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27 January 2005

A few more jottings from the now well-underway Forum. I spoke to one of the participants in yesterday's opening march, who complained that the Brazillian media only cover the leftist Carnaval, steering well away from the huddled masses in their worthy but sweltering meetings, in the massed tents by the river. I can see why. The programme of events comes in three full-sized magazines; the opening march nailed this diaspora's diversity and oddity in one afternoon. There were old politics (red flags; signs proclaiming "luta", hammers, clenched fists), new politics (green flags, signs with trees), and odd politics (the gender movement, pink flags, a big sign loosely translated as "anal sex will screw capitalism"). And throughout the omnipresent totem of America. A friend quizzed other marchers on the most pressing worry facing the world. Given the often bizarre number of causes on offer he thought this would return an equally wide spread of issues. Not a bit of it; everyone answered "Booosh". Given this the first day ended oddly. Brazilian hero (and Minister for the Future) Gilberto Gil wrapped up his set with a balad tale of a 1940s brazillian actress who moved to Holywood. The final chorus, again roughly translated, repeats: "We all love America". All 20,000-odd in the crowd sang along.

This mornings dose of "100% Lula" - which Caspar has ably written-up below - more than demonstrated that this wasn't exactly what they meant. The 100-strong contingent of renegage PSOL - expelled from Lula's PT party last year - held pictures they considered most damning: their hero shaking hands with You Know Who. The mostly Brazillian, mostly pro-Lula crowd responded with volleys of boos and rolled-up paper directed towards the dissenter's section. The protestors parleyed with chants to the effect that Lula was a Comrade in Blair's clothing: he promised much, delivered little; he said he would do one thing; he did they other. The Lula-istas fought-back with ever-louder chants of "oh-ay, oh-ay, oh-aay! Looolaaa! Loooola!", and more rolled-up paper. And, from the stage, their President answered the chants: "I was a young radical once" he said, "just as they are. But i have grown. And although they feel now that they cannot be part of what we try to achieve, we would welcome them back with open arms". The crowd - who didn't seem much interested in the preceding talk about "the quiet tsunami of global poverty" - finally came to their feet. Personality cults don't get much more fun than this.

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