world social forum 2005: demonstration of well over 100,000 people on first day

Well over 100,000 people turned out on a scorching afternoon in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to participate in a demonstration that marked the opening of the fifth World Social Forum.

The organisers, aware of the growing anger against the Lula government sought to paper over divisions in the global justice movement by foisting the innocious theme of ’world peace’ on the demonstration and calling on participating contingents to refrain from harsh criticism of the government.

However anybody attending the march itself could not help but hear the loud anti Lula slogans. It was the minority of PT (Workers Party) supporters and their ’100% for Lula’ t shirts who where out of step with the prevailing mood on the march.

Leading the anti Lula chants was a vibrant and youthful PSOL (Party of Socialism and Liberty) contingent, perhaps a thousand strong. The PSOL is the fasting growing political force in Brazil. Born out of a left split from the PT flowing from Lula’s rightward trajectory and quickly winning thousands of of the best youth and activists to its banner. Though still in its infancy the PSOL is already registering between 3-5% in opinion polls.

The internal life of the party is marked by freedom of political expression and Socialismo Revolucionario, the CWI section in Brazil has engaged fully in debate and activity.

The CWI contingent and the demonstration numbered around sixty members and supporters, mostly from Brazil itself but including comrades from Britain, Sweden, Ireland, Belgium, Chile, Germany, US and France.

In an environment where most political newspapers are given away for free we sold almost 800.


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January 2005