17 April: Faced with global crises, we build food sovereignty to ensure a future for humanity!

Press Release | Bagnolet 17/04/23

Today, April 17th, 2023, as we remember the “Eldorado dos Carajás Massacre” that took place 27 years ago in Brazil, and our many struggles in other places, we, La Via Campesina, raise our fists high in hope, knowing that food sovereignty, peasant agroecology, comprehensive popular agrarian reforms, popular peasant feminism and the implementation of United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Peasants and other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) will ensure a future for humanity and the planet.

Solidarity urgently needed!

Global protests are increasing due to the climate and environmental crisis, food crisis, and conflicts caused by shifting geopolitical contours. Social unrest has been observed in over 60 countries due to economic inequalities deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic. These crises expose the flaws in the dominant capitalist model, as capitalist interests destroy territories and threaten every life system worldwide. Governments have responded to protests with repression and persecution, including killings and assassinations, to intimidate and subdue movements. Social movements in various countries in Brazil, Palestine, Paraguay, Colombia, Mali, Ecuador, France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South Korea, Kenya, Canada, Haiti, Guatemala and Peru, among others, have alerted the world about the violations of workers’ and peasants’ rights, where civil unrest is high due to the high cost of living, and government policies that are further increasing social and economic inequalities.

Most governments are failing to keep up with the demand for better public services, leaving many citizens living precariously. For instance, in Europe, which until recently enjoyed much stability after the Second World War driven by unprecedented growth in production and the distribution of some of the wealth to the majority of the population, some countries face social instability as social achievements regress. In this new context of crisis, most governments prioritize the enrichment of the richest and the accumulation of capital, placing the burden of restrictions on the majority of the population. Governments are choosing capitalism at all costs, even breaking away from the framework of liberal democracy and the rule of law that has prevailed until now, with the so-called ‘defense of Western values’ being shattered.

La Via Campesina (LVC) stands in and is also committed to building solidarity with those who are being victimized by the criminalization of social protest on all continents. It is time to build a more fraternal world based on solidarity among peoples. We call for an immediate and unconditional end to the persecution of peasant movements and their leaders.

Grabbing and commodification of commons for profits continues unabated

The industrial food system continues to make super profits while trampling upon the lives and livelihoods of farming families and rural people, whose lands, water and territories are being grabbed for export land uses amid a worsening global food and economic crises. Water grabbing is on the rise to make money for a few and to grow export crops as the climate crisis worsens – climate change related droughts are now extensive and frequent.

We emphasize the need to inform, educate, organize, and articulate to build a social force that can stop the tendency to convert the climate crisis into business opportunities. LVC denounces the government’s indifference to the warming of the planet and the debate over speculative financial business, the new green and blue economy, and the privatisation of the commons, calling for political changes to cool it. LVC calls for redoubling of efforts to defend the commons and stop their commodification and demand the fair sharing of rights to use the commons.

Migrant crisis: result of an inhumane system of exploitation and repression

The crises has forced, mostly rural populations from the South, to migrate mostly to the Northern countries in search of better livelihoods. Instead of better lives, most migrants have been subjected to inhumane system of exploitation and repression. Thus struggles of migrant farm labor are also a fundamental part of the April 17 Day of Peasant Struggle.

Over a billion people work in agriculture fields, most of whom are peasants displaced from their lands due to neoliberal policies that favor agribusiness capital. Landless women make up almost 50% of this population. The loss of peasant lands in rural areas continues, leading to an increase in migrant workers seeking employment in agriculture in northern countries to support their impoverished families. These workers face unsustainable working conditions and receive the lowest wages in the labor sector. From Brazil to the US and Europe, migrant farm-workers are demanding their rights and standing against the exploitation of agribusiness capital.

The full recognition of full rights for migrant and refugee peoples constantly criminalised and murdered at the borders of our nations is also part of our struggle towards the full achievement of food sovereignty. We call on societies, social movements, and all people of good will, both North and South, to join our Global Pact of Solidarity in defense of the lives and human rights of all migrants and refugees everywhere.

Our solutions to the crises

Peasant organizations have a critical role to play in ensuring the future of humanity and the planet by resisting the hydro-agro-extractivism of transnational mega-corporations, which threaten the lands of peasants, indigenous peoples, and other rural inhabitants. This struggle for justice and dignity is significant as we celebrate the Day of Peasant Struggle on April 17. On this day, La Via Campesina reaffirms the central elements for a political project to ensure a future for humanity. These elements include food sovereignty, agrarian reform, peasant agroecology, demand for a UN Special Procedure on the UNDROP, and peasant and popular feminism:

  • Food sovereignty offers an alternative to the current crises of hunger, climate, and ecology by transforming the industrial model and creating local food systems that link rural and urban areas. It prohibits speculation in food futures contracts and addresses two significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions: long-distance transportation of food and industrialized agriculture. Principles of Food Sovereignty can provide us the framework for a new global trade framework that can end the dominance of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which currently is attempting to legitimise its work through creation of a space for civil society in its structure and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
  • Agrarian reform is necessary to ensure fair sharing of rights to use commons and democratize ownership of territories, which is currently being concentrated by elites.
  • Peasant agroecology is a means of resistance to an economic system that prioritizes profit over life and is responsible for deforestation, water contamination, and acidification of oceans. It offers an essential alternative to industrial food production and transforms the way we produce and consume food.
  • Demand for a UN Special Procedure on the UNDROP will allow for effective implementation at the international level.
  • Peasant and popular feminism cultivates defense of relationships based on respect and care for others and rejects modes of relationship based on violence, domination, and control of others.

Towards the Eighth International Conference (#8ConfLVC)

In November this year, La Via Campesina will convene its 8th International Conference in Nicaragua*. And as we gather our proposals towards this important event, our rallying call to unite and build a new society is well expressed in the 8th Conference slogan: “Faced with the Global Crises, we build Food Sovereignty to ensure a Future for Humanity!” We will exchange and build a collective vision for the future based on these existing alternatives that are being practiced in our communities.

Globalise the struggle! Globalise hope!

For more information write to press@viacampesina.org

*Important note: In May 2023, La Via Campesina announced that the 8th International Conference will be held in Bogota, Colombia in December 2023.