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La Via Campesina

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!

Women of the World, Mobilise this #March8

By Rashmi Munikempanna, Iridiani Seibert, Mily Treviño-Sauceda - La Via Campesina, February 27, 2017

For the women of La Via Campesina from all over the world, 8th of March is a day of struggle, resistance and denunciation of the capitalist system, transnational corporations (TNCs), patriarchy and masochism. These oppress, exploit and violate women. It's also a day of solidarity with women’s struggles. 

As peasant women, we are fully committed to the struggle for food sovereignty as a solution for systemic change. This includes our struggle for access to land, water, health and seeds. We use agroecology as a political practice which envisions a world built on the principles of justice and equity.  

In recent times, we have seen an increase in violence against women. Our struggles and resistances are being criminalised in a context of growing conservatisms, dismantling of public policies and violations of long-fought-for women’s rights.

The recent grab of power by right-wing governments and heteropatriarchal forces around the world has further imposed an environment where women are violated, oppressed and in some cases assassinated with impunity. In this system, women suffer violence in different ways every day. There are patriarchal forces that confine and bind women in the private sphere, i.e. the home, to care for others. These forces constantly keep us, women, away from political sphere or the social and public life.  

Therefore, it is necessary for us, peasant women of the world, to take the street on this 8th of March, to mobilise, take action and defend our rights, lands, seeds, healthy food and to raise our voices to say Stop Violence Against Women, in ways that suit each organisation’s struggles, goals and local contexts.

We are committed to building alliances for the struggles of peasant women against capital and heteropatriarchal violence. Therefore, we also support and join the International Women Strike this 8th of March. 

NFU commemorates April 17th: International Day of Peasants' Struggle

By staff - La Via Campesina, April 18, 2017

(Saskatoon, April 17, 2017) -  On April 17th, 1996, 19 peasants were killed when military police in Pará, Brazil attacked members of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) who were blockading a highway in order to demand agrarian reform. Two more people died from their injuries several days later, and hundreds were so seriously injured that they could not go on working in agriculture. La Via Campesina, which was then in the midst of holding its second international conference in Tlaxcala, Mexico, declared April 17th to be the International Day of Farmers' and Peasants' Struggle

La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) International Programming Committee (IPC) joins in commemorating the International Day of Peasants' Struggle by continuing to work to broaden the NFU's understanding and analysis of the global food system, by better understanding the impact of Canadian agricultural policy on farming families both domestically and globally, and by sharing information and experiences among farmers and their allies in other countries. 

We stand in solidarity with peasants around the world who face threats and discrimination, persecution and violence and we support the advance toward the UN Declaration of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.  

In July 2017, in the Basque Country, La Via Campesina will hold its 7th International Conference.  Several members of the NFU will attend this important conference to deepen our understanding and analysis of the struggles faced by peasants and farmers, and work to strengthen our movement.

Largest-ever European food sovereignty gathering kicks off in Romania

By staff - La Via Campesina, October 25, 2016

Cluj-Napoca, October 25th – the largest-ever European meeting on food sovereignty starts today, as over 500 people from over 40 countries gather to discuss how to reclaim our ever-more corporate-controlled food and farming system. [1]

The second European Nyéléni Forum for Food Sovereignty runs from October 26-30, and brings together farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists, gardeners, food and agricultural workers, researchers, activists and many more.

For Jyoti Fernandes, peasant farmer from the UK and coordination committee member for the European Coordination Via Campesina, « the convergence here in Cluj of so many sectors and constituencies of society is essential in transforming and strengthening our food systems in Europe, based on agroecology. From the farm to the plate, the economic, environmental, social and public health stakes of food production must mobilize all levels of society – local, national and international. Here, in Nyéléni Europe, this is happening.»

 Stanka Becheva, food and farming campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: “The food fight is on against agribusiness mega-mergers, which would rubber-stamp industrial farming. The diversity and size of the movement assembled here this week shows the strength of the food sovereignty movement, and how it is ready to push for better farming for people and planet.”

The forum features a “peasants’ market”, film screenings, and site visits to local peasants demonstrating sustainable local farming methods and environmental justice struggles including the highly controversial proposed gold mine at Roșia Montană.

Themes discussed at the forum include models of food production and consumption, food distribution, the right to natural resources and the commons, and how to improve work and social conditions in food and agricultural systems.

Spokespeople from a variety of professions and backgrounds are available for interview in person or on the phone in English, Romanian, French, German, Turkish, Spanish, Dutch etc.

List of spokespeople: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KIbHCiXgkwY5eKUYkX5sVweaFDsM3IxxZ_21abhxOBI/edit?usp=sharing

Declaration of LVC Delegation to the 2016 World Social Forum

By La Via Campesina - August 14, 2016

We not only believe that another world is necessary, the members of La Vía Campesina are already building a better world."

--Carlos Marentes, co-coordinator of the North America Region of LVC

We, representatives of member organizations of La Vía Campesina from the North America Region (Union Paysanne from Quebec, National Farmers Union, Canada, National Family Farm Coalition, Rural Coalition and Border Agricultural Workers Project from United States), accompanied by LVC members from Europe, Palestine and Brazil took part in the World Social Forum in Montreal, Quebec from August 9-14, 2016.  

We were graciously hosted by the Union paysanne and reaffirmed our support for their struggle to end the syndicate-monopoly control of agriculture in Quebec, adding our voice to the demand that "There is no Food Sovereignty without Peasant sovereignty". 

In our press conference of August 11th, Maxime Laplante declared: "The Quebec situation is extremely particular in that there is in Quebec only one organization having the right to represent farmers here, to negotiate with the government or to intervene in the management of marketing plans, marketing, etc. That organization is the Union des Producteurs Agricoles (UPA). It is the only organization with the legal right to represent farmers." 

La Via Campesina North America woman coordinator and vice-chair of the National Family Farm Coalition Dena Hoff stated: ''The whole region of La Via Campesina stands behind Union paysanne in its demands for recognition by the government of Quebec as the voice of the peasants struggling for food sovereignty." 

The LVC delegation participated enthusiastically in the opening march, in many workshops, panels and assemblies on the themes of food sovereignty, the right to food, post extractive societies, agro-ecology and peoples agrarian reform, and the future of the WSF, among many topics, together with allies like ETC Group, Grain, Climate Space, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Global Justice Now, USC Canada, SUCO, Why Hunger, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Global Forest Coalition, Focus on the Global South, Development and Peace, Inter-Pares, Vigilance OGM Québec, and others. 

As Dena Hoff, stated: "The fight for food sovereignty will be won with a million grassroots efforts". 

At a time of deepening crises in the world, including massive suffering of migrants fleeing war, increasing poverty and hunger, extreme weather events, corporate driven land and resource grabs, the expansion and consolidation of big agribusiness and monocultures of feed and fuel plantations across the planet, we declare our firm commitment as LVC to the life-or-death struggle for food sovereignty, a peoples agrarian reform, seed and biodiversity sovereignty, the democratization of the food system and the strong defense of human rights. 

We question the use of the concept of "agro-ecology" and climate buzzwords that are removed from the context of food sovereignty and used as a means of justifying an expansion of  "green washing" or for NGO fund raising.  We insist that agro-ecology signifies a validation of small and medium scale farming, peasant-led research and innovation, and it signifies the integration of traditional practices, and peasant and rural community control of our seeds. 

Food sovereignty is the right of farmers and eaters to control their own food production, processing and distribution with culturally appropriate foods and equitable compensation and dignity for food providers. We assert that small-scale farming, fishing, herding, hunting and gathering are essential in the struggle to bring relief to climate change and continue feeding humanity.  We seek access to land for all, especially youth with the drive to feed their communities. We seek an end to the invasion of GMO seeds into our territories and we demand the right of farmers to continue to produce, save and share their own seeds.  We say  "No" to corporate agriculture and say "Yes" to the people of the land and to the peasant way.  

LVC also publically criticized the Canadian Government because many leaders of important social movements were unable to attend the WSF as many hundreds of visas were denied, including the visas of two of the peasant leaders in our delegation.  

We have also taken the opportunity provided by the WSF 2016 to express our solidarity with all the movements currently fighting against violence, dispossession, exclusion and the attacks against the democratic rights of people. We specially expressed our solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people against the oppression, and exploitation at the hands of Zionist Settler Colonialism, the struggle of our compañeras and compañeros of the Landless Movement of Brazil against the recent State Coup, the First Nations courageous struggle against the threats to the integrity of their land posed by tar-sand exploitation, pipelines and other destructive actions by capital, and the fight against the increasing violence against black people and therefore we fully support the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

¡GLOBALIZE THE STRUGGLE, GLOBALIZE HOPE! 

Given in Montreal, Quebec, on August 14, 2016

A call for solidarity against forced evictions of MST members in northern Brazil

By staff - La Via Campesina, December 13, 2017

An aggressive attack is being waged against landless farmers in the northern state of Pará, Brazil, according to a statement released by the Landless Workers Movement (MST) on Tuesday.

According to members of Brazil’s largest social movement, large-scale landowners along with local judicial authorities, media outlets and the Brazilian military police are targeting MST encampments throughout the country.

Occupants living in 20 encampments located in the northern State of Pará are preparing for a planned eviction on Wednesday, which activists warn will force more than 2000 families into precarious living conditions.

Meanwhile, leading up to Wednesday’s forced eviction, unarmed families and individuals living in the MST’s Hugo Chavez encampment site, were reportedly shot at on Monday by private security officials.

The recent violence takes place as the Brazilian government continues to peruse regressive land ownership laws, which have resulted in devastating consequences on landless and displaced agricultural workers.

During the administration of the unelected Brazilian President Michel Temer, the MST has witnessed increased levels of state violence and criminalization against members of their movement

In light of the escalating violence and repression, we are issuing a call of international solidarity! So, please feel free to send us a short video or statement in support of the MST!

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.

Gender Diversity in the Peasant Movement

Translated by staff - La Via Campesina, October 3, 2016

The global peasant movement La Via Campesina is slowly beginning to open up to the subject of gender diversity. By Paula Gioia, member of the coordinating committee of ECVC

Food Sovereignty is also connected to gender relations – and to respecting different ways of life and the rights of LGBTTQI*. The movement of landless peasants in Brazil is showing this and providing important inspirations for debates in Europe.

Since its founding in 1993, La Via Campesina has promoted Food Sovereignty and a change of the capitalist and patriarchal power relations that are dominating our world today. La Via Campesina is an international movement of peasants, land workers and landless people, fisher folk, pastoralists and migrant workers. It has about 200 million members, organized in more than 160 organizations in 73 countries. In Via Campesina, feminist approaches to Food Sovereignty have played an important role in our peasant movement from the start, to counteract discrimination and all forms of violence against women in rural areas. The participation of women in leading positions has been central to all Via Campesina organizing and campaigning, with all committees made up of 50% men and 50% women. But only after more than 20 years a debate on sexual and gender diversity is slowly beginning.

The visibility and recognition of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, trans*sexual, intersexual and queer identifying persons (LGBTTQI*) within Via Campesina

have found little consideration in our debates so far. As a movement that is the global leader in the political project of Food Sovereignty and fighting against social exclusion based on the principles of collective living and mutual respect, we must commit to widening this framework to include the rights of LGBTTQI* peasants and food producers.

Within the international context of LVC, incorporating the rights of peasants and food producers that identify at LGBTTQI* is still being sensitively explored and developed. However on localized and regional levels there are grassroots movements who are members of LVC that are already engaging with and incorporating the rights of LGBTTQI* peasants and food producers into their organizations. One example is the Brazilian movement of landless workers (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – MST), whose experiences can serve as important reference points to the debates arising currently in the European context of Via Campesina.

"We want to come out stronger and have our rights respected"

By staff - La Via Campesina, February 22, 2017

Speaking with Inmaculada Ibáñez Vargas from Vía Campesina Europe, just months before the International Peasant Movement's Seventh Conference.

As part of the preparatory process for Vía Campesina's International Conference, which will take place in July in the Basque Country, the women's articulation group from Vía Campesina held a meeting at the organisation ANTA in El Salvador. 

Andalusian Inmaculada Ibáñez, member of the women's articulation group and leader of the women's faction of the Coordinadora Agricultores Ganaderos (a major farmer organisation in Spain), spoke with Radio Mundo Real about the main topics that will be covered by the event. These will be angled from a peasant and popular feminism perspective.

She stressed, in particular, the lack of rights she witnessed granted to peasants in El Salvador and the negative impact this can have. Her visit to El Salvador was her first visit to Latin America. She also mentioned that as part of its Seventh Conference, Vía Campesina sets out to make the role of female peasants more visibile in food production.

In the interview, Inmaculada said that what is often called the "primary sector is extremely important because we are talking about food production".

When asked about the situation faced by migrants who are attempting to get to Europe and the obstacles they encounter when trying to reach the EU, Inmaculada recalled that both Spain and Brussels have signed a series of agreements that allow migrants to gain access to their territories.

"We want to come out stronger and have our rights respected", said Inmaculada in her conversation in El Salvador, where she was speaking about the desired outcome of the peasant conference in the Basque Country.

Inmaculada said that the lack of protection rights and social security enjoyed by peasant men and women in Central America constituted one of the starker contrasts between European peasants and their American counterparts.

She concluded by saying: "when people like us who work in the fields have rights, this doesn't just improve our life quality but also the life quality of the population as a whole, because we are feeding the world and this is extremely important".

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