The Guardian 2 February, 2005

Cuban child
inaugurates 5th World Social Forum

Abel Sardiña

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL: Last night (January 26), a six-year-old Cuban girl held the attention of several thousand participants at the 5th World Social Forum (WSF), when she officially opened the debates along with three adults.

The inaugural event was held after a mass march in which 200,000 people took part according to military police estimates, a record for this type of event.

The brief address opening the 2000-plus programmed events and to work "for justice, dignity as a universal human value" was read out by three adults in Portuguese, English and French, and by the Cuban child in Spanish.

The child chosen, Ivette González, is the daughter of René González, one of the five Cubans serving harsh prison terms in the United States for combating terrorism.

The US authorities have repeatedly denied visas to Ivette and her mother so that they can visit him.

In the opening address the World Social Forum participants, who had arrived in Porto Alegre from more than 100 countries, were introduced as the members of "another and possible world", which is standing up to "a world in which neo-liberalism is furthering wars and inequalities".

The little Cuban girl and her three companions called on those present for one minute's silence for the victims of all tragedies, especially those of the tsunamis that devastated several Asian countries.

Likewise, she urged everyone to light thousands of candles for dignity, to illuminate that other possible world for which the forum movement is fighting.

During the previous three-kilometre march, banners, placards bearing slogans and chants rejecting war and the US president, George W Bush, neo-liberalism, debt, and the militarisation of the Free Trade of the Americas Area (FTAA) were predominant.

Expressions of solidarity with Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine, and Iraq were also highlighted, as were calls for equality, peace, the right to an education, respect for the environment in all its forms and countless other demands.

Moore than 2,000 conferences, events, debates and other activities are scheduled over four days, grouped around 11 major central themes previously proposed by the participants.

Granma International

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