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International Day of Peasant Struggles: Build Solidarity! Enough with the genocide, evictions and violence!

By staff - La Via Campesina, April 17, 2024

17 April 2024 – Today is the International Day of Peasant Struggles. A moment when we, La Via Campesina, commemorate the 28th anniversary of the El Dorado de Carajás Massacre in Brazil and denounce the impunity with which peasant and indigenous people are harassed, attacked and criminalized around the world. Every year, our movement dedicates this day to mobilize in support of the ongoing struggles of peasants, rural communities, indigenous groups, pastoralists, fisherfolk, migrants, and rural workers.

As a global peasant movement, we persistently denounce and resist various forms of oppression—genocides, wars, hunger, evictions, persecution, criminalization, and systemic violence—within a geopolitical landscape dominated by the advancing forces of imperialism, neocolonialism, and exploitative capitalism. Our efforts, that also found a full consensus at the recetly concluded 8th International Conference, encompass a diverse set of initiatives, including the UN Working Group to monitor the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, the efforts to broaden the global movement for Food Sovereignty by actively contributing towards the Nyéléni Global Forum for Food Sovereignty in 2025, a host of global solidarity campaigns, and our sustained advocacy for an alternative trade framework based on Food Sovereignty. These actions exemplify La Via Campesina’s response to the crisis-ridden context we confront.

On this International Day of Peasant Struggles, our member organizations worldwide are engaged in a myriad of activities. These include demonstrations of denunciation and solidarity, seed exchanges, planting of traditional crops, sale of agroecological products, conferences with other social movements, and various other actions. These efforts nourish global processes and propel collective demands for Food Sovereignty and social justice. Below is a succinct overview of the most notable struggles at the global level.

The Struggle of Landless Peasants

At the FAO panel on Family Farms, La Via Campesina fiercely defends peasant farms

By Morgan Ody - La Via Campesina, January 24, 2024

In a passionate speech delivered at the Food and Agricultural Organization on January 23, 2024, Morgan Ody, the General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, put forth a fierce defense of the peasant way of life and the urgent necessity to defend peasant farming in the face of global crises.

CSIPM supports the Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality, cautions about omissions

Haiti: Final declaration of the 50th congress of the Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP)

By Mouvman Peyizan Papay - La Via Campesina, August 13, 2023

Final declaration of the 50th congress of the Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP), published by the MPP on its website:

From August 5th to August 10th, 2023, 1,152 national and international delegates and guests from 36 organizations gathered at Sant Lakay in Papaye to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the MPP. Before proceeding, on behalf of the MPP, we warmly greet the international delegation from 7 foreign countries who braved dangers to be present with us. Many of them crossed oceans to reach Papaye. Let’s warmly applaud the international delegation. Unfortunately, some organizations couldn’t attend.

Congratulations to all allied organizations and friends of the MPP from the 10 geographical departments who overcame many challenges to celebrate this 50th anniversary with the MPP. Bravo to all activists.

Applause for all guests, MPP friends, male and female MPP activists, as well as the people of Hinche who came to march today and say no to the oppression imposed on the people and the masses. Bravo to us!

Yes, the MPP is 50 years old. We were born in 1973 under the dictatorship of Duvalier. This means that the MPP grew up in arid terrain, facing adverse winds and a difficult burden. We endured all kinds of dangers. We suffered all sorts of persecutions, but we always resisted. Many of our members were injured, many died. The criminal State plundered and stole from us. They tried to crush us, scare us, make us disappear, but we are stronger because we are like bamboo, we bend but don’t break.

Our ancestors, Makandal, Boukman, Dessalines, Charlemagne Peralte, not to mention our fallen activists, insurgent peasants like Jean Rabèl, and many others who fought for the people’s cause, like Jean Mary Vinsan, left us a legacy of resistance. We need all that strength and determination to rebuild the Red Mountain congress and refound Haiti.

"EU migration policy causes deaths instead of saving lives" La Via Campesina in Nador, Morocco

By staff - La Via Campesina, July 21, 2023

La Via Campesina has launched a powerful message of denunciation of the murder of thousands of people in the Mediterranean.

During the V Maghreb Social Forum on Migration (Nador, June 20-23), it warned of the serious violation of human rights promoted by the European Union through its migration policy, which follows the guidelines of the Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration, signed by several states five years ago in Marrakech.

Life inside an MST landless workers’ settlement in Brazil

La Via Campesina delivers a fiery speech inside the European Parliament, calls out Free Trade Agreements, Colonialism and Unilateral Sanctions

“When UNDROP was adopted in 2018, Canada abstained but the country among the first to use it in a case on migrant workers’ rights”

By Jessie MacInnis - La Via Campesina, July 11, 2023

When the UNDROP was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, Canada abstained. Despite that, Canada is one of the first places where UNDROP has been explicitly cited by a provincial court in a case related to migrant workers’ rights. Jessie MacInnis explains for us the dynamics at play in Canada on Peasants’ Rights and the importance of case law.

First, to give us some context, could you describe us the general landscape of agriculture in Canada?

Agricultural policies have increasingly tied agriculture to a corporate system in Canada. Recent examples relate to the reduction of government oversight of seeds and gene-edited plants. The Canadian government has put its faith in agribusiness and biotech corporations instead of science and public interest. It’s very scary for farmers, especially for organic farmers, such as myself, who may suffer financial, health, and ecological implications from increasing corporate capture of seeds and the gutting of publicly-funded seed research and development.

COVID-19 has shown the cracks and deep rooted inequities that keep land inaccessible, rural communities gutted of resources, and farmers indebted and dependent on the companies selling inputs and chemicals. It also showed the dependence on a constant supply of migrant workers who suffer from human rights abuses. Yet it has been a time of enormous profit increases for corporations in the sector. On top of that we have the climate crisis and the income crisis, with income that have been stagnant for years and many farmers relying on off-farm work to make ends meet. Agriculture policies are beginning to wake up to the realities of the climate crisis, with more funding available for on-farm climate adaptation, but the income crisis is still prevalent for small-scale and family farms, which are the backbone of the food system.

Ƒinally, If we talk about agriculture in Canada, we have to acknowledge that it is built on settler colonization and stolen land. The National Farmers Union (NFU) is engaging in conversations between farmers and Indigenous Peoples, conversations about land equity, land back, and food sovereignty, but it’s just the beginning. Our agriculture is built on colonial violence that still hasn’t been reconciled. Farmers have a critical role to play in both acknowledging our relationship to the land and finding pathways forward towards living in right relations with Indigenous Peoples.

In this agricultural landscape we have a plurality of perspectives with regards to how agriculture policies should be developed, and whose goals it seeks to achieve. Some of the bigger agriculture organizations definitively may have historically had more sway with policymakers, but the NFU and other food sovereignty activists are gaining ground, especially at local and regional levels.

In 2020, Ontario Superior Court of Justice released a decision based on UNDROP in defense of a group of migrant farm workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you tell us more on this decision?

This case shows the legal potential of the UNDROP, I think legal action is one pathway for countries who have not approved the Declaration at the United Nations to incorporate its articles and set legal precedents.

In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic the Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights used Article 23 of UNDROP in a provincial court in defense of a group of migrant workers facing dangerous, overcrowded living conditions.

To give some context, Canadian farms employ nearly half a million agricultural workers through a federal program. This program has been riddled with accusations of human rights violations over the years: poor living conditions, low wages and no pathways to permanent residency. At the same time, Canada is dependent on their labour to ensure the food supply.

In March 2020, just after the state of emergency was announced, the federal government mandated a 14-days isolation period for all temporary foreign workers entering Canada, at the same time ensuring workers subjected to isolation in groups would have at least 2 meters per person at all time and limiting the numbers of workers living together in a lodging.

When this policy was mandated, a major industrial farm in Ontario (central Canada) that employs migrant workers, submitted two inadequate self-isolation plans before requesting a hearing regarding the public health order limiting the numbers of farm workers in one lodging. At the hearing the farm argued that the requirement of three farm workers per lodging was arbitrary and failed to recognize the significance of migrant farm workers to Canada food supply. They argued they had not been able to bring in as many migrants as they would normally, and this jeopardized their food production.

The Superior Court of Justice of Ontario responded by saying that: “decreasing health inequities as required under the guidelines requires that the number of workers that are allowed to isolate together is such that the risk posed to their health is comparable to the rest of the population when they’re quarantined. Allowing larger numbers to isolate together exposes migrants farm workers to a level of risk not tolerated for others in the community, thereby increasing vulnerability of an already vulnerable group.

In reaching this outcome, the Court cited the UNDROP for the first time in Canada. The way they cited it is important: “…furthermore the UNDROP is part of the body of HR laws and norms to which Canadian adjudicators may look in interpreting statutory or common-law obligations and in reviewing administrative decisions.”. They cited article 23.1, which states: “Peasants and other people working in rural areas have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”.

So the context and the outcome of the case is demonstrative of the applicability of the Declaration in the Canadian context. Promoting this case is something we need to keep doing. It’s strategic to expand the network of human rights lawyers that are aware of UNDROP and to give them this as an example.

La Via Campesina and ECVC express their dismay at the authoritarian drift in France

By staff - La Via Campesina, June 28, 2023

Bagnolet | 28 June 2023: Instead of finding real answers to the environmental, social and democratic crises, the French government is choosing to imprison activists and ban movements critical of the extractivist agro-industrial model.

On 21 June, the French government announced the dissolution of the movement Les Soulèvements de la Terre, which campaigns against land and water grabbing and the destruction of ecosystems. That same week, dozens of activists were arrested by the anti-terrorist police, on the pretext that they had taken part in demonstrations against mega-basins, extractivist industries or agro-industry and its pollution. On June 28th, two peasant trade unionists from the Confédération Paysanne, Nicolas Girod and Benoît Jaunet, along with Julien LeGuet, spokesperson for the collective Bassines non merci, were arrested by the police for their involvement in organizing these collective gatherings as representatives of their respective organizations. They were released later in the day but received court summonses for the month of September. Such acts of repression against legitimate protests are unacceptable and unjust, creating a negative precedent and seeking to intimidate all defenders of fundamental rights. In this context it seems that the FNSEA, a French farmers’ union, has also been calling for the dissolution of La Confédération Paysanne.

We, La Via Campesina and European Coordination Via Campesina, stand together with our member organisation in France, La Confédération Paysanne. We firmly reject these threats and will act decisively in Europe and around the world to ensure that La Confédération Paysanne and its members can continue to defend peasant agriculture and its workers.

We express our support for Les Soulèvements de la Terre (the Uprisings of the Earth ). These tens of thousands of young people mobilising to ensure land and water are shared fairly, which is an expression of the acute sense of responsibility that young people have in the face of social inequalities and the destruction of ecosystems.

We call on the French Government to cease its violations of human rights, and in particular of the rights recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other Rural Workers (UNDROP), such as freedom of thought, opinion and expression, freedom of association and the right to participation.

We call on our member organisations and allied organisations to mobilise in support of the
Confédération Paysanne and social movements in France, in particular by sending letters to French embassies and the French government and by organising rallies in front of French embassies.


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