Live from theWorld Social Forum in Caracas: day 1 and 2

From the 24 to 29 of January, Caracas (Venezuela) is playing host to the sixth Polycentric World Social Forum and the second Social Forum of the Americas. The Forum this year is being celebrated in a decentralised way: from 19-23 of January it was held in Bamako (Mali), and over the next few months it will take place in Karachi (Pakistan). At the time of its inception, 77,000 people signed up to participate in Caracas ? with Colombia, Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela being the best represented countries. Over 2,000 events (workshops, conferences, seminars, etc), and 200 cultural exhibitions scattered all over the city are expected to take place. The focus this time is on power, politics and emancipation, differences and identities, employment and exploitation, communication and education, and alternatives to depredation. Forty people from Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela, Jesuits and their collaborators, are taking part in the forum. The Jesuit delegation, coordinated by Centro Gumilla, a Jesuit social centre in Caracas, will animate the group, fostering exchange of ideas, sharing of reflections, and celebration. We are lodged at Casa del Maestro of the Venezuelan Association for Catholic Education. At the end of the second day of the Forum, Fr Valentín Menéndez SJ, Regional Assistant for Latin America, will take part in the daily meeting of the delegation. On the first day, just before the official opening, an ecumenical celebration was organised by Caritas Internationalis. After that the different Church- based groups took part in the opening march, full of colour and festivity, ending with a big concert. During the second day, the session dedicated to the Church movements (coordinated by Caritas) focused on Youth. Jóvenes de Huellas (a youth project of Venezuelan Jesuits) and Fé y Alegria took part in this event. The group linked to migration will take part in the second hemispheric meeting on migration policies, taking place in conjunction with the Forum. Among the convenors of this meeting are OCIM (Inter-American observatory on migrations), Jesuit Refugees Service, Jesuit Migration Service, Centro Segundo Montes Mozos SJ and Enlaces America. After an initial review of the situation of migrants, refugees and internally displaced people in Latin America, the group will aim to identify some common lines of advocacy and action. The WSF event was also an occasion for a dozen members of the Jesuit delegation who work with migrants to celebrate the third meeting of the Jesuit Migration Service just prior to the opening of the Forum. Present among the participants were the Migrations Coordinator of Red Caribe and the Director of Migrations for Latin America. The conclusions touched on several points such as the decision to carry out a study on the grey zone between asylum seekers and illegal migrants in countries bordering Colombia, and increasing coordination to integrate research projects at province level and also with AUSJAL, the Network of Jesuit Universities in LA. As happens every time, there is much debate on the future of the forum. All eyes and hopes are fixed on Nairobi, where the seventh meeting of the Forum will be held next year. ?We will offer you the best we have? were the words of welcome of an African Companion. The future of the Forum is, first and foremost, a challenge that should awaken a political duty to build a creative new citizenship based on effective democracy. The importance of a dialectic process, one that is able to accept and appreciate differences, is still fundamental to making another world possible. Given the resistance of Venezuela to the imperialist hegemony of the United States, the celebration of the Forum in Caracas is charged with great symbolic significance. The ?turn to the left? of certain Latin American countries over the past few months is mentioned in the debates as a sign of hope. A roundtable on this issue was organised by different social and indigenous movements of Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil. All the speakers agreed in saying that the victory of Evo Morales is a victory of Bolivian social movements, which have been fighting for their rights (such as water) for the last few years, setting an example for other movements in Latin America. Submitted by Klaus Vathroeder SJ, Centro Gumilla, Caracas