Building Food Sovereignty in a Moment of Crisis for Capitalism

Erika Takeo of the ATC with international guests Fausto Torrez (ATC Nicaragua) and Deolinda del Valle Carrizo (MNCI Argentina) at the USFSA IV National Assembly Torrez at the “Building Food Sovereignty in a Moment of Crisis for Capitalism” Panel at the US Food Sovereignty Alliance’s IV National Assembly
Bellingham, Washington, USA
October 12th, 2018

My name is Fausto Torrez, member of the Rural Workers’ Association in Nicaragua and the Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations (CLOC) and La Via Campesina of Central America.

Thank you Saulo and the Alliance for inviting us to be here and share this experience with all of you. We are going to do a quick tour of Latin America because it has a link with North America, more than anything because of the crisis of capitalism and its impact on food sovereignty.

After the second half of the 20th century, neoliberalism took over the continent and capitalism began to devastate the countryside and the city. This phenomenon also allowed for the strengthening of the WTO and free trade agreements. We are in a difficult moment that is really affecting agriculture: extractivism, geoengineering, land grabbing, repression, criminalization, criminalization of social movements. Mother Earth can’t sustain all of this overconsumption and exploitation. There is depeasantization. The advance of capital around the world has created migration, in this case migration often for environmental reasons. People are displaced from their communities and break from the structural order of the country, and then they are looked badly upon in their destination countries.

Currently there is a clash between two models of production. One is a model imposed by capitalism — the agribusiness, agroexport model, a conventional model of agriculture full of toxins and chemicals. And the other is the peasant agriculture model which requires land, water and territory to promote agrarian reform, the fundamental base of food sovereignty. This is the peasant family agriculture model. At the national and international level, this crisis has created a lot of mobilization.

We are living in a very difficult moment in Nicaragua. In Latin America, we are experiencing a move from democracy to barbarian madness. Two North American academics shocked the world: Gene Sharp and William Lind. The first one talks about soft coups, and the second talks about fourth generation warfare. It’s theory. Nonetheless it has been put into practice; the color revolutions in countries allied with the Soviet Union, the Arab Spring, and soft coups in Latin America. Now they have Lula, a worker leader in Brazil, in prison. They took Correa out of power in Ecuador. They took down Cristina Fernández in Argentina, and what came about was fascism in Macri. Also with Duque in Colombia. It will be difficult if this functions with Bolsonaro in Brazil. This conflict of soft coups started with Zelaya in Honduras, Fernando Lugo in Paraguay, and these are all conflicts that started with the topic of land, and now recently in Nicaragua. Why do we call them soft coups? It is because they are creating fascism in Latin America.

I am going to share a quick example. The ideas of Gene Sharp and William Lind, the second was a member of the U.S. Army, were to replace war tanks with social media in a society that has very little political and ideological training, and in the end they end up saying exactly what the transnational chains are saying. It’s a topic that is not new. A Nazi in the 1930s in Germany said, “A lie repeated a thousand times becomes truth.” All of this has been created by savage capitalism.

One hundred and fifteen years ago, a Russian politician named Lenin said, “What Is to Be Done?” So I am going to share with North America a couple of suggestions or ideas from La Via Campesina of Latin America of ways that we can achieve food sovereignty. So first of all we have to make a just transition possible. We have to break from patriarchy. We have to improve working conditions for the working class, freedom of organizing, human rights. We have to struggle for original peoples or indigenous peoples. This is the guarantee for the stability of Mother Earth. We have to struggle against misogyny, xenophobia, and repression. One of the fundamental tasks of Vía Campesina is to promote popular and integral agrarian reform, guarantee access to land, water, and territory to those who are growing our food. It is fundamental that with land we can promote food sovereignty through agroecology, which is about recuperating ancestral knowledge, and promoting the peasant to peasant methodology.

In Latin America we have nine agroecology schools which we call Agroecological Institutes. In Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Cuba and Nicaragua. We are not training agronomists. We are training militant peasants that can cool the planet. That are not arriving just to complete the tasks of Monsanto, Syngenta and Bio. Achieving food sovereignty is the first step for the liberation of the working class. And this first step is something that we are doing in the South and you all in the North too as a first step make a new world, to transform the world.

The way capitalism is currently working is not going to be able overcome the problems of hunger in this world. It will create more crises. We can overcome these crises with social movement. Both in the United States and Central America, class struggle is the same. We have to transform society from the base, from below. We cannot deal with the governments because governments are responding to the interests of transnationals. From La Via Campesina we feel very content to be with all of you because we share the same idea. Internationalism is not a lobby. It is social struggle to change the system. Capitalism creates its own gravediggers; we are strengthening our movements to change and create a more just society. This is the center of the struggle of La Via Campesina.


Watch video of the talk on Friends of the ATC’s Facebook page