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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Chavez, Correa cheer on World Social Forum

BELEM, Jan 30, 2009

The leftwing presidents of Venezuela and Ecuador on Thursday urged anti-globalizationists gathered at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil, to pursue their struggle against a capitalism weakened by the global crisis.

The forum has to "go on the offensive" to counter free trade pacts and other US-sponsored neoliberal economic initiatives in Latin America, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said as he arrived by plane to go to the meeting.

"We are in a moment of offense, not debate," he said, according to state Venezuelan media.

Rafael Correa, his ally who leads Ecuador, said he hoped to see an alternative to capitalism come out of the forum, which has brought together 100,000 unionists, feminists, Catholic activists, environmentalists and representatives of indigenous groups.

"The system has collapsed, this perverse neoliberal system... and the forum is part of the solution," he told journalists.

Chavez and Correa were among five Latin American presidents scheduled to appear at the forum. The three others are: Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Bolivia's Evo Morales and Paraguay's Fernando Lugo.

Their presence added political celebrity to the gathering, which was started nine years ago as an ideological counterweight to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which each year in January brings together dozens of the world's most powerful and wealthy figures.

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