- Published on Thursday, 12 April 2012 00:00
International Peasant’s Day Struggle will take place April 17 and the Centro de Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos in El Paso is calling on the community to join them for a food sovereignty call to action rally. Food sovereignty is the right to produce food on one’s own territory. The rally and other events will take place at CTAF, located at 201 E. Ninth Ave.
CTAF is a regional organization that feeds, houses and advocates for the welfare of farm workers in the border region. The International Peasant’s Day of Struggle was started by La Vía Campesina (The Peasants’ Way), an international organization that was founded in 1993 by farmers’ organizations from Europe, Latin America and Africa.
One of the biggest issues that La Vía Campesina is fighting against is land grabbing.
According to La Vía Campesina, land grabbing is a global phenomenon led by local, national and transnational investors and governments to control the world’s most precious resources. It has resulted in the concentration of land and natural resources into the hands of large-scale investors, plantation owners, tourism agencies and real estate developers. This has led to the eviction and displacement of the local populations, which La Vía Campesinaclaims is a violation of human rights, an increase in poverty and pollution of the environment.
“Students need to be aware about this movement because it highlights the mobilization happening in this current scenario of the right to life, land, labor, freedom and peace, which historically, people of the fields have been excluded from,” said Adrian Rivera, president of the UTEP student organization Cultural Artist United for Social Action.
In response to the land grabbing, La Vía Campesina is calling on all of its allies, including agricultural workers organizations and social activism groups around the world, to display massive popular resistance actions April 17.
“This movement is particularly important for El Paso because farm workers place food on all of our tables, but are not properly remunerated or protected in what is one of the most hazardous occupations in the U.S.,” said Dennis Bixler-Marquez, director of the Chicano Studies program. “It is the only industry that allows minors to work to the detriment of their safety. CTAF has assisted that population effectively, in spite of a lack of financial support from the city or county.”
CTAF supports the La Vía Campesina’s movement because they advocate for the same human rights for farmworkersregionally. They operate with the help of volunteers, who keep the center clean and open every day of the year to assist those in need. The center provides various types of services to farmworkers and low-income residents of the area such as English classes, arts and recreation for children and adults, as well as housing and a cafeteria. Because the center receives very little funding from the city, social activism groups at UTEP such as CAUSA do what they can to support their efforts.
“CAUSA does volunteer recruitments, cooking and serving of lunches, clothing drives, movie showings, building up-keep and any other work our farmworker center needs,” Rivera said. “We feel compelled to support the center because of the help it requires and the role that farmworkers play in our daily life. We share many of the same principles, soCAUSA members and farmworkers exercise the freedom to strengthen and value each other’s abilities and ideas.”
CTAF will participate in the International Peasant’s Day of Struggle by displaying an exhibit of farmworkerdocumentation dating back to the 1930s, as well as symbolic murals. They will also host tours of the center’s facilities.
“If people choose to attend CTAF’s celebration April 17, their consciousness will be raised about the moral obligation we have to improve the standard of living, working conditions and earnings of farmworkers,” Bixler-Marquez said. “It is a distinct approach to giving back to those people in El Paso that need the most help.”
CTAF welcomes visitors, not only for the International Peasant’s Day of Struggle event, but every day of the week to come and learn about their mission to help struggling farmworkers.
“We should celebrate one of the largest groups of the world, who grow most of the food we eat,” Rivera said. “The access to food is a basic human right and therefore food should not be subject to the regulations imposed by transnational corporations.”
For more information on the day’s events, contact CTAF at 532-0921.