The Third Social Forum of the Americas Has Begun in Guatemala

Guatemala City -- October 7, 2008.- The Social Forum of the Americas has begun, with most of the nearly 2000 participants arriving today. The registration process begun normally while switching from an automated system to a manual one. All the packets and a beautiful bag where distributed to each registered delegate. There was not doubt here that Spanish is the official language of the forum. The other undisputed presence is that of the Mayan people. In fact, their presence has been felt not only in numbers, but also in spiritual influence. Mayan religious ceremonies have gone on at dawn and sundown.

The first part of the inaugural event was a full hour-and-a-half of new and old music of struggle from Latin America. Many ofthe participants were able to follow dear songs of struggle like those dedicated to Che Guevara, Solo le pido a Dios (All I ask from God), No basta con rezar (Not enough to pray), and the People united will never be defeated.

Among the speakers, all of whom where amazingly self-controled in terms of time, where peasant leaders, native leaders, Latino lesbian leaders, and perhaps the highest ranking official of a country was the former president of the Constitutional Assemble from Ecuador Alberto Acosta who announced to the cheers of the audience that the revolutionary process of Ecuador has promised that the "U.S. military base in Manta will be dismantled in 2009."

The other important announcement made is that on Thursday at 2pm there will be a rally in solidarity with the people of Bolivia. President Evo Morales has confirmed his attendance to the event as of today.

Tomorrow will begin the workshops and presentations. The scope of matters that will be discussed is very wide and it will be serious work. After the opening ceremony today that ended with the sound of marimbas and a beautiful pirotecnic dance performed by two young men who at the rythm of music let different layers of fireworks off from a base they carried on their heads, the delegates who have arrived here by bus and planes are ready to go.