Sociologist calls on Rousseff to improve dialogue with social movements

For Ivana Bentes, a secretary in the Ministry of Culture, it is

Published in 26/03/2015 - 10:11 By Ana Cristina Campos reports on the scene for Agência Brasil/EBC - Tunis, Tunisia

Sob chuva forte e temperatura de 15 graus Celsius, os participantes da tradicional marcha que marca a abertura do Fórum Social Mundial caminharam de forma pacífica, na tarde de hoje (24), pelas ruas da região central

World Social Forum (WSF) in Tunis, TunisiaLeandro Melito, repórter do Portal EBC

In a debate at the World Social Forum (WSF) in Tunis, Tunisia, Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos, director of the Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, called on President Dilma Rousseff to improve dialogue with social movements. Santos, who has been in all WSF events since it began in Porto Alegre in 2001, said “She [Rousseff] is still in time to change direction and turn to social movements quickly. But it takes political will.”

For the sociologist, who is also a founder of the Popular University of Social Movements, the social and political scene has gone through a lot of change since the early 2000s, when there was a strong mood for social and political change and social participation. Many Latin American countries, he pointed out, are experiencing difficulties and we should learn from their mistakes.

“I think many mistakes have been made throughout these years; some of them have to do with the fact that social participation, which was instrumental in the political change [that has taken place], has lost momentum. Social movements must not lose heart, they must put pressure on the existing progressive governments so they won't surrender,” Santos advised.

For Ivana Bentes, Secretary for Citizenship and Cultural Diversity, it is critical to discuss participation in the polls as voters and in the streets. “Since 2013, we have seen Brazilians take to the streets in both left and right-wing protests. This is absolutely legitimate – what does seem to lack is a connection between the streets and the vote, that is, people want to be co-managers of State policies.”

According to Bentes, social movements and the State must think of new forms of participation to bridge this gap between street demonstrations and public policy. “The State is sluggish and struggles to incorporate social innovations, but people are less and less willing to accept this sluggishness. Many of the events that we see on the streets reveal a desire to see a streamlined State framework that can respond faster to keep up with a world that's online and interconnected. And when it comes to social movements, demonstrations are not enough. We need proposals. The big question the movements have to deal with is, you go to the streets and then what happens next?”

Boaventura Sousa Santos and Ivana Bentes were speakers in a roundtable on social participation at Casa Brasil, a venue promoted by the organizations that are part of Brazil's delegation.

Translated by Mayra Borges

Fonte: Sociologist calls on Rousseff to improve dialogue with social movements

Edition: Fábio Massalli / Olga Bardawil

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