Date: Sat Oct 16 2004 - 08:47:21 EDT
Related to our exchange on "Why not Eat Children?". In solidarity, Jerry _________ Activists gather to get a piece of Che's spirit By Jon Boone Financial Times, October 15 2004 The two delegates at the Fraction Trotskyst stall were not entirely happy with the European Social Forum, the large leftwing jamboree that kicked of at Alexandra Palace in north London on Friday. The forum's aim of providing a giant meeting space for everyone opposed to war, racism and corporate power was just a little bit trite for Lucas Pizzutti: "They say another world is possible but this world should be a socialist work and that necessitates a working class revolution." Doctrinal difficulties aside, Mr Pizzutti and his colleague Guillermo Ferraro had nothing but praise for the event, despite reports of chaos and even fights on Thursday at some of the registration centres organised around the capital. Mr Ferraro, in tune with many other visitors, agreed that the forum provided a great opportunity to meet other like-minded people and to hear the views of the European left. He had a lot of listening to do: in addition to scores of cultural events, there were more than 30 seminars and debates on offer on Friday, including a session on the Muslim contribution to civilisation, how best to keep the arms trade out of universities and ecological fiscal reform. Although figures for the number of delegates on Friday were not available the ESF, in common with its predecessors in Porto Allegre, Florence and Paris, is expected to attract large crowds. Organisers said more than 10,000 people had registered at the Palace's vast exhibition spaces with the event well on the way to hosting an estimated 20,000 by the end of the weekend. Amid the variety of events in the three-day programme, where several meetings were simultaneously competing for audiences, there was a real excitement about some of the star attractions of the conference. Many delegates were particularly enthusiastic about the presence of a middle-aged woman called Aldeida, daughter of Che Guevara, the legendary South American revolutionary. Ms Guevara said she was fully aware of her box office appeal. "What's really important is my surname. Being Che Guevara's daughter enables me to get people to hear what I have got say and it's possible for me to speak about the realities of Cuba that are not usually said in newspapers. In that sense I think I am being utilised in the best sense of the word to the benefit of my country and my people," she said. The spirit of the first forum in the Brazilian city of Porto Allegre in 2000, intended as an alternative to the World Economic Forum in Davos, has been successfully perpetuated in London with the presence of Ms Guevara and her alternative economic prescriptions. She said South America had suffered from the neoliberal economic regimes foisted on it by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. "It has been catastrophic. The clear example is in Argentina where a country that became the tenth largest producer of meat now has children dying of hunger in the north of the country, " Ms Guevara said. The enthusiasm for all things Che was also apparent in the numerous T- shirt and bandanna dealers who were doing a seemingly roaring trade in revolutionary merchandise. One stall was even boasting Cuban liqueur, saucy female figurines that doubled as ashtrays and that essential revolutionary prop, Montecristo cigars at £4 a pop. Despite the ambivalent attitudes of many delegates to capitalism, the ESF event was something of a shoppers' paradise with areas given over to stalls selling goods to visitors on their break from seminars. Many of the stands offering goods were quick to point out that sales revenue s go to funding their organisations, such as the Aglianico Antifascistawine on sale from the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista at £8 bottle. Donatella Russo, an activist from the Italian party, said the home- made brew was produced in the best interests of the workers and, judging by the hangovers of her compatriots, was good to drink.
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