The world's biggest gathering of leftist activists ended on Sunday, after six days of discussions and protests that participants said showed there was an alternative to a crumbling global capitalist system.
The World Social Forum brought about 100,000 activists to the Brazilian Amazon city of Belem ranging from communists railing against "U.S. imperialism to environmentalists and more moderate socialists."
Timed to coincide with the Davos meeting of business leaders in Switzerland, this year's Forum attracted a record number of government leaders.
"People see capitalism as not being able to maintain itself and there's a hope that it can't too," said Shannon Bell, a politics professor at Toronto's York University who attended meetings on "eco-socialism" at the Forum.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's government spent about $50 million on the Forum and brought a dozen cabinet ministers.
Four other leftist Latin American presidents also visited and received a heroes' welcome. Rather than making binding decisions, the Forum's main role is as a huge networking and discussion opportunity for activists.
The global crisis was a common theme, with many saying it showed that free-market capitalism was on its last legs.
"The financial side of the world was never the part that really moved the world. The world is moved by people," said Luis Fabiano Celestrino, a 35-year-old self-described "idealist" with the Revolution of the Spoon vegetarian group.
"The World Social Forum shows what people are thinking about the most basic problems -- just hearing proposals for solving them makes this worthwhile."
Banners set up around the forum by radical leftists berated world governments for their bailouts, saying trying to save capitalism was "barbaric."
Silva, who made an appearance along with the leaders of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, took a more moderate tack, telling the United States and other rich nations "to resolve this crisis so the poor countries can develop."
AgenciesLast Mod: 02 Şubat 2009, 12:01