Photo Essay: Americas Social Forum Guatemala 2008

James Rodríguez

Editor's Note: The third Americas Social Forum (ASF) took place in Guatemala City from October 7 to 12, 2008. Thousands of people and organizations, from every corner of the American hemisphere, gathered in the campus of the University of San Carlos, Guatemala, to participate, debate, exhibit, network, and develop progressive alternatives. As usual for any World Social Forum event, the ASF process in Guatemala was not without internal debates.


The third Americas Social Forum (ASF) took place in Guatemala City from October 7 to 12, 2008. “The ASF is part of the World Social Forum process which began in 2001 and has become the prominent space for the articulation of social initiatives, the development of critical thinking and the construction of alternatives to the Neo-liberal order. The common belief that ‘Another World is Possible’ forms an integral part of the movement.” (1)

Thousands of people and organizations, from every corner of the American continent, gathered in the campus of the University of San Carlos, Guatemala, in order to participate, debate, exhibit, network, and develop progressive alternatives. (2)

The forum’s resulting conclusions and proposals are too varied and extensive to list here. Hence, this photo essay will provide the reader with a selection of images and links to perspectives outside of MiMundo.org.

One of the forum’s most fervent final proclamations came via the Declaration by the Indigenous People’s and Nationalities of Abya Yala. The pronouncement states: “During the forum, we have identified capitalism, currently masked under the title of neo-liberalism which in turn becomes neo-colonialism, as the primary enemy of all species that inhabit our planet and the cosmos.” The complete declaration can be read, in Spanish only, here. (3)

Published in UpsideDownWorld.org, Marc Becker offers one of the few English language reviews of the forum: “Each social forum assumes its own character, and Jorge Coronado of the Hemispheric Commission from the Americas Social Forum, identified the Guatemala meeting as ‘the forum of resistance of the continental people's movement.’ Coronado observed that participants debated ‘some of the most pressing issues that face social movement struggles: free trade agreements, neoliberalism, and the issue of mining, which affects rural and indigenous communities.’” To read Becker’s complete article, please click here. (4)

Guatemalan writer Kajkoj (Máximo) Ba Tiul produced a refreshing and constructively critical essay regarding the power structures within the entities that conform and organize the ASF process: “If we declare that Another World is Possible, then we must also take into consideration that Another Political Left is Possible, and of course, Another Social Movement is Possible. Why do we insist on believing we are the only ones with answers? Or why do we think that only because he or she has been a historic leader, such a person is the only one speaking the truth? How is it possible that we demand the democratization of the State, but we are not capable of generating democratic processes within our own organizational structures?” Ba Tiul’s complete essay can be read, also only in Spanish, here. (5)

Unfortunately, not much English language coverage has been given to the ASF. The following independent news sites do provide large coverage, albeit in Spanish: Indymedia Chiapas (6) and ALAI Net (7).

Image from the third ASF’s opening ceremony.

Image from the third ASF’s opening ceremony.

Image from the third ASF’s opening ceremony.

Image from the third ASF’s opening ceremony.

Image from the third ASF’s opening ceremony.

Image from the third ASF’s opening ceremony.

Image from the third ASF’s opening ceremony.

Image from the third ASF’s opening ceremony.

“A Revolution without Art is like trying to change the system using money, power, violence and greed.”

Versión en español aquí.


James Rodríguez is an independent photo-documentarian based in Guatemala. His work is available online here. Any comments or interest in publishing, please contact me at james@mimundo.org
Notes:1 http://www.forosocialamericas.org/queesASF.php
2 http://estamosdefrente.blogspot.com/2008/10/foro-social-amricas.html
3 http://www.alainet.org/active/26861
4 http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1524/1/
5 http://www.i-dem.org/rd/2008/enero/101008-1542.htm
6 http://chiapas.indymedia.org/index.php?category=4
7 http://www.alainet.org/fsm.php

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