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After Chavez

31 January 2005

It’s 10pm and Chavez just finished his speech to the cheers of people a few miles away in the Gasometro cultural centre, which is at the heart of much forum activity. People have been watching it live on widescreens in the pressroom and in the main hall.

That president sure likes to talk. I attended the press conference with him earlier today, and he quipped how he and Fidel Castro (another famous motormouth) had a conversation not long ago that lasted nine and a half hours. I believe him.

But seriously, there is something really great about hearing a politician speak his mind and not beat around the bush – certainly not President Bush. So many of the things he says could have come straight from the mouth of a youth camp dweller. Against imperialism, for the people, for the environment. For the revolution.

He also spoke of the new Latin American TV Network, Telesur, which he is helping to create to counter disinformation from the commercial mass media, like that which occurred when Chavez was kidnapped in an attempted coup in 2002.

I left the press conference early to catch the end of the “Future of the WSF” event that Caspar mentions below. Once I got there Caspar took off to try and catch Chavez at the Gigantinho stadium. It’s our version of being everywhere at once.

On this issue of the "Porto Alegre Consensus" now dubbed the G-19 or Group of 19 (think G7). This wasn’t a name they came up with themselves – an article in a newspaper called TerraViva coined the term. And people like Immanuel Wallerstein – one of the signees – is not happy with it. According to him the whole proposal is born from the fact that no one has the power over the WSF.

Fair enough, but when you have two Nobel prize winners among the originators and big names like Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Eduardo Galleano, Tariq Ali, Jose Saramago and Frei Betto among them, it’s no wonder there are few raised eyebrows about whether they are pulling rank, and trying to hijack the process. I don't think there is anything sinister about the idea - but I do think that reaching a consensus in this global gathering is a little optimistic. And probably not what the forum should be focussing on. (more on that soon)

I haven’t found the text of the proposal online yet. But there is supposed to be one in four different languages on www.ipsterraviva.net - let me know if you find it.

(photos by Ross Johnson)

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