Porto Alegre, Brazil, January 26, 2001 – An international Friends of the Earth delegation, with representatives from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Great Britain, the Middle East, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay joined over 15,000 other protesters in the ‘Marcha pela Vida’ through the streets of Porto Alegre, Brazil yesterday. The protesters were demonstrating their will to work together to put an end to the burden of third world debt, trade liberalization, social exclusion and the destruction of the environment, all under the slogan ‘No to Neoliberalism, Another World is Possible’.

The March followed the official opening of the World Social Forum at the packed auditorium of the University of Porto Alegre, where delegates from 120 countries were gathered in a mood that can best be described as ‘spirited and determined’. Unemployed workers, landless peasants, poets and writers welcomed the delegates to the four-day conference with drumming, theatre performances and dance. The mayor of Porto Alegre and the governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul expressed their hopes that the Forum would be a decisive step in bringing an end to neoliberalism.

“We are very happy that so many came to Brazil to witness what Brazilian movements of landless peasants, environmentalists, indigenous peoples and workers are doing every day to resist the effects of harsh economic policies imposed upon them”, said Lucia Ortiz of Friends of the Earth Brazil. “But not only do they oppose these policies; they replace them with concrete alternatives based on the right of people to determine their own lives and not be bullied around by others.”

“This is all very moving,” said Johan Frijns, coordinator of the International Financial Institutions programme of Friends of the Earth International. “There is not a trace of the cynicism you sometimes see in Europe when it comes to ‘changing the world’. Of course we can, and we will sit down together here and figure out how to do it.”

In the coming days, Friends of the Earth will present its trade & environment, ecological debt and international financial institutions programmes in series of workshops.

Friends of the Earth International is also present at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
For information about FoEI’s activities there, contact:
Tony Juniper: ++44-771-284 32 07 (24-30 January)
Miriam Behrens, Pro Natura/FoE Switzerland: ++41-792- 160 206 (24-30 January)

For more information or press contacts at the World Social Forum in Brazil, contact:
Friends of the Earth temporary office, Porto Alegre: ++55 51 320 3683