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Porto Alegre, Warming Up

26 January 2005
Wow, the forum is beginning to bubble in Porto Alegre. Busloads of people from all over the country are still arriving (more than 60,000 registered yesterday), and queue to get a paper version of the programme this morning stretched at least 45-minutes long. I’ve been in Brazil for nearly a month now, and have noticed that even people who don’t participate in the WSF refer to it as o forum – “the Forum”. There is great public awareness of it, and lots of people come along to support it and celebrate it, without any specific purpose or membership card. Since the forum in 2003, there have been some changes in Porto Alegre. After 16 years in power, the worker’s party, PT, lost local elections. The PPS party (formerly communist, now less so) took over in 2004 in a coalition of more than ten parties, on a campaign promise of continuing the participatory budget and the World Social Forum, and blowing new life into the prefeito (local government). (Tarso Genro, who was the PT mayor of Porto Alegre for two terms is now Brazil’s Minister of State) Today’s local paper says the next WSF will follow a new format and will be split thematically into a number of different forums around the world (can’t wait to hear more about that). In 2007, the forum will then be held all together somewhere in Africa. And so, the editorial laments the fact that this will be the last time in the next couple of years that Porto Alegre will earn much-welcomed WSF revenue. Check the links on the left for more news from the forum. James arrived by bus last night. And we’ve invited Vince Medeiros to post to this blog throughout the week too. I think next stop for me is the opening “celebration of diversity” march today at 16:00. They’ve promised giant floats/dolls from the Australian group Snuff Puppets. Fun.

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