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African World Social Forum Meeting Opens

by Open-Publishing - Monday 23 January 2006

Social Forum Movement South/Latin America Africa

Havana, Jan 20, (Granma) The African gathering of the Sixth World Social Forum (WSF) opened in Bamako, Mali on Thursday with around 30,000 participants.

The opening ceremony began with a march from the independence monument to the Modibo Keita Stadium. Aminata Dramane Traere, former minister of culture and Federico Mayor Zaragoza, former general director of the UN Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) were among the participants.

The 2006 WSF is being held at three venues: Caracas, Venezuela (Jan 24-29); Mali (Jan 19-23); and in Karachi, Pakistan in March.

Center on Neo-liberal Polices

The first session is centering on the analysis of the negative effects of neo-liberal policies. War and peace, agricultural and dilemma of farmers, the universe of women, and pressing health problems on the African continent and AIDS; and war, the arms trade and militarization, are some of the topics included in the forum’s agenda.

A UN report on HIV/AIDS estimates that 80 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases in the world are in Africa. The average economic growth in the continent is 4.6 percent. According to recent statistics, 60 percent of the Sub-Saharan population lives below the poverty line.

Participants are expected to present their experience on reconciliation, civil and social reconstruction processes that have taken place in Africa. The Modibo Keita Memorial will host meetings on the future of the World Social Forum and developed countries’ responsibility for stimulating fairer trade in the area.


Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban Parliament, proposed to the WSF that it strongly support the governments of Venezuela and Bolivia, countries he said are in the process of building a new alternative.

Alarcon spoke Thursday in Bamako, the capital of Mali, at a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1955 Bandung Conference, in Indonesia, that brought together Asian and African states. Intellectuals from around the world were present at the tribute.

The Cubans participating in the WSF are mainly professionals working in cooperation programs in the fields of health, sports and culture and who possess a vocation for helping others, said Alarcon. He noted that more than 23,000 Cuban internationalists are providing their services around the world.

Dr. Miguel Gamez Cruz, head of the Cuban medical mission in Mali, stated that, instead of importing armies, military bases and weapons of war that kill thousands of men, women and children, the world needs a campaign to import doctors to save lives.
Gamez pointed to the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons and called for solidarity with occupied nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the Democratic Saharaui Arab Republic. Likewise, he encouraged support for the revolutionary processes in Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia as well as the struggle of the Palestinian people.