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Brazil: MST asks for more Land Reform and for a stop in the criminalization of the Movement

By Staff - La Via Campesina, November 7, 2016

On Friday, November 4th, MST was on the criminalization spotlight. A violent action by the police, codename “Castra”, spanned three States, Paraná, São Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul. The main target of the operation was to arrest and criminalize leaders from two camps held by militants in Central Paraná State. The camps are named “Dom Tomás Balduíno” and “Herdeiros da Luta pela Terra” (Land Struggle Heirs).

On a note, MST denounces a “surge in the repression of the struggle for land, dominated by the interests of agribussines allied to the violence of a State of Exception”.

“We remind the public that we have always acted in an organized and peaceful manner for the advancement of Land Reform. We reclaim the land for it’s social function and that it be destined to settling the 10.000 families that are currently camped in Paraná State.”

In São Paulo, 10 vehicles from the Civil Police broke into the National School Florestan Fernandes (ENFF), in the town of Guararema. Two militants were arrested.

According to the reports, police officers arrived at around 9:25 am, closed the school gate and jumped over the reception window,  taking shots aiming at sky. The shards of collected bullets prove that none of them were rubber, but lethal.

In Mato Grosso do Sul, three police vehicles with Paraná plates broke into CEPEGE, “Geral Garcia” Research Center and Professional School, in Sidrolândia. The police operation was searching for MST militants from Paraná that allegedly were there. The police remained there until approximately 9AM, when they left with no arrests. During the operation, police prohibited the use of mobile phones.

Militants that were in CEPEGE at the moment were performing cleaning and maintenance tasks.

Here is the full note:

More Land Reform and a stop to MST criminalization

Once more the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement is a victim of criminalization constructed by the repressive apparatus of the State of Paraná. The violent operation, codename “Castra”, took place this Friday, November 4th 2016, in Paraná - municipalities of Quedas do Iguaçu, Francisco Beltrão and Laranjeiras do Sul; and also in the States of São Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul.

The aim of the operation is to capture and criminalize leaders from 'Dom Tomás Balduíno' and 'Herdeiros da Luta pela Terra' encampments, located in the central region of Paraná state. Until now 6 leaders were arrested and they are still looking for other workers, under several accusations, including criminal organization.

Since May 2014, approximately 3,000 encamped families are occupying areas that were before occuppied by Araupel Company. Those areas were illegally occupied by the company and because of that the Federal Court of Public Land declared that they belong to the Union, so they must be devoted for Agrarian Reform.

Araupel Company became a powerful economical and political empire by illegally occupying public land and constantly using violence against rural workers and peasants that occupy land, many times acting in collusion with the civilian and military police apparatus, they have even fund political campaigns of public authorities, like the one of the Chief of Staff of the Beto Richa's government, Valdir Rossoni.

We highlight that this action is part of a continuous process of persecution and violence that MST has been facing in several states and in Parana. On April 7th, 2016, in the land illegally occupied by Araupel Company the families organized in the Dom Tomas Balduíno encampment were victims of an ambush made by the Military Police and security personnel hired by the company. In the attack, were there more than 120 gunshots, Vilmar Bordim and Leomar Orback were executed, there were also countless people bullet wounded. In the same large state in 1997, gunmen hired by Araupel killed in another ambush two Landless Movement workers. Both cases remain unpunished.

We denounce the escalation on violence and repression against the struggle for land, where agribusiness interests associated with the violence of the State of Exception predominate.

We remember that we always act in an organized and pacific way so the Agrarian Reform advances. We demand that the land fulfills its social function and that it is destined for the settlement of the 10,000 families encamped in Paraná.

We keep fighting for our rights and we join those who fight for education, health, housing, more rights and more democracy.

Struggle and build Popular Agrarian Reform.

Curitiba, November 4th, 2016.

Agroecology, a way of life, struggle, and resistance against capitalism!

By staff - La Via Campesina, October 17, 2011

Synthesis

Agroecology: a way of life, struggle and resistance against capitalism. Agroecology is the basis for peasant agriculture and food sovereignty. Agroecology continues to be open to debate and dispute; from the perspective of our movements, it is the guarantee, care and protection of our Mother Earth. For that reason, it is transversal in all the spaces of the land, subsoil, territory, water and space.

The cosmovision and epistemology of our peoples tell us that agroecological practices are the center of our ancestors’ production, since they are the coexistence of all living beings. The land does not belong to us; we belong to the land. We are balance and equity, solidarity, integrity, diversity, territorial defense, the ‘buen vivir’, the dialogue between ways of knowing, expressed through the peasant-to-peasant method.

We do not want sustainable development, we want sustainable life. Agroecology gives our identity back to us. Women played a historic role in the evolution of peasant and indigenous agriculture.

Our processes of agroecological training make use of the Latin American Agroecological Institutes (IALA) training centers, through the learning routes that CLOC-LVC has built in the continent. Agroecology is a multidimensional space of social processes, sharing, culture, and art that we can only find in our territories.
All support processes for agroecology should be led by organizations of peasant families, indigenous peoples, farm workers and family farmers, including men and women, with the greatest possible participation of young people.

Agroecology and peasant seeds are mutually dependent, because agroecology is incompatible with genetic engineering, there can be no agroecology with agrochemicals or with the transnational agribusiness corporations.

The theories of Marx and Engels (including the division between the countryside and the city) and indigenous cosmovisions are similar and complementary in agroecological thought and in the unity between culture and the dialogue of ways of knowing. Our agroecological proposal regenerates agroecosystems, including plant, animal and soil biodiversity, as well as indigenous cultures with their diverse ways of producing in harmony with Mother Earth.

The solution to the climate crisis is in our peasant struggle for Food and Energy Sovereignty!

By staff - La Via Campesina, October 19, 2017

La Via Campesina – Call to Action

The next United Nations conference on climate change will take place from the 6th to 17th of November in Bonn, Germany 2017 – with Mother Earth heating up dramatically and humanity plagued by unprecedented adverse weather and rising sea levels. The capitalist system, fuelled by the profit greed, is not capable of addressing the current climate crisis. Even the COP21 Paris Agreement and its inadequate proposals to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees celsius is in limbo, with the recent pull out by U.S. President Donald Trump.

This year we witnessed the increased impacts of climate change both in scale and intensity: hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Maria, etc.), floods (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, etc.), storms, droughts, heat waves and more. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced, thousands killed, and total disappearance of some island territories. In many cases, peoples have lost all the resources needed for living. The most affected: peasants, poor people, rural workers, the indigenous, the fisherfolk.

We know the cause of this climate crisis: the global industrial food and energy systems responsible for over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions through intensive use of agrochemicals, toxins, fossil energy, freight land grabbing and forest degradation through plantations, mining, logging etc. Perpetrators of the crisis, using their “monetary muscle”, now lobby and push for false solutions: “climate-smart” agriculture, GMOs, REDD and REDD+, “blue carbon”, and all other green economy schemes that seek the financialization of nature and its services. Multinationals pollute the climate negotiations and make them the place of economic and financial power over peoples, to the detriment of our rights.

As the COP23 draws nearer, we reaffirm the importance of struggling for public policies that promote and support agroecology, local community-controlled energy systems and collective action for a just transition away from fossil fuels and against the false energy solutions that encourage corporate capture of our natural resources. Our peasant agroecology feeds the soil with organic matter, conserves and recovers biodiversity, using the knowledge of our peoples and our Mother Earth to feed us. We reject any attempt by agribusiness to co-opt agroecology and commit ourselves to defending and promoting our peasant agroecology!

For Vía Campesina, our lands, our knowledge, our seeds, our rights are not negotiable! We call for the strengthening of all mobilizations against this system that engenders the current and future climate crimes. We must fight against all free trade agreements and disastrous oil, gas and mining projects as well as all exclusionary mega projects (dams, highways, airports, plantations, etc). We must urgently transform the financial, social and ecological production systems, as well as the sharing of labor and wealth, the preservation of common goods such as water, land, flora and fauna.

We call upon our allies, friends and social movements to mobilize together with the civil society outside the UN climate talks in Bonn, spreading our voice and our true solutions.

Let us mobilize at COP23 for the convergence of struggles!

For Peasant Agroecology and Food Sovereignty!

Dakota Access Pipeline: Statement by Border Agricultural Workers

By Border Agricultural Workers - La Via Campesina, September 7, 2016

STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE AND THEIR STRUGGLE TO PROTECT THEIR WATER, THEIR NATURAL RESOURCES AND THEIR TERRITORIES

ON BEHALF of the Border Agricultural Workers of the US-México region, we express our solidarity with your struggle to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline to protect your sacred natural resources and your territories. Two of our leaders, Rosemary Martínez and Joseph Martínez will be with you to not only participate in your historic struggle but also to learn how to best support your movement.

AS MIGRANT agricultural workers, we know fist hand the destruction caused by greediness and hunger for more and more profits by corporate capital, to our Mother Earth and all the sacred elements of life.

Commercial and industrial agricultural not only exploit us in the fields, buy also inflict a severe damage to nature. For this reason,we identify with your just cause.

OUR MESSAGE to the Government is clear: Instead of being accomplices of the Dakota Access Pipeline that is a threat to the Sacred Land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Federal Government should stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and ensure that the sovereignty of the Sioux is respected.

WE ALSO make a call to all the social movements and the people of good will to join a firm and resolute solidarity with your struggle to protect the water, the natural resources and your Sacred Land.

WHEN OUR two leaders return to El Paso, they will inform us of your movement and then we will be ready to plan further and more effective actions in solidarity with your inspiring struggle.

Resisting the Resolution: Call to action in support of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and against the Dakota Access Pipeline

By staff - La Via Campesina, February 10, 2017

The epicenter of the struggle to defend our Mother Earth, Water and Nature is currently Standing Rock.

The North American Region of La Via Campesina sends its most sincere solidarity to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the water defenders in their heroic struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and in defense of Mother Nature and their sacred land. 

We demand that the federal government respect the territorial sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  

Finally, we call upon all of our members and allies of the North American Region of La Via Campesina to mobilize, firmly and widely, to stop the repression and violence by the police and the state against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who are protecting their water for all of us, as well as their ancestral land, and their sovereignty.

On ‘Food Sovereignty Day’ La Via Campesina launches publication that calls for a massive change in the current agro-food systems

By staff - La Via Campesina, October 16, 2017

Harare, 16th October 2017: Today, on the International Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty and against Transnational corporations, La Via Campesina officially launches its new publication “Struggles of La Vía Campesina for Agrarian Reform and the Defense of life, Land and Territories” that argues for a massive change in the current agro-food system, if we have to overcome the food, climate, poverty, financial, economic and democratic crises facing the planet and its people.

With the aim of strengthening the convergence of struggles, we will demonstrate in this publication that this change must be based on an integral and popular agrarian reform within the framework of Food Sovereignty.

The concepts, strategies and struggles have undergone many changes within La Via Campesina, partly as a result of the current context, but also as a result of collective processes at the grassroots level in territories that are rich in historical, cultural, political and economic diversity. In this respect, it is evident that integral and popular agrarian reform is understood to be a process for the building of Food Sovereignty and dignity for the people.

Working on the basis of this conceptual framework, in which agrarian reform is presented as a defense and a recovery of land for Food Sovereignty, and as a people’s process, this publication will be structured as follows:

Firstly, chapters 2 and 3 present La Via Campesina’s analysis of the global context we are currently facing and the form in which capital is appropriating territories. What developments have led to this unprecedented level of land grabbing, land concentration and eviction of people from their territories? To which actors do we refer when we speak of “capital”? What is the political framework that favours these processes on a global level? What are the consequences for the food and agricultural system? And how is that reflected in our territories?

La Via Campesina’s concept of integral and popular agrarian reform, developed in this context, will be presented in Chapter 4. How has the concept been modified from a vision of land distribution to a territorial vision? What were the most important milestones? Beginning with the question “How, in today’s world, can we achieve a change in the paradigm towards Food Sovereignty and agrarian reform?” we will present, in chapter 5, the strategies of La Via Campesina, which include direct actions and bottom up praxis, alternative communications and research, and political intervention on a national and international level.

While the analysis focuses more on global processes, the interviews held with leaders of La Via Campesina’s member organisations from different continents and regions show the multidimensional mechanisms which specifically affect territories. They also reflect the way in which the diversity of cosmovisions in territories which are so historically, culturally, politically and economically diverse (which can also be seen in their terminology) has enriched and extended La Via Campesina’s construction of visions.

Because the aim of the publication is to summarise these aspects as a whole from the perspective of La Via Campesina’s organisations, it is not possible to enter into each issue in depth. Therefore, at the end of each chapter we provide suggestions for further reading, which will be a useful starting point for acquiring more in depth knowledge of the issues discussed here.

Why has the Dakota Access Pipeline become a divisive issue for U.S. Labour?

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, October 7, 2016

Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota are continuing, according to Democracy Now on October 7.  On October 5, three U.S. federal judges heard arguments  over whether to stop the construction, but they are not expected to make a ruling for three or four months.  Meanwhile, Jeremy Brecher of the Labor Network for Sustainability released a new post , Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor,  which asks “Why has this become a divisive issue within labor, and can it have a silver lining for a troubled labor movement?”  The article discusses the AFL-CIO’s  statement  in support of the pipeline, and points to the growing influence of the North America’s Building Trades Unions’ within the AFL-CIO through their campaign of “stealth disaffiliation”.  It also cites an “ unprecedented decision” by the Labor Coalition for Community Action,  an official constituency group of the AFL-CIO , to issue their own statement in support of the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in direct opposition to the main AFL-CIO position. The Climate Justice Alliance, an environmental justice group of 40 organizations, has also written to the AFL-CIO in an attempt to begin discussions.  Brecher’s article concludes that the allies and activist members of the AFL-CIO are exerting increasing pressure, and asks “Isn’t it time?” for a dialogue which will shift direction and build a new fossil-free infrastructure which  will also create jobs in the U.S.    For unions interested in supporting the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, a sample resolution for local unions is available from the Climate Workers website.

Progress at COP23 as Canada’s Minister pledges to include the CLC in a new Just Transition Task Force

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, November 21, 2017

An article in the Energy Mix reflects a widely-stated assessment of the recently concluded Conference of the Parties in Bonn: “COP23 Ends with solid progress on Paris Rules, Process to Push for Faster Climate Action” :  “It was an incremental, largely administrative conclusion for a conference that was never expected to deliver transformative results, but was still an essential step on the road to a more decisive “moment” at next year’s conference in Katowice, Poland.”  A concise summary of outcomes  was compiled by  the  International Institute for Environment and Development, including a link to the main outcome document of the COP23 meetings – the Fiji Momentum for Implementation .  The UNFCCC provides a comprehensive list of initiatives and documents in its closing press release on November 17. And from the only Canadian press outlet which attended COP23 in person, the National Observer: “Trump didn’t blow up the climate summit: what did happend in Bonn?” .

What was the union assessment of COP23? The International Trade Union Confederation expressed concern for the slow progress in Bonn, but stated: “The support for Just Transition policies is now visible and robust among all climate stakeholders: from environmental groups to businesses, from regional governments to national ones. The importance of a social pact as a driver to low-carbon economics means we can grow ambition faster, in line with what science tells us. ”  The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) also expressed disappointment, reiterating the demands in its October  ETUC Resolution and views on COP 23  , and calling for a “Katowice plan of action for Just Transition”  in advance of the COP24 meetings next year in Katowice, Poland.

The biggest winner on Just Transition was the Canadian Labour Congress, who pressed the Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change outside of formal negotiations at Bonn and received her pledge for federal support for the newly-announced Just Transition Plan for Alberta’s Coal Workers –  including flexibility on federal  Employment Insurance benefits,  and a pledge that  Western Economic Diversification Canada will  support coal communities.   Importantly, “Minister McKenna also announced her government’s intention to work directly with the Canadian Labour Congress to launch a task force that will develop a national framework on Just Transition for workers affected by the coal phase-out. The work of this task force is slated to begin early in the new year”, according to the CLC press release “  Unions applaud Canada’s commitment to a just transition for coal workers” .  The background story to this under-reported breakthrough  is in the National Observer coverage of the Canada-UK Powering Past Coal initiative, on November 15 and November 16.  Unifor’s take on the Task Force is here .

Draft Resolution - Stop Line 3

Draft Resolution - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, December 24, 2018

The following resolution is a draft only and has not yet been adopted by any IWW branch or the union as a whole. We will update this post if and when that changes. We are posting it here as a recommended resolution.

Whereas: The existing Line 3 is an Enbridge pipeline that transports crude oil from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin spanning northern Minnesota and crossing the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations and the 1855, 1854, and 1842 treaty areas;

Whereas: Since Enbridge Line 3’s construction in 1961 it has experienced severe corrosion that has led to countless spills and ruptures;

Whereas: Instead of decommissioning Line 3 and paying for its removal and the rehabilitation of the lands it has despoiled, Enbridge is pushing to expand and replace it (they call it a "replacement" but it is larger, with a higher volume and in a new corridor);

Whereas: At $7.5 billion, the proposed new Line 3 would be the “largest project in Enbridge’s history” and one of the largest crude oil pipelines in the world, carrying up to 915,000 barrels per day of one of the dirtiest fuels on earth, tar sands crude;

Whereas: Line 3 is poised to be a linchpin in tar-sands infrastructure, committed for decades to advancing a dying industry that is a major source of greenhouse gases, poses a direct threat to the lives and livelihoods of indigenous communities, and creates a perpetual risk to large sources of clean water including Lake Superior (also a large part of Minnesota’s tourist economy and a potent symbol to the region’s people);

Whereas: Economically, the tar-sands are doomed; and environmentally, they are a disaster;

Whereas: In approving Line 3, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission failed to adhere to even its modest mandate “to balance the private and public interest,” instead prioritizing the short-term profits of foreign corporations and their phony claims of “good jobs” over the will of Native communities, the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans (hundreds of thousands of whom have spoken out in opposition), and the very future of the planet without which there can be no “public”;

Whereas: In issuing a Certificate of Need for Line 3, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission also ignored the findings of the reviewing administrative law judge who said there is no need for a new pipeline on Enbridge’s preferred route;

Whereas: Line 3 will provide nowhere near the number of permanent union jobs the the project’s promoters promise they will (Enbridge itself estimates the number at around 25; its marketing and lobbying campaigns are designed to obscure this fact) and the Minnesota Department of Commerce has indicated that more local and long term jobs would actually be created by decommissioning the existing pipeline;

Whereas: More jobs could instead be created by investing in the infrastructure our communities actually need, such as clean water, affordable and livable housing, and widespread public transportation;

Whereas: Far more permanent union jobs can be created at comparable wages by repairing other aging and far more vital pipeline infrastructure, such as water mains in Flint, Michigan and elsewhere, or repairing leaks in existing oil and gas pipelines which, if unfixed, release harmful amounts of methane--a known greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming at a rate multiples greater than carbon dioxide;

Whereas: Far more jobs currently exist in the growing renewable energy sector than in the declining fossil fuel sector;

Whereas: Though these renewable energy jobs are currently typically nonunion, unions, if so determined, could easily develop a successful organizing program using solidarity unionism that could revitalize the struggling labor movement;

Whereas: Enbridge Line 3 will not deliver the promised "energy security" or "energy independence" promised by its promoters (many building trades and AFL-CIO union officials among them);

Whereas: Oil pipelines such as the proposed Line 3 “replacement” tend to leak and create unnecessary risks to the surrounding environment, both through methane gas leaks as well as crude oil spills--which in the case of heavy tar sands oil are literally impossible to clean up as the toxic substance sinks deep into the ground and into aquifers that supply millions of people with water;

Whereas: Such pipelines endanger the communities along their routes, including many indigenous communities whose tribal sovereignty has been ignored and violated during permitting processes by agencies subject to regulatory capture by the capitalist interests that promote them;

Whereas: Continued new construction of such pipelines will contribute massively to the acceleration of already dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn are contributing to already dangerous levels of climate change and could lead to a dead planet with no jobs of any kind;

Be it Resolved that: the IWW declares and reiterates its steadfast opposition to the construction of the Line 3 “replacement”;

Be it Further Resolved that: the IWW stands in solidarity with First Nations, union members, environmental activists, and community members who oppose it;

Be it Further Resolved that: the IWW urges rank-and-file members of building trades unions, the Teamsters, and other unions who have declared support for Enbridge Line 3 to agitate and call upon their elected officials to reverse their support; and

Be it Finally Resolved that: the IWW supports a just transition away from fossil-fueled colonial capitalism which countless workers and activists of all stripes have been developing and visioning for decades, and declares its intention to fight for the implementation of a real and transformative--in other words, anti-capitalist and anti-racist--Green New Deal.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A Green New Deal Must Be Rooted in a Just Transition for Workers and Communities Most Impacted by Climate Change

By various - Climate Justice Alliance, December 11, 2018

A Call for Special Attention to Highly Impacted Communities Leading a Just Transition

What is the Climate Justice Alliance?

The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) is a growing alliance, currently linking 68 community organizations, movement networks, and support organizations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico to unite under Just Transition strategies. CJA’s inter-generational constituencies are rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and poor white communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. They share legacies of colonialism, racial and economic oppression, along with rich histories of environmental, economic and social justice organizing.

CJA believes that in order to effectively confront the climate crisis, we must transition our priorities from global systems of production and consumption that are energy intensive and fossil fuel dependent to more localized systems that are sustainable, resilient, and regenerative.

The transition itself, however, must be just.

What is the Green New Deal (GND)?

The GND is a proposal recently put forth by Congressional Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and currently supported by 18 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. It comes on the heels of the midterm election where Democrats won the majority in the House as well as the election of a number of self-proclaimed Democratic Socialists. Building off of energy from the demonstrations in Nancy Pelosi’s office by the youth of the Sunrise Movement, the GND, at this stage, has been presented as a call for the establishment of a House Select Committee that would be charged with “developing a detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan for the transition of the United States economy to become carbon neutral.”  It also aims to “significantly draw down and capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and oceans and … promote economic and environmental justice and equality.”(1)

The GND is the first time in many years that a proposal of this type has been presented by a number of members of a major U.S. political party. It proposes to tackle climate change and inequality simultaneously, while revolutionizing conditions for workers.  It is a much needed aggressive national pivot away from climate denialism to climate action with large scale federal legislative and budgetary implications.

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