Tell me: What actually is the World Social Forum?

On Tuesday, January 27, 2009 the 9th edition of the World Social Forum opened in Belém, the capital of Pará, with an estimated 60 thousand people from around the country and 30 thousand foreigners participating. For the city of Belém an unprecedented large-scale event that would rule the entire city for 6 days.

However, a survey conducted by the media-group ORM Portal showed that the event is unknown by the Paraense (resident of the federal state of Pará).

Derived from the Latin word ‘foro’, forums were in ancient Rome places of public meetings where Roman citizens could speak out about urban problems. But only the patricians, who owned great estates and consequently political rights, were regarded as citizens. Participation was thus limited by social conditions. Centuries later, when the freedom of expression was established in the constitution, the absence of knowledge and information marks the opinion of those who live in the vicinity of the world’s main discussion forum on contemporary problems: the World Social Forum 2009.

But what is it? An event, a protest, a demonstration? A survey last week organized at the site of Portal ORM ( showed that 50.4% of the 345 people who voted did not know what the World Social Forum is or what it serves. A worrying result particularly since it concerned a news site, which is usually visited by people looking for information and generally are well informed. Of the people who said they knew the event, slightly more than half said that they would participate in the activities.

The results in the street are similar to the virtual vote. People who live in the bordering area where the forum is held, the two federal universities, noticed changes and additional traffic, but are unfamiliar with the themes, goals and personalities, who were present this week in Belém. Some people saw the results of the preparations for the event in practice and observed the large and conspicuous presence of police and security forces. “I know that many people are coming, but do not know why. I think they will talk about street violence. What I do know is that things have improved here, never ever there was so many police in Terra Firme” says Maria Sales, who lives in the vicinity of the Federal Agriculture University of the Amazônia (UFRA).

If one of the main objectives of the Forum is, promoting the debate between young people, then the propaganda has not worked effectively for the youth in Pará, in particular those from the interior.
But there are also people who know nothing and ……….. continue reading


Justify Full