A group of about 80 anti-globalization intellectuals and political activists, including Marxist economists and organizers, came together to meet on Jan. 18-19 in Bamako, Mali, just before the polycentric World Social Forum opened in this city. The gathering, which was not an official WSF activity but whose invitees also participated in many WSF discussions, issued a statement at the end of the meeting: the Bamako Appeal.

The appeal involves promoting discussion and action on a series of points outlining major problems for humanity. These include the need to build a workers' united front and to struggle against imperialist domination and U.S. military hegemony; the problems of peasant societies under threat of destruction from subsidized competition; democratic management of media and cultural diversity; and the struggle against neoliberal and market-driven policies.

One of the Bamako Appeal's major goals is to promote solidarity among workers and progressives in the imperialist countries and the peoples' movements in the oppressed countries. The appeal says the participants "have expressed their concern with the task of defining alternate goals of development, creating a balance of societies, abolishing exploitation by class, gender, race and caste, and marking the route to a new relation of forces between North and South."

Egyptian economist and head of the Third World Forum Samir Amin, who is a professor at the University of Dakar in Mali's neighbor Senegal, had called this pre-WSF gathering a "Peoples' Bandung Conference" to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1955 conference of non-aligned nations held in Bandung, Indonesia. Some of the Malian political leaders working on the WSF hosted and participated in the conference. They included former Minister of Culture Aminata Traore.

Among the 80 people participating in the pre-WSF discussions were Bernard Founou-Tchuigoua? and Babacar Diop Buuba, both university professors in Dakar, Senegal; former member of the European Parliament Miguel Urbano Rodrigues of Portugal; Chilean political journalist Marta Harnecker; Lebanese-French? editor Leila Ghanem; and the organizer of the rebelion.org website Luciano Alzaga.

Also there were Wen Tiejun and Jinhua Dai of Peking University; editor-in-chief Isobel Monal of the Cuban magazine "Marx Now"; Brazilian radical economist Paolo Nakatini and Communist Party of Brazil representative Jose Reinaldo Carvalho; French economist Remy Herrera; trade-union expert Ingmar Lindberg of Sweden; Antonio Tujan of the Philippine Institute of Political Economy; Mamdouh Habashi of the Anti-Globalization? Egyptian Group; and John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review from the United States.

Ignacio Ramonet of Le Monde Diplomatique, Bernard Cassen of Attac-France? and anti-globalization author Susan George, who have been closely connected with all prior major social forums, also spoke.

Along with the invited guests, there were also some groups of youths from some of the former French colonies, in particular Senegal, Benin and Togo. Some of the Cuban medical and other aid workers in Mali also participated.

To carry out the discussion the larger group split up into 10 different committees. These held intense discussions for about three hours each, five committees at a time. Some of the committees decided to try to set up permanent watchdog commissions, such as "imperialism watch" and "ecology watch."

Alarcon asks for anti-imperialist actions Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon took part in the discussions too. He made some practical suggestions. One was that the Bamako Appeal have as its goal not simply to set up an anti-imperialist forum that outlines a program or spreads ideas, but that it also organize for coordinated anti-imperialist actions.

The Bamako Appeal does call for some actions. Among them is support for the March 18-19 worldwide days of anti-occupation demonstrations.

The call says it aims "to reinforce the movement protesting against war and occupations, as well as expressing solidarity with the people in fight in the hot spots of the planet. In this respect, it would be very important that the world demonstration against the war in Iraq and the military presence in Afghanistan envisaged for March 18-19, 2006, coincide with:

  • the prohibition of the use and the manufacture of the nuclear weapons and destruction of all the existing arsenals;
  • the dismantling of all the military bases existing outside of national territory, in particular the base at Guantanamo;
  • the immediate closing of all the prisons of the CIA."

The appeal also calls for solidarity with Palestine and for being on guard to stop U.S. intervention against Venezuela and Bolivia.

In summary, the "Bamako Appeal, built around the broad themes discussed in subcommittees, expresses the will to:

(i) Construct an internationalism joining the peoples of the South and the North who suffer the ravages engendered by the dictatorship of financial markets and by the uncontrolled global deployment of the transnational firms;

(ii) Construct the solidarity of the peoples of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas confronted with challenges of development in the 21st century;

(iii) Construct a political, economic and cultural consensus that is an alternative to militarized and neoliberal globalization and to the hegemony of the United States and its allies."

Catalinotto represented the International Action Center at the pre-WSF meetings.

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