Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 23:45:33 -0600 (CST)
From: Colombian Labor Monitor <email@example.com>
Subject: 2,500 revolutionaries converge on Brazil
2,500 revolutionaries converge on Brazil
By Nicole Veash, Colombian Labor Monitor, 6 December 1999
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Leftist and guerrilla groups from across the Americas will descend on an Amazon jungle town today to swap tips on winning the revolutionary struggle.
Militant groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the Mexican Zapatistas, are to join with demonstrators fresh from the battle in Seattle in a five-day, corporate-style convention of more than 2,500 delegates to discuss the path to power. "We are very pleased that so many minority groups are joining together in Brazil to discuss their common causes," said Manoel Lima Amarel, a coordinator of the event, the Humanities Against Neo-Liberalism summit.
"We believe it is important for all oppressed Americans to support each other and to work as one."
Conference organizers chose the city of Belem, situated on the banks of the Amazon, for its history. In 1835 it was the site of a failed uprising by Indians who protested being forced into the slave trade by Portuguese settlers.
"Today, America's minorities are still suffering injustices," said Amarel. "Holding this conference in Belem reminds us how little has changed in the past 160 years."
However, despite the presence of known paramilitary groups, the Brazilian authorities have not raised any objections to the summit.
Francisco Martins, a spokesman for the civil police in Belem, said: "We will be keeping a close eye on them and certainly listening out for any inflammatory talk.
"But as long as these people behave themselves there won't be any problems."
The authorities have even allowed some delegates to camp inside school halls and local sports centers, while others are staying free of charge at family homes in the community.
Magno Carvalho, founder of the Brazilian Solidarity Committee for the Zapatistas, said: "Support from Brazil has always been regarded as crucial to our movement's success. We hope this conference will encourage more people to join our cause.
"It's an opportunity to trade experiences and also learn new methods of action. If all the groups work together, then there is every chance of success in the future."
Conference organizers insist that the convention will be peaceful and have banned delegates from exchanging techniques on guerrilla warfare.
"This summit is not about violence," said Amarel. "It's about ideology. There are other ways to destroy the chains of capitalism without resorting to aggression."
Using the slogan "All the winds have a destiny," alongside the logo of a native Indian woman with a child in her arms, the conference has been openly advertised on the Internet to all would-be revolutionaries.
Brazil's landless peasant movement, trade unions, and indigenous Indian tribes are also attending.
However, some activists have turned down the chance of mulling over the world's problems with the Americas' revolutionaries.
Ann Dingwall, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, said: "We did get an invitation to attend the conference, but it just wasn't suitable for us."
The summit is being organized along the same lines as any other industry convention with keynote lectures and smaller debates.
Delegates, who pay a $3.70 entry fee, will also discuss the formation of Hope International, a body dedicated to fighting for minority rights across the world.
Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company
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