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The Alternative People's Urban Social Forum concludes successfully in Medellín

On Wednesday 9 April, the Alternative People's Urban Social Forum came to a successful close in Medellín, after a broad social and political movement came together to organise the event. The day ended with the International Tribunal on Evictions and the prize for Innovative Solutions for People's Housing in the Humboldt room of the Jardín Botánico.

Not to mention the lively, colourful and tumultuous carnival march full of joy, music and excitement, which took a long route through the city on Tuesday 8 April. The carnival march left from Puerto Nuevo in Moravia, where the communities affected by the construction of the Madre Laura bridge made a call for justice and solidarity, and rejection of the response by the Medellín local government to their demands for fair payment for their houses and property and fair treatment of the community affected by the construction of the mega-bridge. It ended in the symbolic Berrío Park, where it united for the day with campaigners for the right to health, who meet there every Tuesday at 6 pm. 

The APUSF will remain a positive high point for the left and for the Colombian social and political movement, having taking the correct decision to prepare, organise and hold this event. It is also the sign of an important commitment by these organisations, putting their conclusions into practice and continuing with the enormous task of working with the urban social movement, which due to its importance in popular struggles in Colombia, needs to regroup in order to establish political actions and urban demands, and link them to the just and united demands of the agricultural sector, which brings together rural workers, people of African heritage and indigenous peoples. 

The results of the APUSF, in terms of participation, do not tell us anything different. Developed as an Alternative Forum to the official one (the 7th World Urban Forum, with millions spent on resources and publicity), attended by 1,500 to 2,000 people, in the end more than 3,000 people signed up for it, exceeding expectations as well as the projections made, with significant implications for logistical capacity. 

But the APUSF should not be seen only in terms of the numbers of people who participated, or even over 36,000 entries on the APUSF blog, but also the youthful spirit of the event, and the joy and enthusiasm shown by the participants to be discussing fundamental questions about human dignity in the urban environment. In fact, our slogan is Let's build cities for human dignity, which will always be one of the challenges we bear in mind as we participate in this great event. 

No doubt, the outcome and admirable result of the APUSF is the product of decades of youth organisations, who worked tirelessly in the name of social movements and platforms, or independently, with a spirit of boldness and self-sacrifice, to ensure the success of this important event, due to the objectives it had, the wide-scale participation, the high-quality discussions held and the constructive spirit and articulation it gave rise to. 

Of particular note is the extremely important work of the youth groups for alternative communication such as the Alliance of Alternative Media and Colombia News. Without its early commitment to the APUSF, the publicity and support for the Alternative Social Forum on social networks would not have been possible. Another group which stood out for its contribution and dedication was the APUSF methodology committee, whose tireless work ensured that activities took place, such as in-depth thematic round table discussions and various panel meetings. We would also like to highlight the tireless work of the youth groups who organised the logistics of the event, particularly food and security for participants in the Forum. 

Finally, the APUSF coordinating team deserves a special mention for its political capacity in highlighting the importance of holding such a large event, which of course relies entirely on ideas, attitude, willingness and clarity about where we are going and what we want. We started off with no money but full of good ideas. That is, we were clear that we wanted to use ideas, arguments, organisation, mobilisation and proposals to contest the city of capital, modern and innovative; confront it based on the demands, requirements and reality of the working classes and the socially excluded, people invisible and displaced from their homes and the surrounding area and culture, asking what kind of cities do they want and would they fight for, in order to have a real impact, based on their commitment to building cities which allow human dignity for all. 

Congratulations to all the following organizations: Marcha Patriótica Antioquia, Congreso de los Pueblos, Mesa Interbarrial de Desconectados, neighbourhood organisations and urban collectives, socialist groups, and all our friends, to the International Alliance of Inhabitants, etc., who made it possible to maintain our reputation and restate our commitment to the social struggles of our peoples.

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Juliette Rutherford


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