PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – While thousands took to the street the week of Jan. 28 to protest the World Economic Forum in New York City, an estimated 60,000 people joined together here in proclaiming “Another World Is Possible” at the second World Social Forum held Jan. 31 through Feb. 5.

The event, created as a response to the World Economic Forum, featured a number of demonstrations, workshops, panel discussions, debates, art expositions and concerts, all focused on fighting neoliberal globalization policies and imperialism.

Representatives from trade unions, religious groups, non-governmental organizations, political parties, youth groups, farmer organizations, women’s organizations and anti-racism organizations joined together in their outrage at the neoliberal economic and social policies that have aggressively attacked the environment, workers, women, children, people of color and poor people throughout the world.

Many of the discussions focused on ways of uniting various social movements and organizations in the struggle against global capitalism. In a workshop entitled “Labor and the Anti-Globalization Movement,” one Canadian auto worker discussed the challenges that face the coalition between the trade union movement and other popular movements in the struggle against globalization and discussed the need to focus on inclusivity and representation in the anti-globalization movement.

“We’ve got to face new ways of organizing”, she said as she stressed the need to continue to develop strategies to increase representation in the areas of gender, age, race and ethnicity.

Many participants also noted a lack of Asian representation at the World Social Forum and discussed ways of making the next World Social Forum more representative of all of the world’s progressive forces that are struggling against capitalist globalization.

One of the major discussion points of the six-day event was the struggle to defeat the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) legislation, which has been labeled a “NAFTA on steroids” for all of the Americas. One proposal that seemed to generate interest among the World Social Forum delegates was mentioned by Osvaldo Martinez, the head of the Economic Commission of the Cuban National Assembly, at the International Student Seminar on Education and Free Trade.

Martinez discussed the idea of national referenda and plebiscites as a way for workers and students throughout the Americas to voice their opposition to the FTAA.

On the last evening of the forum over 50,000 people marched in opposition to the FTAA. The march culminated in a mass rally where the crowd, much larger than expected, spilled over into the surrounding streets.

Though this was only the second year in which the event was held, it was so successful that plans are already being made for the 2003 World Social Forum. The progressive Worker’s Party government of Porto Alegre has shown its willingness to continue to host the event here and the World Social Forum has every sign of becoming an annual event.