Movement-Philippines.

Among the many workshops, CPA participated in the following: Speak-Out on Fight for UN Treaty on Right to Water, Coalition for a Global Contract Among Water Movements, Strategies of social movements to defend water against free trade agreements and International Finance Institutions, and how IMF constrains health and education budgets.

The World Social Forum gives us a glimpse of the various efforts that exist all over the world to resist globalization (including its three pillars of liberalization, deregulation and privatization). It serves as a broad venue and a continuing challenge for the Cordillera Peoples Alliance to unite with various groups with similar struggles and promote its campaign for the defense of land, life and resources.

Questions remain however about the directions and (lack of) concrete accomplishments of the WSF. As one Indian delegate observed, "I don't see many poor people. Brazil has a very large, if not the largest number, of African-American people. Where are they?" In relation to this, it was observed that since self-organized events predominate, marginalized peoples of the world who do not have the means to organize their own workshops, are at a disadvantage. Another criticism is the inability of the WSF to unite the participants even on the most basic calls.

But the most insightful criticism about the WSF is its romantic depiction that "Another world is possible." The WSF fails to draw out a concrete line and plan of action for building worldwide resistance and fails to narrow the target to imperialist globalization.# Windel Bolinget

Published with financial contribution from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation
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