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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Bumps on the Pathway to Another World

from the June 1, 2022 Bulletin

Daniel McCool, a transplant from Montreal who’s been in México for 22 years, works as a teacher, translator, and editor. McCool has a background in development economics and a particular interest in alternative socioeconomic models. He’s now living by choice in a rural area of Oaxaca, where he’s studying new approaches to food production and self-sufficiency. At last month’s World Social Forum in México City, McCool accompanied foreign visitors who needed housing and language interpretation.


What drives your interest in different economic models?

Daniel McCool: I’ve witnessed the disturbing social trends in México that the neoliberalization process has sped up over the last few decades. I used to be critical of López Obrador from the left, but after the disastrous presidencies of Calderón in 2006 and then Peña-Nieto in 2012, after elections stolen from AMLO, I became a big admirer. The neoliberal obsession with just increasing GDP — gross domestic product — has to stop! GDP measures how much money gets spent, but says nothing about who has the money and who doesn’t.


The World Social Forum took place in México City May 1-6. How did México get chosen to be the site?


In 2010, the World Social Forum didn’t have just one site. Different countries had their own simultaneous gatherings. Mexico was selected for 2022 in part for its 2010 success. Under then-mayor of México City Marcel Ebrard, now AMLO’s foreign secretary, the Zocalo was turned over to the WSF. The city government set up 14 large tents, provided wifi, and gave visa help to international guests. Ebrard himself came and gave an official welcome.


People anticipated that current México City mayor Claudia Scheinbaum, a more progressive leader than Ebrard, would behave similarly. But there was no official governmental welcome, and the lack of support was disappointing.

What was attending the 2022 WSF like?


Chaos! Organizers had to scramble in the final weeks to find venues for the events. They got help from the unions at UNAM, México’s top university, and other organizations like the city’s Mining Museum. The World Social Forum organizers may have made assumptions about government support that did not materialize.

The WSF opened on May 1 with a May Day parade. About 3,000 people from 30 different countries came. In terms of workshops, this was supposed to be a hybrid online/in-person event, but many venues did not have the capacity for simultaneous broadcasting of events, making international participation impossible. Some anticipated venues were canceled at the last minute, and the times for each event appeared only in international time rather than local México City time, and that just confused everyone even more.


In my case, of the first ten or so events I wanted to attend, only two took place in their original venues and at their posted times. Once I accepted that few of the events were taking place where they were supposed to take place, I did the only thing I could do, go to the major venues and select from whatever was going on there.


Were you able to get the information, inspiration, and contacts you were looking for?

Luckily for me, the Social Economy events had been well organized in advance, and I came away impressed with the solidarity economy projects going on across Latin America. People are experimenting with alternatives, rooted in local conditions and cultures, to see what can work where. México City, for instance, has a barter program that eliminates the use of money and helps the underemployed get products they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Other dynamic plenaries at this year’s WSF included one that featured union organizers from India, Brazil, Canada, and México.


How are people doing follow-up to expand their global networks?


Meetings are still going on to set up the structures for closer ties between organizations within México — about half of the participants were Mexican — and globally. In terms of solidarity economies, dialogues between México and other Latin American countries are taking place every two weeks. July is going to see a meeting in Brazil for TransAmazonian groups and a get-together for the Transformation Networks of Colombia.


It was the logistics of the WSF that were frustrating. I remain hopeful both for the future of México under Morena and for growing international exchanges that explore concrete ways to make other worlds possible.