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Hi everyone, I am back from the World Movement for Democracy's Fourth Assembly, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey. It has been a very interesting week and a half. I was able to attend many workshops ranging from Latin American politics to decentralization to political parties and civil society. All in all, I have learned a lot and met many interesting people as well.
As you can see in the picture, the assembly was at the Istanbul conference center. A first class facility. There were around 700 attendees, so I'm told, from around 122 countries (my estimate). Representing Bolivia there were four people listed (including me), of which I met two. Not bad.
The Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, attended the opening ceremony and gave all the people a warm welcome. One of his main points was to express the readiness of Turkey to join the European Union. This issue seems to be on the top of the international agenda of his government. He took this opportunity to drive down the idea that Istanbul and Turkey did belong in the EU. I am sure it also helped that the US is keen in seeing Turkey joing the EU in the near future. For that matter, almost all of the Turkish officals in the assembly tried to make that point.
That includes the mayor of Istanbul, Dr. Mimar Kadir Topbas (on the microphone). On the second night of the assembly he threw us a monumental cultural party at one of the top hotels in Istanbul, the Conrad Hotel. On the image at the left, you can see him welcoming us to that party. Istanbul really threw a beautiful party. My thanks to the government of Istanbul for that.
As I mentioned I got to go to many interesting workshops. The workshop that interested me the most, though, was the one about decentralization. I got to listen and learn about other countrie's experience on decentralization. Later on, I had a very interesting conversation with a representative of the Institute of Social Sciences in New Delhi who told me a bit about India's experience with decentralization. He also told me that there was much interest on what is going on in Bolivia and that, in his opinion, Latin America seemed to him like a laboratory where many things would be tried before they were spread around the world. (hmmm) On another workshop about women's participation in Latin America, I got to meet many latinamerican women activists and researchers. There was an ecuadorian indigenous activist who was working on issues of education and shaping future leaders and a black-ecuadorian-woman activist, who talked about the barriers she has encountered to enter politics in her country. In the same workshop I got to meet the former Ombudswoman from Bolivia, Ana Maria Romero de Campero. She was, at one point in June 2005, briefly considered by Morales to run for Vice-president.
As I mentioned before, the experience was very rewarding and my visit to Istanbul/Consantinople/Byzantium was most of all unique. The report on the assembly most probably will be available online by end of summer. For those of you who might be interested, you can just check the WMD website.