CARACAS, Jan 29 (AFP): The World Social Forum wraps up in Caracas Sunday after six days of debate on globalization, poverty and war, and some concern over the dominant role played by Venezuela's leftist president and Cuban officials.
More than 60,000 people took part in the event, which featured workshops on a plethora of issues, ranging from the struggle against free trade and imperialism to the debt burden in Latin America and the rights of indigenous people.
Hosted and financed by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, the gathering was marked by virulent criticism of the administration of President George W. Bush and the Iraq war.
In downtown Caracas, where delegates from social, feminist, labor and other organisations gathered daily in hotel conference rooms, schools and tents, a banner covered four stories of a high-rise building with the words: "Bush lied, fire him."
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a US soldier who died in Iraq, drew rousing cheers as she denounced Bush for "waging a war of terrorism against the world."
Sheehan was among the guests of honor Friday night when Chavez delivered a two-hour speech to the WSF, denouncing the "genocidal" US administration, and calling Bush "the world's biggest terrorist."
Chavez was given a hero's welcome by participants, who joined him in singing the socialist "Internationale" and hailing Cuba's communist President Fidel Castro.
Street vendors in the city center did brisk business selling Chavez dolls, T-shirts with the effigy of iconic revolutionary leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara and other revolutionary souvenirs.
But Chavez warned against turning the annual meeting, staged as an ideological counterpoint to the Davos World Economic Summit of political and business leaders, into "a folkloric and touristic event."