Guest Contribution: Reports from the #WSFM / # FSMM in São Paulo


rodrigo_profileEarlier this month, the 7th edition of the World Social Forum of Migration (WSFM) took place in São Paulo. I was not able to attend, but award-winning blogger Rodrigo Borges Delfim has closely followed the process. The founder of the Portuguese-language blog MigraMundo has shared his impressions and kindly provided an English translation – You can find four of his reports below:

(apologies for the wild formatting, I am currently in Cuba and Internet Access is very sketchy/limited. I will add some polish later…)


I: Assessment of the WSFM / FSMM

  • By Rodrigo Borges Delfim
  •       “It was the first Conference I took part, in spite of the fact that have been working as an activist in the migratory issue for eight years and I have been following the news from the other editions. I think the mobilization of the migrant communities that live here in São Paulo was not as effective as it was supposed to be. For example, I belong to the Bolivian community, which is very big and could not show up in droves. But the most remarking thing to me was forming this network with other collectives from Brazil and from the world who work with migrations and realize with all of them that the access to education is not punctuated in the discussions. Education is liberating and it needs to be punctuated.”Veronica Yujira, Bolivian – Si, Yo Puedo Project Coordinator, focused in education and integrant of the Conference’s Programming Commission   “I really liked the activities I have seen and also the people in every one of them. I think there was a lack of organization about the tables’ schedules and another missing thing was the names of the people who were coordinating the tables. However, I highlight the very positive presence of the gastronomic fair and the cultural activities that in my point of view bring another way to communicate the issue of migration beyond the academic view besides diversifying and enriching the discussion.”Carolina Becker Peçanha – Social scientist and volunteer in the GAIRF (Group of Support for Immigrants and Refugees of Florianópolis).    Municpality   English version by Fernando ChebraThe opening of the 7th edition of the World Social Forum of Migration (WSFM), on this Wednesday (7th) in São Paulo, was marked by the sanction of the Law Project 142/2016, which establishes the Municipal Policy to the Immigrant Population. With that, São Paulo’s capital became the first city in the country to have a law to assure the rights of the foreigners who live in it.To the mayor Fernando Haddad, who was at the WSFM’s opening ceremony, the new law represents a new view to the immigrants’ and refugees’ issues. It tries to promote the equality, the inclusion and therefore, the autonomy of these people. Among the planned actions, we highlight the fight against the xenophobia and racism, the adoptions of actions to regularize the migratory situation and the support in the processing of the respective documents.Besides that, the law institutionalizes the Immigrant Support Reference Center (CRAI), which is a reference in social and psychologic assistance. And to strengthen the social participation of the immigrants, it creates the Immigrant Municipal Council intending to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the new policy’s guidelines.“Hosting this Forum is an honor to the city of São Paulo, and I am sure that we will exchange lots of impression about how to face the migrating challenge in the world”, said Haddad. “We are willing to offer experiences, but also collect material so we can improve our policies about immigration. São Paulo gave the example, and I hope the other mayors do the same”.Forum ActivitiesOn next Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Forum participants can attend several cultural performing and discussions about the migratory issue in Brazil and the world in six thematic conferences and 167 self-coordinated activities. The entire schedule happens at Zumbi dos Palmares University at its neighbor Centro Esportivo Tietê, near Armênia subway station.After taking part of the WSFM previous edition in Johannesburg (South Africa), Father Paolo Parisi, Missão Paz coordinator, believes that the event is an opportunity for experiences exchanging and good actions by the refugees, migrants and institutions that work in the area. “We will have fantastic experiences”.During the event, Missão Paz will speak about the experience in assistance to migrants in São Paulo; it will discuss themes like the new Migration Law, houses, work. And it will present the Cross Magazine new edition’s result about sexuality and gender identity in the migratory process.To the director of the Migration and Human Rights Institute (IMDH), Rosita Milesi, the expectation is to straighten the network built by several groups and institutions. “The Forum is always a great opportunity for articulation, where the entities can relate with each other. We want to bring this proposal of joint action to the table we want to take part with some national and international networks.” The Migration and Human Rights Institute will also discuss the climatic changes and the reality of the Haitian in Brazil.
  • Original Source:
  • policy for immigrants in São Paulo is sanctioned at WSFM opening

 II: Municipal policy for immigrants in São Paulo is sanctioned at WSFM opening

By Ricardo Rossetto and Géssica Brandino

According to the organization, around 1.600 people from 57 countries among participants and guests attended the Forum. Besides the six thematic conferences (one for each axis of the event), other 167 self-organized activities took place there. Their goal was complement and expand the discussions proposed in each axis.

Solène Bedoux – French, Cártias France integrant.“The themes we found here were very interesting. I could not understand some things very well because of the lack of translators in some self-organized activities, but I think the organization was good, generally speaking. I missed some tables that specifically approached the migratory policy in Europe, which is something very important. But the biggest strength in this Conference is the possibility of exchanging experiences and building networks with people from other parts of the world and seeing that all of us have the same feeling, the same cause.”

Adama Konate – Malian, Immigrant Counselor of Mooca’s District Council in São Paulo.

“I think it was very good, with the presence of the Africans who live in São Paulo, immigrants from Senegal, Congo, Mali, among others. We tried to discuss what happens inside the migration, the discriminations that happen against the immigrants and even among themselves. I think we have learned a lot.”

Paulo Illes – FSMM’s 7th edition technical coordinator and integrant of the Conference’s International Council.

“Our impression is very positive. We have had a great diversity of participation here, the immigrants taking part actively in the discussions and proposing activities. We have had all the continents represented at the tables, discussions with women and immigrants. We have reached a very concise final document that defends the democracy, condemns the coup d’état in Brazil and proposes policies for the immigrants and defends the right of migrate.

Father Paolo Parise – Italian and Peace Mission coordinator in São Paulo

In four days (from July 7th to July 10th), the World Social Forum on Migration in São Paulo was the scene of important debates on migration themes and policy frameworks like the sanction of the Municipal Policy for the Immigrant Population of the capital (São Paulo), the appeal for the new Migration Law and the highlights for the discussions about migration and gender. And how about the people? What impressions did the Conference leave? What were the strengths and what areas need improving? What is the legacy left to the next edition, which is predicted planned for 2018 in Mexico? MigraMundo has interviewed some of the participants and organizers during the event and now brings the opinions of each one of them below. The contents of the discussions, the partnership opportunities, the cultural schedule and the possibility of approaching the immigrants were some of the strengths highlighted by the people. On the other hand, they related delays in the tables’ schedules, misinformation about where the discussions would take place and the sensation that the Conference has been more “national” and “latin american” than global. “There is a very good constant which is the dialogue among immigrants, institutions, academics, activists and this is fantastic. The expositions also bring perspectives that enrich the understanding about the migrations. However, the event seemed more national to me. The international presence decreased a little, related to others. I think there still has to be thinking over it for the next editions. But in what concerns to Brazil, it was great, because the main actors of the migratory issue were here.”    English version by Fernando Chebra

 III: Food and Culture

In WSFM, culture and gastronomy allow a direct touch with the migrants and their experiences

By Rodrigo Borges Delfim

In cooperation with Eva Bella

English version by Fernando Chebra


Among the debates, reflections and articulations of the 7th World Social Forum of Migration, which started on Wednesday and runs through Sunday in São Paulo, the cultural and gastronomic attractions are worth an apart highlight.


To the people who attended the Forum, it is a great opportunity of closely experiencing what people from so different origins can offer. To the immigrants and refugees who offer both handcraft and gastronomy, it is a way of cultural and social affirmation and empowerment as well.


Centro Esportivo Tietê concentrates the most part of these activities, either on the main stage, or around the park.

Culture and Protest


In the time intervals between the discussions, the attentions focused on the Forum’s main stage, where cultural groups from different nationalities perform. One of them is the “Santa Mala”, composed by three Bolivian women [rappers, as they prefer to be called] who fight for the female empowerment through the music and expose problems experienced by the migrant women.


Responsible for one of the Forum’s “warm-up” activities, the Folkloric Group Kantuta Bolívia was also present during the event. Just like at Paulista Avenue, on the last 3rd of July, they drew the attention of most of the public.


“This is a very important time to discuss our problems and set ourselves as fundamental agents in the migratory processes – law building, public policies, etc. We have done everything possible to strengthen the migrant participation in the Forum and after it”, explains Miguel Dores, who is a Portuguese integrant of Permanent Visa – group which approaches the migration through an audiovisual way and which is also present in the Forum’s cultural and artistic schedule.


Handicraft in the past and in the present


In an indoor area of the Centro Esportivo Tietê there is a little cultural fair, with handicraft and typical clothing from countries like Ecuador, Togo, Paraguay, Peru, Cuba and Syria.


The Peruvian Maria Anella, who has been living in Brazil for 15 years, is in the Forum with her husband, who is also a Peruvian. They are selling clothing and typical souvernirs from their homeland. “When we arrived here, we did that as a living [selling Peruvian goods]. And this way, we want to show the people who are coming to Brazil today that there are ways to get a living here and open doors.”


Nowadays they work in the Support Center and Migrant Pastoral Care, (CAMI), a well-known entity among the immigrants, especially the ones from the Latin communities.


Flavors and histories from all around the world


One of the gyms from the Tietê Sports Center has become the Forum’s food court. And there you can fill your stomach with a Syrian appetizer, a Congolese or Haitian lunch, and you can taste a Peruvian dessert – just to give you a sample of the several combinations and gastronomic trips that can be done. All of this made most by immigrants and refugees who live in Brazil.


“Here I have the opportunity of showing a little bit of the flavors from my country, an at the same time, it is an opportunity to all the immigrant get together to forget about the conflicts that made us migrate” – explains the Colombian Jair Rojas, who cooks arepas, patacones and other delicacies in a restaurant called Macondo Colombian Roots.


Another person who bet on gastronomy to as a living in Brazil is the Syrian refugee Muna Darweesh, who ran an on-demand Arabic food business along with her husband [Muna Arabic Flavors & Memories] and it is a constant presence in migrant cultural events. Graduated as an English Literature teacher, she has found in cooking a way of reinvent herself; restart her life away from home and self-affirmation as well. “I would like to tell every woman who migrates from her country to another, to be strong and self-confident to find solutions for her life and her children”.


Also from Syria, the tourist guide Ali Jerati is another one who bet on his homeland’s cuisine for a living in Brazil. “We sell Arabic food to help our family and bring it here. We love living on our jobs, showing the Brazilians our culture”, he said.


The Haitian Patrick, besides showing the Caribbean cuisine, he also sees the Forum as a great political articulation opportunity and he invites all the other immigrants to do the same. “We always do a lot of efforts to attend events like these. Let’s fight to change what we want to change to assure our rights, show our culture. We also have to fight for the right to vote, after all, one way or another; we are also contributing to the country.”




During the Forum it is also possible to see two recent expos again, both related to the migratory theme. One of them is the show Draw Attention Letters that was exposed in mid-2015 at the Immigration Museum in São Paulo. It was built from the letters elaborated by immigrants and refugees who attended the Portuguese course from Hope Arsenal.


And right next to the handicraft fair there is the expo We Are All Immigrants, which had its première in November 2015 and it has already passed by several places in São Paulo, like subway stations, fairs and public institutions.


The seventh edition of the World Social Forum of Migration runs through Sunday (10th) in São Paulo.




 IV: Last Day Palestine

Last Day of WSFM is marked by Migration Law, Gender and Palestine


By Rodrigo Borges Delfim

Translated to English by Fernando Chebra


After four days of discussions, articulations besides social and cultural experiences exchanging, the seventh edition of the World Social Forum on Migration (WSFM) has come to the end. According to the organizers around 1600 people from 57 distinct nationalities attended the event, which happened from July 7th to July 10th.


The last day had the analysis and approving of the Conference and the legacy official statement that has been left to the next edition – predicted planned for 2018 in Mexico. But besides that, above all, the mobilizations for the approval of the new Migration Law took place there, to the continuity of the gender axis in the next Conferences and the Palestine issue.


In the afternoon, cultural activities were held and they closed the event.




The WSFM which started with the sanction by the City of São Paulo of the Municipal Policy to the Migrant Population had in its end a public appeal for the approval of the Law Project 2516/2015 that reverses the current Statute of the Foreign and establishes a new Migration Law.


Led by civil society entities which work on the migratory theme, the campaign for the new law’s approval counted on the support of the Conference participants. The Brazilian Federal Deputies Orlando Silva and Bruna Furlan also attended the event. They are respectively rapporteur and president of the special commission of the House who analyze the project. Both of them emphasize the nonpartisan nature of the proposal, the need to change the Foreign Statute paradigm, and they asked for the immigrants and the civil society’s presence in Brasília, on next Wednesday (13th) in the special commission’s meeting to ask for the project’s approval.


In the session of last Wednesday (6th) a group request for examination of some congressmen called off the analysis of the Law Project 2516/2015, frustrating the representatives of the civil society who were present in the place. The fact has raised the need of increase the mobilization around the project’s approval. On the social networks the hashtag #novaleidemigraçãojá (#newmigrationlawnow) is already circulating. It has the goal of inviting the society to join the effort to change the national migratory mark.


A new meeting of the special commission is predicted scheduled for the next Wednesday (13th) in the House.


Gender and Palestine in discussion


The approval of the official statement of the Conference has risen a lot of debates to be done in the version presented to the assembly. Among them, there were two discussions that most called attention – Gender and Palestine.


One of the differentials of this year’s Conference, the adding of the axis “Migration, Gender and Body” was a result of the mobilization from groups of migrant women during the event’s building process. And though the first version of the Conference’s statement praised the inclusion of the gender discussions as one of the axes, it did not defend the continuing to the following editions in an explicit way. And the migrant women organized around the theme did not lose the opportunity of claim the continuity of the axis on the next Conferences – and it ended up included in the final version of the document.


Another issue of great discussion was the condemnation of the State of Israel because of its position about Palestine since the creation of the country in 1948. The term was not well regarded by part of the assembly because they considered it could leave room for the antisemitism that suggested the change to “condemnation to the current Israel’s government policy.” The proposal was refused by the Palestine representation. The discussion ended with a change in the final text to “condemnation to the State policy practiced by Israel.”




About Dr. Stefan Rother

Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute at the University of Freiburg -- Freelance journalist -- You can find my CV at the links below:
This entry was posted in Migration, WSFM and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s