The international peasant movement La Via Campesina is entering its fourth decade of collective struggle for food sovereignty, popular agrarian reform and dignity.
Every April 17th, International Day of Peasant Struggles is commemorated in remembrance of the 1996 Eldorado do Carajás massacre and to draw attention to the continued criminalization, oppression and repression of peasants, workers, and indigenous peoples worldwide.
This year also marks a special milestone for the movement as it enters its fourth decade. Peasant and indigenous peoples’ organizations sowed the first seeds of the international movement at a gathering in Managua in 1992. La Via Campesina was then formally born in 1993 at the first international conference in Mons, Belgium.
Made up of 200 million small farmers, peasants, farm workers and indigenous peoples, from 81 countries, it has popularized the idea of food sovereignty as the right of peoples to control and defend their own food systems using healthy, agroecological methods. After years battling against free trade agreements and the World Bank in the streets of Seattle, Cancun, and Seoul, La Via Campesina made an incursion into institutional politics, helping to draft and carry the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants through 18 years of negotiations until it was passed by the UN General Assembly in December 2018. This declaration protects the right of rural people to access land, water, seeds and other resources in order to produce their own food and that of their societies.
Now more than ever, La Via Campesina says it’s imperative to adopt food sovereignty and popular agrarian reform as a solution to hunger, rising global food prices and poverty as the world food crisis deepens and social injustices worsen amid war, conflict, climate change, covid and financial speculation.
It highlights the absolute failure of the transnational capital and agribusiness system enabled by free trade agreements and industrialized monoculture soaked in toxic agro-inputs. An industrial system displaces peasants and degrades the environment and productive resources while supplying our countries with expensive, imported and unhealthy foods. Rising global food prices and costs of farm inputs push peasant communities everywhere deeper into hunger, poverty and debt.
The principle of food sovereignty proposed by La Via Campesina is rooted in the peasant and family farm sector through supportive public policies, guaranteed prices, credits, and other support forms—including direct marketing between producers and consumers and genuine agrarian reform.La Via Campesina
La Via Campesina International continues to condemn the Israeli crimes against Palestinians that violate international and humanitarian law and has called on international organizations and movements to join the BDS movement and to pressure political leaders to end the war on Gaza and to act to protect Palestinian farmers and fishermen.
The 17th serves as a date to keep the memory alive of the campesinos and militants lost to repression and criminalization and to renew the fight for transformation towards a society based on justice, dignity, peace and people’s sovereignty.
¡Globalicemos la Lucha!
¡Globalicemos la Esperanza!
Check out a recent video on the fight against the corporate takeover of the UN Food Summit, produced by La Via Campesina North America and Camila Escalante:
By Kawsachun News with information from La Via Campesina