On Saturday January 26, leaders of Ecuadorian indigenous and Afro-descendent organizations gathered as part of the worldwide 2008 World Social Forum Day of Action. The event was centered on a ceremony to celebrate "Pawkar Raymi de los Cambios" (The Blossoming of Change), as well as to express solidarity with the people of Bolivia and President Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president. The ceremony was also an occasion to symbolically transfer to Guatemala the mandate for the III Social Forum of the Americas, which will be held this October.
The ceremony, conducted by indigenous and Afroecuadorian women, gave offerings to the pachamama (earth) and sent out positive energy to the Action Day taking place around the world.
Speaking on behalf of the Americas Social Forum, Magdalena León underlined that this ritual, performed at midday and in the middle of the world, was the continuity of an earlier ritual that took place at dawn in Guatemala. Representatives of Bolivia and Guatemala were present to receive the symbolic offerings.
Bolivia’s government is under attack by right-wing organizations representing the country’s wealthy elite, after drafting a new constitution that recognizes Bolivia as a plurinational state and enshrines the rights of workers, campesinos and indigenous people. The ceremony also offered solidarity to the Mapuche people of Chile, who are fighting for indigenous rights despite severe government repression.
The event was presided over by indigenous leader Blanca Chancoso, who told the crowd, "No more resistance for the sake of resistance. Let us now resist to defend the gains we have won."