Monday, January 30, 2006

Back from WSF 2006

I'm just back from WSF 2006. There was some very little coverage on CNN about it, the majority of CNN was about the World Economic Forum in Davos.

As said, there was a lot of Bush-bashing. However, this was not a gathering of just 'leftists' etc., there were many different people there. It is a bit sad to see that HC gets all coverage on CNN with some radical statements, but the actual topics being discussed are not really being published. Also, although there are some sessions highly politically motivated, the actual essence of the WSF is social action. This does not have anything to do with politics, just changing governmental action whatever the government is composed of.

I went to a couple of interesting meetings:

* A workshop on the legislation of labour in developing countries

* A presentation about the work of a foundation that protects low-skilled labours in the Amazon, so that these people do not turn into slave labourers. The definition of slavery here is not specifically "being traded", but it means co-ercing people into labour with very bad conditions by making it appear as if they owe the owner of a farm. This is done by not declaring the bar bill, charging for the trip from their home-city to the Amazon (the 'gato', which is the guy who lures these guys, is posing as a travel agent and states you have to pay to get there) and more of these practices. For these reasons, one month later they get one bag of rice, maybe some trinkets, and that's it. Some drink water from a hole in the ground. Housing is basically a rooflet of wood with some poles underneath. Beds are wooden without mattress. When working with raw coal, no protection is given against pore-infiltration of coaldust... etc... etc... The federal government is on it now, clearing out the farm owners that violate this solely for the purpose of profit.

* A presentation about incubating "cooperatives" of low-skilled labourers in Brasil. This is where recycling-goods collectors can collaborate together, get better rights together and learn about administration and do things together basically for the good of them all. New hints, new ways of work, etc...

* A presentation from the "Mitterand Foundation" about the new society, which is suffering from "predatory capitalism" and especially why this is the case. They explained issues like water management, the right of people to have at least 4 liters of water a day, the privatisation of drinking water! , terminator seeds discussion (seeds that can grow only once and require farmers to continuously buy the seeds from the same supplier).

All in all, a variety of topics. It's definitely worth a visit and next year in Kenya, I am already planning to go again.

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