At the final session of the World Social Forim in Caracas, Venezuela, on behalf of the Stop the War Coalition I made the call for a global day of protest against the occupation of Iraq and any further new wars on 18 March. This was the first activity agreed at the activist assembly of the World Social Forum which brought together more than 100,000 people representing social movements, trade unions and anti-war groups attending the Social Forum.
The evening before I was one of just two European delegates who joined with five US activists, including Cindy Sheehan, in a working meeting with President Hugo Chavez. We discussed co-operation in resisting further Bush wars. We discussed the direct link between the campaign to end the US occupation of Iraq and the ever present threat of intervention by Washington against the government of Venezuela.
Chavez proposed that the World Social Forum should be the launch pad for a world wide anti-imperialist front. Under discussion were other initiatives that the government and people of Venezuela could take in the fight against war and US intervention. He agreed that 18 March was a key date and agreed to do what he can to promote it globally. At the close of the meeting I addressed a press conference on the steps of the presidential palace and Cindy Sheehan went live on Chavez's own televesion programme, Ola Presidente, to talk about the 18 March.
Chavez and his advisers have kept a keen eye on the growth of the anti-war movement globally. One government minister has publically said that the resistance to the US occupation of Iraq has prevented Bush acting directly against the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. The call for global action on 18 March has been endorsed by a host of organisations across Latin America. Like Chavez they see the fight against Bush's wars as the front line in the resistance to the neo-liberal offensive devastating their continent, to the developing US military presence in Paraguay and to the threat posed by the US to the radical movements in Venezuela and Bolivia in particular.