Executive Intelligence Review
This article appears in the August 24, 2001 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

World Social Forum

by Gretchen Small

[PDF version of this article]

The World Social Forum, founded at the so-called "Anti-Davos Conference" held in Pôrto Alegre, Brazil, on Jan. 25-30, 2001, is yet another wing of the "Seattle movement." Formalized as a permanent organization, with an International Council and plenty of financing (although no fixed address), the WSF is organizing for a second conference to be held in Pôrto Alegre from Jan. 31 to Feb. 5, 2002. Its organizers project that 100,000 people will attend.

The WSF claims that it has no bureaucratic structure, nor any deliberative function, nor does it take decisions as a body, nor commit its members to any particular agenda; it is, rather, "a world process ... designed to build an international unifying movement of alternatives."

Translated, that means that the WSF's function is to provide the global "Seattle movement" with a central political umbrella, through which to garner publicity and legitimacy, establish networks, coordinate actions, and channel money.

The first WSF conference, touting itself as "part of the movement which has grown since Seattle," surpassed even its organizers' expectations: Anywhere from 12-16,000 people attended, representing hundreds of groups and a smorgasbord of political, academic, indigenous, feminist, gay, Marxist, counterculture, homeless, labor, peasant, student, anarchist, terrorist, drug-trafficking, etc. interests from around the world.

A leading attraction at the conference was Javier Cifuentes, representative of the largest dope cartel in South America, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who, provided with special protection, waltzed around the conference, speaking publicly.

The WSF "anti-Davos" movement is the brainchild of Teddy Goldsmith, the French daily Le Monde reported shortly before the Pôrto Alegre conference opened in January 2001. The two principal agencies used to set Goldsmith's murderous idea into motion were the Brazilian Workers' Party and its Landless Movement (MST), and Bernard Cassen, director of France's Le Monde Diplomatique, the leader of the French ATTAC movement (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and for the Aid of the Citizenry), and, more recently, would-be travel agent for the Zapatistas' Subcommander Marcos.

Held at the same time as the annual gathering of world business, financial, and government leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, "anti-Davos" was given massive publicity. A teleconference debate between the Davos Forum, featuring George Soros, and leaders from the WSF's "anti-Davos" forum, was used to build the credibility of the WSF as the new counterpole to neo-liberal economics and the Davos crowd. That the so-called "Dialogue Between Davos and Pôrto Alegre" boiled down to a heated, but contentless, exchange of name-calling, mattered not.

France's Le Monde, as did others, painted the Pôrto Alegre forum as having launched "the bases for 'another globalization.' " "Another globalization" which clearly could mobilize money. The "debate" with Soros, involving four satellite hookups, cost over a million dollars, alone.

Luddite Movement

Filippino activist Walden Bello, a board member of Teddy Goldsmith's International Forum on Globalization and one of the panelists who "debated" Soros, characterized Pôrto Alegre as a "combination of celebration, hard discussion, and militant solidarity." Activists were urged to organize their troops to participate in the numerous global demonstrations planned against various international summits throughout 2001, from Quebec City in April, to Genoa in July, to the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting in Washington, scheduled for Sept. 28-Oct. 4.

Over a thousand of those present showed their "militant solidarity" on the spot, Bello wrote, by joining the Brazilian Landless Movement and "the celebrated French anti-McDonald's activist," José Bové, in vandalizing a Monsanto experimental laboratory working on genetically modified seeds, and uprooting several hectares of its experimental plants. Such destruction is characteristic of the Goldsmith movement: Bové's aide, René Riesel, explained in an article in the premier, Autumn 2000 issue of the French edition of Goldsmith's perverted Ecologist magazine (see Goldsmith article, in this section), that their movement models itself on the actions of Ned Ludd, and his "Luddites," who launched an "insurrectional movement" based on destroying machines in the early 1800s.

At its conclusion, the "anti-Davos" crew decided that the WSF would be established as a permanent international institution; that a Forum of Local Authorities, linking up mayors and the like around the world, and a similar Forum of Parliamentarians, be created; and that "anti-Davos" conferences be held yearly.

Rio Grande do Sul Gov. Olivio Dutra, his Secretary of Agriculture, José Hermetto Hoffman, and Pôrto Alegre Mayor Tarso Genro, all leaders of the Brazilian Workers Party, have been back and forth to Europe this year, consolidating the WSF network. Within a month of the anti-Davos meeting, Venezuela's Frantz Fanon-promoting, existentialist rageball, President Hugo Chávez, announced that he had been invited to attend WSF-II, and intends to go. By June, organizers reported that preparatory organizing meetings for WSF-II were planned for Libya, Canada, Italy, Mali, and, possibly, Spain; and the problem faced by organizers was to locate sufficient gymnasiums in Pôrto Alegre to fit 5,000 people at a time, to handle the 100,000 they expect to attend.

Who Promotes and Organizes It?

Delegates of 43 non-Brazilian groups participated as full members in the June 9-11, 2001 meeting in São Paulo, at which the International Council for the WSF was formed. Many present are well-known by now as the leadership of the mass protests roving from city to city across the globe: the 50 Years Is Enough Network, ATTAC, Focus on the Global South, Friends of the Earth, the Genoa Social Forum, Teddy Goldsmith's International Forum on Globalization, International Rivers Network, the MST-Bové-run Via Campesina (a.k.a. Via Camponesa), etc.

Active also are various figures identified with the previous generation of "guerrilla" terrorism and the 1968 counterculture. The most notable, is University of Louvain's Tricontinental Center, in Belgium, a training ground for the Theology of Liberation guerrillas in Ibero-America for decades, and still going at it. Introducing the WSF International Council's discussion of "the present stage of globalization," was the Tricontinental Center's François Houtart, S.J., who first gained notoriety as the man who trained Camilo Torres, founder of Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN), in the 1960s. Houtart is very active in the WSF, and keynoted one of the four major panels at the Pôrto Alegre conference.

Nine other groups supported the formation of the Council, but could not attend, and a few others participated as guests. Representatives of the U.S. labor federation AFL-CIO, the European Trade Union Confederation, and the once-staunch "free traders" of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) participated as observers, because their organizations are still "evaluating internally" whether to join the WSF's Council.

The WSF proudly lists among the "WSF Partners" which serve as its financial angels, several leading instruments of social control of the Anglo-Dutch-American establishment, most notably:

  • The Ford Foundation, whose seminal role in the creation of the 1968 counterculture, under the personal direction of man known as the patriarch of the Wall Street establishment, McGeorge Bundy, had been identified, and fought, by the LaRouche movement since its outset;

  • The International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, Canada's British Crown-appointed component of the Bush-Thatcher Project Democracy operation, in partnership with the United States' notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED) of Iran-Contra fame; and

  • ICCO, one of four Dutch co-financing organizations, channeling money from the Dutch Crown's government, the European Union, and unnamed "private funds," which describes itself as "closely connected" with the British Crown's World Council of Churches, founded in 1937 with the mission of crushing, in its own words, "the demonic influence of national sovereignty."

The list of their establishment benefactors may expand. East Timor's guerrilla-turned-"Foreign Minister," Jose Ramos Horta, another WSF star, recommended in July, according to Italy's Corriere della Sera, that "the Pôrto Alegre people" should cosy up to the "modern Robin Hoods"—Bill Gates, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and George Soros himself—as they, he shamelessly proclaimed, have shown "a sincere concern to help the poor."

The full list of the participants and financiers (at least, those publicly acknowledged) is available on their website.

Narco-Terrorist Core

The nasty wetworks capability of this allegedly merely political "world process of alternatives" is typified by the Brazilian combo which runs the nitty-gritty WSF organizing: the Workers Party (PT) and its offshoot, the MST. Here, we are looking at the hard core of the studiously ignored, but very active centralized narco-terrorist force in Ibero-America, the São Paulo Forum. The São Paulo Forum was founded in São Paulo, Brazil in 1990, to ensure that centralized coordination among the numerous terrorist forces operating in Ibero-America continued smoothly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. Officially co-sponsoring its founding were Fidel Castro's Cuban Communist Party and Brazil's PT. Playing a leading role from the outset was Manuel Piñeiro (alias "Redbeard"), the decades-long head of the Cuban CP's wetworks—the Americas Department—and his Chilean wife, Marta Harnecker, whose mind-deadening structuralism probably killed more Ibero-American youth than all the terrorist wars advised by her late husband combined.

With Soviet, and therefore Cuban financing cut off, Cuban organizers told the leaders of the erstwhile beneficiaries of Cuban largesse, that the dope trade would henceforth have to finance their operations. While Social Democratic political parties and movements and other ideological movements swell the lists of the São Paulo Forum's members, its central leadership is made up of the war-hardened terrorist forces which first emerged in the 1970s and 1980s: the FARC and its companion, François Houtart's and Camilo Torres' ELN; Nicaragua's Sandinistas (FSLN); El Salvador's Farabundo Martí Liberation Front (FMLN); the Uruguayan Tupamaros; etc. The emergence in 1994 of Mexico's Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) from its decades-long incubation in the jungles of Chiapas, was used to rally enormous international publicity and support for the São Paulo Forum apparatus, into which the EZLN is fully integrated.

Spain's ETA, the Basque separatists whose terrorist specialists provided hands-on expertise in most of those Ibero-American wars, have their representatives, too, in the São Paulo Forum activities—and in those of the WSF. "Hemen eta munduan," an organization within the ETA movement created specifically to intervene in the global "anti-globalization" demonstrations, participated in the first meeting of the Pôrto Alegre gang.

The PT hosts of the "anti-Davos" conference ensured that various representatives of the São Paulo Forum's hard core were present at the WSF, including representatives of the FARC. Governor Dutra personally assured the FARC protection, over the bitter objections of official security forces. By so doing, the PT ensured that the Brazilian drug cartel was well-represented at the conference: Less than three months later, in April 2001, Colombian military forces arrested the "Pablo Escobar of Brazil," Luiz Fernando da Costa (better known by his mafia nickname, Fernandinho Beira Mar), who had been living in Colombia under the protection of the FARC for over a year. Beira Mar controlled 60% of Brazil's enormous drug trade, and was believed to be one of the largest suppliers of cocaine to the U.S. market, with most of his cocaine supplied by the FARC. An estimated 80% of the FARC's income was said to have come from the Beira Mar operation.

Since the PT took the governorship of Rio Grande do Sul in 1998, the state has become an important center of political and logistical support for the FARC, with state governor and WSF star Olivio Dutra meeting with FARC "ambassadors" at least three times since 1999.

The prominent role of the PT and the MST in the WSF ought to send off alarm bells. While the MST enjoys international prominence as a "grass-roots" idealistic mass movement, chiefly due to promotion by its friends in such British Crown-run organizations as Christian Aid, it is, in fact, fast becoming the "FARC" of Brazil, and represents a very dangerous armed capability for mass insurgency.

Its leadership ranks heavily overlapping those of the PT, the MST has made no secret that when the time is ripe, "the interior of Brazil could turn into another Colombia," as MST national spokesman João Pedro Stedile threatened in 1997. MST leader Gilmar Mauro reiterated after the MST's Fourth National Congress, in August 2000, that "the decision to become guerrillas or not," would be taken on the basis of an evaluation of the state of "mass struggle."

Collaboration between the MST and Colombia's FARC is extensive, and one of the most dangerous threats to the security of the Western Hemisphere. Hard evidence of the FARC-PT-MST relationship led Brazilian authorities to arrest the FARC's unofficial "ambassador" to Brazil, former Jesuit priest Francisco Antonino Cadenas Collazos (a.k.a. Comandante Oliverio Medina) in September 2000. Cadenas had spent much of his time travelling back and forth between the city of São Paulo and the southwestern corner of São Paulo state, known as the Pontal do Paranapanema, a major focus of MST organizing, which, according to statements by MST leader Gilmar Mauro when he returned from the EZLN-hosted July 1996 international gathering in Trinidad, Chiapas, Mexico, was targetted by the MST as the site for a "liberated zone," where they intend to set up an "MST republic."

Some European sources suggest that a "side benefit" of the WSF, is to build up the PT's international prominence, with an eye to the Brazilian Presidential elections of 2002, in which the PT's Luís Inacio da Silva, better known as "Lula," is a leading contender. WSF promotional materials emphasize that Pôrto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, was suggested as the site for the founding of the WSF by French organizers, to promote it as a model for "people's democracy." The PT has run the city's administration since 1988, and its current Mayor, Tarso Genro, is rumored as a possible Vice Presidential candidate for Lula. Genro, whose website opens with an existentialist quote from Toni Negri's mentor Norberto Bobbio, represented the WSF at the recent "anti-globalization" show in Genoa, from where he continued on, to dine with its political godfather, Teddy Goldsmith.

NEXT: The Mobilization for Global Justice

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