WHAT WE THINK
November 8, 2002 | Page 3
TENS OF thousands of people will come this week from across Europe to attend the European Social Forum in Florence, Italy. "A different Europe is possible--against neo-liberalism, war and racism" is the call for the gathering, which will bring together people from a wide range of social movements, unions and political groups to discuss the struggle against the global fat cats and the politicians who do their bidding.
The European Social Forum was called as a follow-up to last year's World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where some 40,000 people came together to discuss how to organize against free-market policies that have crippled the countries of Latin America.
The Florence meeting aims to knit together that opposition across Europe. Dozens of meetings, debates and workshops will take up important questions for the movement--from the U.S. "war on terrorism" to immigrant rights, from Third World debt to the struggle in Palestine. A mass demonstration against the U.S. war drive will cap off the week of events on November 9--with tens of thousands more activists expected for the protest alone.
Until the last minute, Italy's right-wing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had threatened to shut down the forum, citing fear of "violent protesters" on the streets of Florence. Italian officials even tried to suspend Europe-wide treaties and reinstate border controls to keep out activists. Under pressure, Berlusconi had to back down.
In fact, the real threat of violence comes from Berlusconi's paramilitary police force, which gunned down protester Carlo Giuliani at demonstrations against the G-8 summit in Genoa last year. Berlusconi wants to paint protesters as "criminals," but the real crimes are being committed by his government--something that millions of Italian workers who went on a one-day general strike last month to protest government attacks know very well.
The strike demonstrated Italian workers' power to take on Berlusconi and the bosses. And this week in Florence, activists from all over Europe will join them to tell their leaders: No to a world of poverty and war--a better world is possible!