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Home > English > Alternatives International Journal > 2013 > April 2013 > From Porto Alegre to Tunis

From Porto Alegre to Tunis

Monday 1 April 2013, by Houda Chergui, Kamal Lahbib

More than 50 regional forums and seminars have taken place since 2002. Algerian generals are still hostile toward the idea of a North African movement, and Libya is still dealing with the repercussions of the fall of Gaddafi, in the past, making a concrete united North African movement difficult to realize. However, now, this difficult legacy of arrests, suppression and restrictions is now establishing a united movement in the World Social Forum (WSF) in Tunis.

The World Social Forum Tunis 2013, taking place from the 26 to the 30 of March 2013, will develop under difficult conditions: violence to the point of criminality in Syria, institutional crises, unstable economies, social inequalities created and maintained by ancient elite regimes despite revolutions by conservative Islamist factions that opt for neoliberal approaches that lead to nothing but poverty, injustice, balkanization and wars. The WSF in Tunis will take place in a large space that has not yet cut ties with tribal societies and religious groups in an environment of ideological battles, yet to be explored in the WSF. Political Islam, misunderstandings and confused approaches between Europe and the Maghreb-Mashrek region, have made new emerging clandestine social movements place Democracy and affirmation of citizenship at the heart of the debate at the WSF.

It is the Occupy movement, the indignant, the “we are fed up,” the red squares, that have begun this revolt against injustice, wars, a world dominated by capitalist ideals and interests, and the consequences not paid by the actors who have led the world to crisis. They will convene with the Tunisian, Egyptian, Palestinian, North African, Syrian, Yemeni, Iraqi, Turkish, Sub-Saharan, Latin-American social movements in order to turn this forum into an instance of democratic debate, of convergence for reinforcing the regional struggle for democracy, dignity, liberty, social justice, and liberty and to inscribe it into a global perspective.

Despite limited means and many hindrances—violence and political assassinations, conservative governments following fallen dictators, a fragile and divided movement, populations that have lost all confidence in their institutions and “representative democracy,” youth on the verge of despair and on the brink of violent expression and suicide—the WSF is triumphant, as the fact that it is taking place in Tunis represents in itself a grand victory. Moreover, it will be more of a success if at the end of the five days the forum achieves to include new democratic social movements, to of sorts lessen the complexity of social and political situations, to clarify transformations that the world is undergoing and to reinforce the democratic aspirations, dignities, social justice and citizenship of the people.

Translated from the original French by Houda Chergui