The World Social Forum by the numbers:
• Over 80,000 participated in the Caracas, Venezuela, WSF, Jan. 24–29. Of these 2,000 came from the U.S.
• 160 countries were represented.
• Of the over 2,000 events taking place in 250 venues during the six days of the Forum, 115 were organized by U.S. groups.
• 2,500 organizations took part.
• There were 4,900 journalists accredited from print, radio, television and web-based news media. They ranged from the commercial press to the independent and alternative press.
• 3,000 volunteers provided technical, logistical and clerical help.
• 6 World Social Forums have been held since 2001. This year the Forum was also convened in Bamako, Mali, and Karachi, Pakistan.
All photos José A. Cruz/PWW-Nuestro Mundo
Venezuelan trade unionist Omar Rangel pauses to show World Social Forum delegates his Hugo Chávez animated sign. Rangel was on his way to the Celebration of Democracy, a weeklong festival in support of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution, held just before the opening of the Forum in January.
This shoe cooperative, one of 90,000 set up in the last seven years, employs 200 workers on two shifts. The workers make all business decisions affecting the co-op. Most of the people working in the co-ops were previously unemployed or worked in the “informal economy.”
A child chases pigeons by the statue of Simón Bolívar in the plaza which bears his name just a few blocks from where he was born. Bolívar, known as The Liberator, led the fight against Spanish colonialism in the Americas.
Mayor Luz Estrella Rodríguez, from El Salvador, speaks during a memorial service for Salvadoran leader Schafik Handal the morning after he died of a heart attack in El Salvador after returning from the inauguration of Bolivian President Evo Morales.
Haitian delegates sing and celebrate the ending of a successful meeting on the situation in Haiti held at La Carlota Airport in Caracas. The participants called for support for deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and highlighted the complicity of the U.S., France and the United Nations in the coup of 2004 and its aftermath.
Alicea Hurianes was happy to see people from around the world come to Venezuela so they could see the changes there. Hurianes, a member of the indigenous Guaraní nation from the south of Venezuela, works in Caracas on a street cleaning crew. The pro-Chávez municipal government has hired hundreds of people and is waging a campaign for a clean city, something previous governments hadn’t done.
Co-op farmer Justo Soriano poses with his 3-year-old granddaughter Yarimar in his home in the mountains outside Caracas. Soriano spearheaded the movement to form the farming co-op among his neighbors. At first “there was a lot of resistance” because this way of working was new to folks, he said. Now the co-op numbers 250 families farming 1,000 hectares, about 10 acres per family.
Peace activist Fernando Suárez del Solar, whose son was among the first U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, was among the 2,000 delegates from the U.S. Among other well known U.S. peace activists participating were Cindy Sheehan and Pablo Paredes.
One didn’t have to go to any of the 200 cultural presentations to hear live music. In many places near the Forum, workers, students and musicians, both amateurs and professionals, would take out an instrument and others would gather to listen or join in singing songs of peace, love and struggle.
A delegation of workers from San José, Venezuela, demonstrate in Simón Bolívar Plaza. The sign says, “San José in the struggle against the large landowners – Building 21st Century Socialism.”