What’s the Forum really about?

Collective work from various groups against the Forum of Cultures 2004:


Forum 2004 is already here. Thanks a lot. This motto was all around Barcelona by the time this map hit the streets on March 19, 2004. But, what is this Forum really about?

As you may see in this map, Forum is mainly about lies and false events. Forum is about diversity, about the “Other”: the immigrant without a permit chased by the police and exploited. It’s about sustainability: a City Council that has become the biggest real estate speculator in town. Forum is also about peace made through war: the war in Iraq and everyday wars in our own town. That’s what the Forum is actually about.

Forum is huge scenery. It’s a setup that distorts reality, where the show is nothing but the Forum itself. This map tries to show what’s going on behind the scene.

For several months, social groups and movements in Barcelona that stand against Forum 2004 have worked together to share the information and experience this map tries to show. Like any other map, this one is not absolutely exact, nor is it finished:

Link up its points,
Add the missing ones,
And draw lines of action.

“What is Forum 2004 really about?” is already here. Thanks a lot.


De qué va realemente el Fórum?
The map is for everyone. Download and use it. .zip (12,8Mb)

A few corporations and institutions that sponsor or are related to Forum 2004 and some spaces in conflict related to the Forum 2004


War,unsustainability, immigration, real estate speculation and culture.


In this map we intend to show the links between Forum 2004 and the war economy. You may see that a significant part of the enterprises that are sponsors or partners of Forum 2004 are either weapons systems builders or have a share in such enterprises. Some of the Forum 2004 enterprises are members of the strong military industry lobbies in Spain, have direct economic interests in post war Iraq or supply several armed services, US Navy among them, with military equipment.

You may also see some of the war related enterprises that will settle in 22@ in Poblenou, a neighbourhood that, according to the City Council of Barcelona, is to become «a paradigm of the land use mix that should represent a quantum leap in our way of making a city». In any case, it’s quite evident that Barcelona, the «city of peace» is to become a paradise for the settlement of high tech war related corporations and an important node in the network of design, production and sales of weapons that is being woven around the planet. The map clearly shows one of the main paradoxes of Forum 2004, i.e., that an event which is meant to discuss the conditions for peace is sponsored by corporations that make profit from armed conflict and is, in this way, establishing the conditions for war.

Economía de Guerra

Insostenibilidad medioambiental

Lower Besòs river area
Forum 2004, built on the banks of Besòs River, has set off the programmed substitution of artificial landscapes for natural biodiversity —at a huge energetic cost. Water in that river is as polluted as it has been for a long time, because of inadequate sewerage systems that actually dump polluted water into the river —up to ten times its natural water flow. Instead of improving its environmental quality, the riverbed has been covered with lawn, banks have been covered with concrete and the river itself has been diverted into the water treatment plant at the Forum. This lawn, an absurd patchwork for jogging set in a place where one should find the river and the riverbank forest, is actually built on a huge dump of waste no one ever bothered to treat.

The riverbed section between the mouth and Mollet del Vallés has actually been turned into an illegal chemical waste dump that has polluted large underground water reserves. During the building of Forum 2004 alone, tens of thousands of tons of toxic soil (with heavy metals such as chromium) had to be removed. But if you look at all this from the newly built Forum bridge, you’ll see it as green and as pretty as a festival of “metapolitan” carpets and avant-garde architecture. One wonders: Is the lawn on the Besòs real?

Zona d’Activitats Logístiques/Logistic Activity Area. Barcelona’s great bet into the future is the traffic of manufactured goods, shipped in on a 1.5 million containers —growing by 10 per cent every year. Such goods are manufactured in Asia and Latin America under new forms of labour exploitation: the infamous maquilas, isolated industrial areas where hundreds of thousands work very close to slavery (like in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico). Logistic activity areas, usually in large harbours and almost tax free, and the massive use of containers (easily shifted from ships into trains or lorries), help multinational corporations to force Third World production areas to compete with each other deteriorating wage levels and the environment, as well as to strengthen their grip on supermarket–city shops, which are able to save on import and stocking costs if they accept global goods. That’s why we find the same shops all over the world. Barcelona plans to enlarge tenfold its ZAL, which will double the harbour in size. To do so, the Llobregat River will be diverted and its mouth actually moved a mile and a half to the south, destroying natural delta marshes that are very important for birds (they’re actually ZEPA and PEIN areas protected under the Bern Convention).

This gigantic operation was launched under the motto “Barcelona, la botiga més gran del món” (Barcelona, the largest shop in the world). It intends to turn the city into a huge shopping mall and a euromediterra-nean logistic centre —under the coverage of a “culture Forum”. No wonder the main corporations supporting the Forum are investing in the new harbour or in the Zona Franca.

Sea and beaches

Yachting harbours are responsible for the loss of sand on the beaches. After a building fever during the nineties, a moratorium was established —only to be broken by the new marinas at Forum and Sant Adrià. The loss of sand is huge. Every year, regeneration programs are carried out at an unsustainable economic and environmental cost —new sand is brought from the seabed, which is in its turn devastated.

Freshwater from the Besòs River would carry millions of faecal bacteria per cubic meter into the Olympic beaches, were it not diverted into the Forum treatment plant and dumped into the sea about half a mile from the shore. Sea water at the shore contains 14 different polycyclic carbohydrates, most of them carcinogenic, usually coming from ships, as well as different amounts of lead, chromium, copper, cadmium, iron and manganese, plus tensioactives (from detergents), PCB organoclorates (very carcinogenic), pesticides and hydrocarbons. Concentrations may sometimes be very high and pollute beaches all the way down to the Barceloneta. All these pollutants are not taken into account in summer beach quality reports —only faecal bacteria are, and samples are taken only on the surface. Until five years ago, both Montcada and Sant Adrià water treatment plants were dumping 500 tons of toxic mud per day (during 20 years) into the sea just in front of the Forum area. They have created an underwater toxic island that will continue to free its toxic substances for many years to come. These substances find their way into fish and seafood —in an area where fishing is usual.



Forum 2004 sees «cultural diversity» as the cause of injustice and social inequality, and the good will of citizens as the main solution for such issues. Faithfully serving corporate interests, Forum 2004 conceals practices of entrepreneurial imperialism that force thousands of people to emigrate as well as the legal system that doesn’t accept immigrants as citizens, forces them into exploitation and continuous police control. By concealing things this way, the official discourse intends to deactivate any social project that might endanger the interests of those who benefit from the oppression and precariousness of people.

The map shows the links between corporations and institutions that sponsor Forum 2004 and the Africans, Asians and Latin Americans that live in Barcelona in poverty and out of the law —most of those who live here. Only some of those links appear actually on the picture —just a small sample.



Forum 2004 is the big ad, the glossy decoy designed to lure profiteers into the largest property speculation operation in the history of Barcelona (a city that has already known quite a few). Those who are benefiting from this operation like to call it urban redevelopment. You may check the red areas, labelled especulació, on the general map.

What’s this urban redevelopment really about? Let’s take a closer look at Poblenou, the neighbourhood in which the 22@ project is being developed. Forum 2004 is actually nothing but the best known and friendliest side of the 22@ redevelopment project.

The City Council of Barcelona is or, rather, was the landowner of a large part of the industrial land in Poblenou. It was, because the City Council has sold most of it to property developers, building companies and large corporations, most of which are well known as the main builders and sponsors of Forum 2004.

La Caixa, through Servihabitat, owns 50,000 square meters; Endesa, through the AUNA group, owns 12,764; Agbar owns 5,000; Indra too owns a significant lot.

The relationship, which no one would dare call not–for–profit, between these corporations and Forum 2004 has begun to yield huge profits. Consorci de la Zona Franca, for instance, has announced a 434 per cent profit during the last 8 years. By the way, Consorcio Zona Franca is building the Forum 2004 offices and has recently bought the Sant Andreu barracks, from which squatters have just been evicted. In Poblenou alone, more than 1,200 families have been or are to be evicted from their homes, and more than 1,000 small shops will have to close. On the other hand, the Diagonal Mar area, a formerly public space which has been turned into private hands and is now strictly policed by private armed guards, is thriving.

To put it briefly: instead of using this publicly owned land (at no cost at all) to improve the living conditions of neighbours (by building schools, parks, social housing or hospitals), the City Council sells it to multinational corporations.

This urban redevelopment devastates neighbourhoods and expels their inhabitants, paying them small compensations, which are calculated on the basis of property register values and not of market values. This means that former neighbours have to buy new homes at a much higher price and have no choice but to get into debt. It’s more and more usual to see how urban landscape is turned into an unliveable and unaffordable theme park. “Barcelona, la botiga més gran del món” [the largest shop in the world].

There’s no need to say that these redevelopment projects can only be carried out by means of repressive policies (mobbing, menacing and cheating neighbours). No one will easily accept to be deprived of the right to have a home, not even under the threat of being criminalised or of having to live in precariousness. That may explain that neighbours are organising against 22@ and Forum 2004, and that squatting has become widespread in this area.


El negocio de la cultura
Forum 2004 SA is nothing but the most cynical and absurd exaggeration of what we nowadays know as a Cultural Institution. In the diagram, you’ll find just some of the institutions taking part in Forum. You can see there is a pattern in the way many of these act: they are public institutions strongly sponsored (and, thus, controlled) by multinational corporations, and support the economic and ideological interests of those corporations. As the director of the City Council Culture Institute put it, “these corporations’ commitment to culture gives them prestige, good reputation… and profits”.

Profits shape the (single-minded) thought and the cultural taste (the same for everybody) —they shape culture. Multiculturalism, as you will find it in Forum 2004, is nothing but a fake of diversity in which everybody has a place as long as they stick to the stereotype: Chinese must play Chinese, Africans must play African, the “alternative” must play “alternative”. By the way, the Chinese that will act every day during the Forum were supposed to be French —but they were too expensive.

The rainbow may have many colours, but multicultural culture has only one: the colour of money.


WARNING: All these institutions offer junk jobs through interim agencies such as Ciut’art.


La otra cara del Fòrum de les Cultures, S.A.

La otra cara del Fòrum de les Cultures, S.A. (.PDF)

Ba®celona Marca Registrada Un model per desarmar

Ba®celona Marca Registrada
Un model per desarmar (.PDF)


Acción de desmantelamiento de la sede INDRA, patrocinador del Fórum

Comunicado de la primera acción de denuncia del Fórum que tuvo lugar la tarde del 29 de abril de 2004 en Barcelona. Fue en la sede de Indra y participaron un centenar de personas, de los cuales una cuarentena se vistieron de inspectores de armas de destrucción masiva que inspeccionaron la sede, empaquetaron el material de las oficinas en grandes cajas donde ponía “armas de destrucción masiva”, i las apilaron en el hall de las oficinas.


Cuarenta inspectores de la Asamblea Permanente contra la Guerra han accedido hoy a la sede de Indra para proceder al desmantelamiento de sus instalaciones y a intervenir sus armas de destrucción masiva. Indra, uno de los principales patrocinadores del Fórum 2004, es la tercera empresa militar española por facturación, y la primera de electrónica militar. La Asamblea Permanente contra la Guerra se propone señalizar a los principales actores de la Guerra Global, investigar y hacer pública su exacta implicación en la economía de guerra y desmantelar completamente sus centros de operaciones.

Los datos obtenidos de la investigación de Indra son especialmente escabrosos. Indra está presente en los principales programas de armamento del ejército español (tanques Leopard, cazabombarderos Eurofighter 2000, fragatas F-100, submarinos S80, Buque de Proyección Estratégica, helicopteros Tigre y blindados Pizarro). Indra es por tanto uno de los principales agentes a la hora de presionar al alza el presupuesto militar. Para el 2004, el presupuesto militar español alcanza los 14.600 millones de euros (casi dos billones y medio de pesetas), frente a los 6.941 millones de euros que, en total, se gastarán en sanidad, educación, cultura, vivienda y urbanismo.

Por otro lado, Indra es el principal suministrador no estadounidense de la US Navy (armada norteamericana), el principal actor en la invasión de Irak. Indra se dedica a proporcionar simuladores de vuelo y equipos de mantenimiento automático para los aviones de combate F-18 y Harrier, equipo imprescindible para el funcionamiento de estos aparatos, que son los protagonistas del bombardeo de Irak. Además, desarrolla junto con Lockeed Martin (la principal empresa militar del mundo) el sistema de combate naval Aegis, que equipa a las fragatas norteamericanas.

Indra, finalmente, colabora íntimamente con el Fórum2004. Esta empresa es la patrocinadora de Consultoria, Serveis i Solucions en Tecnologies de la Informació del evento y será la encargada de implantar sistemas y servicios tecnológicos que den cobertura a sus actividades. El Fórum 2004 se encuentra por lo tanto directamente implicado en la política de guerra. En primer lugar, el Fórum es la fiesta de la sostenibilidad, entendida como medio para sostener la precariedad generalizada. En segundo lugar, es la fiesta de la diversidad cultural. El concepto de cultura se plantea como sustituto directo del de raza. De este modo se explica la guerra como un conflicto entre culturas (adaptación socialdemócrata del famoso “choque de civilizaciones”) y no como un entramado global de control económico y político. Finalmente, el Fórum es la fiesta de la paz, paz de los vencedores impuesta por las armas.

La Asamblea Permanente contra la Guerra quiere mostrar con esta acción que la Guerra no es una forma extrema de resolución de conflictos que se dan de forma inexplicable. La guerra es un orden de gestión y control global promocionado por un complejo militar-industrial que tiene actores concretos.

Contra la Guerra Global Permanente
Asamblea Permanente contra la Guerra


Further information: