MST and World Social Forum

Tord Björk | Latin American movements,MST,WSF | Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

At the headquarters in Sao Paulo there is big stress as everyone is preparing for the 25th anniversary. But there was some time to talk to Joao Paulo, the landless movement MST international secretary and buy some material.

It became evident that MST has a somewhat problematic situation. As a Brazilian organization that have participated in the WSF process from the start MST feels obliged to make efforts and activities at the forum in Belem. But the growing criticism among popular movements against the NGO and governemental influence in the WSF process puts MST into a problematic situation. Especially because Via Campesina, the global peasant organisation to which MST belongs will not be represented at WSF 2009.* The chair Henry Saragih and other leaders have chosen to not to go to Belem. MST is the organisation that keeps up the peasant spirit at WSF.

But there are problems for MST doing this. Belem is far away from most MST activists so the organisation cannot afford to bring but a small delegation to the event (which means somehing like 500 as it is a bi organisation that normalyy participates with many more when WSF aes place in Brazil. There are also anxiousness on different levels. On the one hand big NGOS, and especially envrionmental NGOs have dominated the process together with governmental interests in a way the frustrates popular movements. There is also a growing sense that the kind of open space were decisions cannot be made in combination with the assembly of social movements with a very large number of organisations and consensus decision-making prohibit popular movements for coming further.

Thus MST have focused mainly on their own program connecting to other interested movements by inviting them to the 25th anniversary celebration in Sarandi in Rio Grande do Sul and then continuing in Maraba in Para state ending at the MST activities at WSF in Belem. Central in the WSF activities is a meeting for networks and international social movements on the 29.1. This is an attempt to come further together with similar popualr movements as friends of the Earth International, Womens’ World March and tohers. This may constitute a necessary reform of the WSF process complemtary to the more loose Assembly of Social Movement.

*This is not correct I found out later. The chair Henry Saragi have chosen not to come but there will be a smaller delegation coming from Via Campesina international. The incorrectness might be the result of that my portuguese is not good enough. A blogpost will be made with Josie Riffaud, the respresentative of VC International.

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