| Bolivia's President Evo Morales stands near a flag representing Bolivia's|
indigenous Andean peoples as he speaks at Chiekh Anta DiopUniversity on the opening day of the World Social Forum in Dakar.
“This forum comes at a time when the world is changing,” the forum’s Africa coordinator, Taoufik Abdallah, told thousands assembled at Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University Sunday. “It is up to us to act. It is up to us to change the world.”
The weeklong event, now in its 11th year, serves as a counterweight to the World Economic Forum, which recently concluded in Davos, Switzerland. It opened with a march through downtown Dakar attended by Bolivian President Evo Morales, A hero of the anti-capitalist movement, Morales was elected in 2005 and is the country’s first leader from its indigenous majority.
“The enemies of the people are the neo-liberalism and the neo-colonialism which not only oppress us but also take our natural resources,” Morales said. “We are going to raise the people of the world, whether they be workers, intellectuals or youth, against these enemies. In the interest of their countries and their people, they are able to rise up. They have already done it in Latin America just as they are doing it today in the Arab world and in Africa.”
The forum defines itself as an open space where those “opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism come together to pursue their thinking.”
Besides Morales, the event is expected to draw other well-known socialists, including a planned Monday appearance by former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s first working-class president.