Monday, January 31, 2005

News item: Chavez tells Social Forum that "socialism is not dead"

This reads like bad satire, resembling something out of Mark Twain -- 'all tears and flapdoodle':

Porto Alegre, Brazil, Jan 30 (EFE).- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told activists attending the World Social Forum Sunday that "socialism is not dead" and announced an "agrarian revolution" in his country, with the seizure of 20 million hectares (49.3 million acres).

Chavez visited Lagoa dos Juncos, a ranch belonging to the MST Landless Movement in Tapes, some 174 kilometers (108 miles) from Porto Alegre, where the World Social Forum is being held.Lagoa dos Juncos is being run as a model cooperative by the MST.

"For those who say that socialism is dead, here are the people demonstrating that it did not die with the USSR," Chavez told some 300 activists, most of them bused in from Porto Alegre and forced to walk five kilometers (3.1 miles) cross country for security reasons.

"A failed model of statism died, which was slowly poisoned and there was no way to rectify it in time," Chavez said, referring to the former Soviet Union.

Chavez condemned capitalism and denied that it could solve the world's problems."Convince yourselves, those who still harbor doubts, that there is no solution to poverty or misery, because capitalism is the cause, it is at the root of the great problems of inequality in the world, of exploitation and misery," Chavez said.

Chavez delivered his address to an audience made up of MST leaders and activists, as well as representatives of peasant organizations from across the region.

The Venezuelan leader was accompanied on the stage by Brazilian agricultural workers leader Joao Pedro Stedile, the rightist governor of Rio Grande do Sul state, Germano Rigotto, and other local leaders.

Chavez told the audience that he too was a "peasant."

The Venezuelan president said the World Social Forum was "the most important political event held in the world each year" and that his country was "ready" to host the gathering in 2006, when it will be split up into parallel events on three or four continents.

The forum, the annual "summit" of the antiglobalization movement, opened last Wednesday in Porto Alegre.Some 120,000 activists from more than 100 countries converged on Porto Alegre, in southern Brazil, for the 5th World Social Forum.The city also hosted the first three parallel gatherings to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. EFE ol/hv

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