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the sound of revolution


The Sound of Revolution
First published in Songlines, issue 36, May 2006

Caracas, the capital of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and 'the new Mecca of the international Left', was host this year to the 6th World Social Forum (WSF). From January 24-29, in amongst the politics, masses of music was offered to an audience of about 60,000 visitors from an estimated 170 countries. The event turned the centre of Caracas into a kind of revolutionary Woodstock.

The WSF originated as a 'quasi­movement of movements' against neo-­liberal fundamentalism, as a counterpoint to the annual Davos summit, and turned into an annual reunion of those critical of globalisation and willing to formulate an utopian alternative under the slogan: 'Another World Is Possible'. Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez made a surprise appearance at the first ever WSF in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2004. It was there that Chávez redefined his Bolivarian revolution as a socialist project (Simon Bolivar was the man who founded the modern Venezuelan state). British author Richard Gott - in his hagiography of Chavez (2005) - sees him, 'in tacit alliance with the anti-globalisation protesters'. But since his 'WSF coups' - the first in Brazil winning over the audience, and the second in Caracas, hosting the event -it is not that tacit anymore.

Although beset by many infrastructural and organisational problems, the WSF turned out to be a very festival-like happening, as there were many concerts of traditional music, salsa, reggae, hip­hop, Cuban trova, and a lot of other more informal musical events.

world social forum, caracas 2006
Participant at the World Social Forum shows his support for the Bolivarian Revolution

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