(Harare, April 17th 2018) After two decades of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), being advanced in an attempt to recolonize and 22 years after the de Eldorado dos Carajás massacre in Brazil, La Via Campesina denounces the impunity with which these actions are carried out. The global peasant movement issues a call to resist, in an organized way, these treaties that try to take over of our natural resources and local markets, for the benefit of the transnational capital and agribusinesses, with the States playing a mute spectator or an accomplice.This 17th April, on the occasion of the International Day of Peasant´s Struggle, the member organisations and allies of La Via Campesina are organizing scores of unified and decentralized actions in a global scale, for the right to land and water, against the Free Trade Agreement and against the criminalization of the social struggle saying: Enough FTA, enough impunity!
The FTAs are more than just commerce. These are agreements that enforce structural reforms, which in turn strengthen the transnational corporations (International legally binding instrument on transnational corporations (TNCs), the economic interests of the national elites and the governments. Free Trade Agreements have the global objective to commercialise water, land, seeds and taking over life itself. Bilateral and Regional free trade agreements that are done between two or more governments, even though may remain outside the World Trade Organisation, and are also tools to advance the neo-liberal agenda.
Just as the mistrust of FTAs are growing, so are the acts of resistances and mobilisations. Today, and in the coming weeks, our organizations all around the world are organising several actions to denounce the adverse impact FTAs have had on peasant families and food sovereignty.
The European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) is mobilising in the region and demanding from the European Union to free the peasants from Free Trade Agreements!
Protesting the MERCOSUR, CETA, JEFTA free trade agreements, ECVC states “these treaties are a fatal blow to us, small and medium farmers already in a situation of crisis. These agreements facilitates dumping and the expansion of agroindustry at the expense of peasant communities”.
CLOC, the Latin American Coordination of Via Campesina calls upon the people to resist the impunity of Corporations that carry out human rights violations. It insists on building new alternatives in the territories and demand the implementation of popular agrarian reform that guarantees food sovereignty to the people.
The International Coordination Committee (ICC) of La Via Campesina is also meeting in South Korea in the week, starting April 17. To commemorate the struggle against FTAs, the ICC will also take part in the International Forum on Free Trade and Agriculture in Seoul on April 19.
“Even though World Trade Organisation (WTO) has failed in their multi-lateral agreements, it still functions as the world’s police enforcing the neoliberal Free Trade Agreements. And with the FTAs the corporations and States are carrying out an assault against the peasantry. Institutions such as the WTO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund never work for the peasants and for this reason, as peasants, we think that they should just disappear” says Kim Jeong Yeol from the Korean Women Peasant Association and an ICC member.
La Via Campesina this day also denounces the systematic violations of the peasants fundamental rights that could be alarming, in countries like Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras, Colombia among others thousands of peasants are murdered with total impunity. In Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, The Philippines and Pakistan, thousands of peasants are murdered with total impunity and many violations of peasants’ rights also occur. These incidents tend to aggravate because of the FTAs that are exclusively to the service of the corporations and the capital. This is why in this context we demand a “UN Declaration recognising the Rights of Peasants and Other People working in Rural Areas”.
Free Trade Agreements promote land and water grabbing, destroy local markets and put food sovereignty at risk all together. And the effects are far wider and promote the privatisation of public services as well – like health services, medicine, telecommunications, energy, the water supply provisions, – among others- opening vast areas to foreign investment. In many cases the signatory governments are forced to reform their laws, and carry out irreversible compromises. The protection of the investments forbids agrarian reform, as Governments prioritises investor interests over national democratic decisions. Through such agreements, the Corporations strengthen their power to influence policies and regulations in these signatory countries.
Report of the VII International Conference of La Via Campesina
The report from the VII International Conference of La Via Campesina that took place in Basque Country in July 2017, brings to you key moments and important declarations issued by the global peasant movement.
Title: Report of the 7th Conference
Edition: April 2018
We are La Via Campesina
“We feed our peoples and build the movement to change the world!” was the call that thundered from the voices of 700 participants from four continents, gathered in the town of Derio (Euskal Herria) within the Spanish State, from July 17th to 24th, 2017 at the 7th International Conference of La Via Campesina. But what exactly is La Via Campesina, and what brought all these people from all corners of the globe together to share with each other?
In a sense, the very slogan of the 7th International Conference defines La Via Campesina (LVC). Food producers, peasants, small farmers of all genders and ages, fisherfolk, beekeepers, herders, agricultural workers—in short, the people who for centuries have fed and continue to feed the world’s population—make up LVC. Rather than individuals or non-governmental organizations that “represent” peasants and rural peoples, its members are movements and organizations with grassroots members and leadership structures that assure that peasant farmers represent themselves.
A Basque peasant explained the origins of LVC on the first day of the conference:
LVC was born to give a voice to the voiceless, to spark the leadership role of peasant movements. At that moment, it was intuitive: we knew we wanted to have our own voice. The first move was to bring together all movements opposed to neoliberal policies, to construct a peasant culture of solidarity, to create a peasant class awareness. We decided to build identity from the bottom up, not based on patriarchy. We wanted to make an autonomous movement, free from political and economic powers. We wanted to be in the international negotiations on food and agricultural policies. In that moment, we were already a diverse movement, and we wanted to be diverse in all senses.
It was a unique moment. The free trade agreements were well-regarded, even by much of the left; nobody opposed free trade. We, however, saw it as the main instrument of violence against our peasant way of life. The first debate was on the World Trade Organization. We took up that struggle with audacity. We began to break the “there-is-no-alternative” discourse of the corporations, about modernity, about technology, about productivity. It was already clear in that moment, in ’93, the crisis in peasant agriculture had begun to generate poverty and waves of migration. This was the context of the ideological struggle; we challenged the monopoly of thought. Before, there was only one voice in debates on agriculture: that of corporations and large landowners. Today we are many more social movements who struggle against this model. Today, we struggle as one voice against the giant corporations.