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Taoufik Ben Abdallah:

quarta-feira 18 de maio de 2011, por ,

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Brazil’s experience can inspire Tunisia

The Tunisian Taoufik Ben Abdallah has lived in Dakar for many years. As the news about the conflict in Tunisia began to spread, he was working on the organization of the World Social Forum, whose next edition was taking place in that Senegalian capital. As member of the International Council of the WSF and the African Social Forum, he watched from there Ben Ali’s fall and the revolutionary winds that weaved over Northern Africa. He recalls: "The will of being in my country was so strong, but I couldn’t". The fall of another dictator of the region, the Egyptian Hosni Mubarak, coincided with WSF’s last day, having its participants from different countries celebrating in Dakar the victory of the feasting people at the Tahrir Square, Cairo. "I got the picture that it wasn’t a single moment. Changes were just beginning to happen".
With the end of the WSF, Taoufik took over the organization of a WSF group visit in Tunisia, according to proposal approved by the International Council assembled in Dakar. But besides the sympathetic connections of the WSF process, he also saw himself personally willing to take part in the search for institutional ways as alternative for a wide field of the Tunisian left. The country gets set for the election of a National Constituent Assembly to happen in July. And whilst some sectors of the social and syndical movement consider supporting a forefront to head the changes, other sectors discuss the creation of a new leading party to run for the government. Taoufik is among the ones who believe in the creation of a new party committed with the social, syndical and intellectual bases, aiming on the continuing of the revolutionary process. With this in mind, he plans to visit Brazil and intermediate contacts.
He explains that one of the goals is to bring some of the ones to whom he’s been talking closer to the Brazilian experience in the last 8 years of government. He profited by the presence of Rogerio Pantoja, director of the CUT (Unified Workers’ Central), in the sympathetic visit to the Tunisian process, to anticipate the interest in this exchange.

Which similarity do you see between Brazil and the current situation of Tunisia?
I see a possible exchange of experiences, for example, with PT (Wokers’ Party) and CUT, which played a strong role in the democratic transition of Brazil, and also with the current and previous governments, specially about the last years. In the economic light, Brazil has faced a world crisis keeping its social politics, gathering both politics, and Tunisia will have to do the same urgently. The way the revolution happened in Tunisia, unleashing mobilizations all over the country, may be interesting by the strategic light. And so may the influence of this process in the region.
What differs the revolution in Tunisia from other processes?
From the geopolitical view, the fact that the people conducted its process in Tunisia without external military intervention is very important. Europe and the USA didn’t make it easier for the revolution. Wherever France, Italy or the Britains lay their power on, this place automatically becomes part of the game afterwards. It’s impossible to make war siding France, when looking for the independence. Millions died for the independence in Algeria. We must defend the Tunisian process.

Which are the big risks?
Tunisia is a small country. Libya and Algeria aren’t democracies and exercise great pressure. What happened here is enough for Europe and the USA, because they will to dictate the future for the region. About internal risks, the first is the return of the RCD party, the dictatorship. Unless we change the insecurity, and with the increase of unemployment and social issues, the people might assume that the previous option was better. That happens because, even though the dictator has left, his supporters remain in the frames, and they might create a new RDC. Other risk is the fundamentalism. Unless the new State makes it to show the people and the youth a perspective, they might permit the growth of the fundamentalism.

And which are the ingredients for a new Tunisia?
A secular experience, as the one being defended on the streets (in demonstrations that occurred a month after the fall of the regime) can show the Arab world that it is possible for a government not to be against religions, but for the society. Besides, the country had a period, previous to Ben Ali’s dictatorship, which is being revised. The government of President Bourguiba, the first after the Independence and the fall of monarchy, although not very democratic, but known for the authoritarianism, had the importance on the fight against colonization, besides the modernity, which promoted advances, as the end of polygamy, women’s rights towards voting, plus the criminalization of violence. We need to rescue such elements of the history and promote democratic leeways.

From the Tunisian side, whom is this conversation going to be held with?
With intellectuals, syndicalists, people of the social movement... we are still discussing about taking a small group to