2023 | August Newswrap: Highlights from La Via Campesina member organisations around the world

In August, we reactivated the call for our 8th International Conference, scheduled for 1st to 8th December 2023 in Bogota, Colombia. Our slogan for the conference, “Faced with the global crises, we build Food Sovereignty to ensure a future for humanity”, captures the updates and alerts we present in this edition of the newswrap, which contains news from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

The 50th Congress of the Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP) was held in the Hinche district of Haiti from 5th to 11th August. The event was attended by 1,152 delegates, including an international delegation from our movement and peasants from Tèt Kole and the Mouvman Peyizan Nasyonal Kongre Papay (MPNKP), the other two member organisations of LVC in Haiti. In the midst of the country’s multidimensional crisis, the congress addressed concrete solutions such as agrarian reform, agroecology and peasant feminism, which are set out in its action plan for the next 5 years. Our delegation reaffirmed the importance of a Haitian solution for Haiti in a joint statement with other organisations present, strongly rejecting threats of military intervention by the US and other members of the Core Group.

Also in the first days of August, La Via Campesina joined the global solidarity campaign “Let Cuba Live”, which demands the removal of Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, promoted by the US. This adds to the already devastating economic blockade, which keeps the Cuban people isolated, making it even more difficult to trade and obtain basic consumer goods.

In other news, in solidarity with the peasants of Niger, La Via Campesina published a statement of solidarity, condemning the harsh ECOWAS sanctions, which after the coup d’état, are mainly affecting the population and the peasantry. Our peasant movement joins the people and peasant organisations in Niger in rejecting the threats of a military intervention by ECOWAS, which, with the support of France and the European Union, will only bring more violence and poverty. We also join the call for solutions that respect the sovereignty of the people of Niger, including peasant rights and food sovereignty, in order to achieve peace and prosperity.

In Senegal, the peasant youth of the Conseil National de Concertation et de Coopération des Ruraux (CNCR), assigned the Pink Lake as the site of the second Camp of Peasant Agroecology for Climate and Community-based Natural Resource Management (CAP-GCRN2). In doing so, the young people of the CNCR aim to learn about the needs of the local population, who live off the ecosystem of the lake, currently on the verge of collapse after the floods caused by the heavy rains of 2022, and to make their demands known to the state authorities in order to preserve this symbolic lake that serves as a livelihood for many families.

During July and early August in Zimbabwe, ZIMSOFF‘s small farmer organisations held seed and food festivals that highlighted the wide range of traditional foods and products. At these events, exchanges and bartering took place between participants. In the midst of economic challenges caused by the country’s high inflation, small farmers took advantage of these fairs to strengthen solidarity and establish networks between buyers and consumers.

ZIMSOFF youth celebrated the International Youth Day on 12th August at the Shashe School of Agroecology. They participated in planting trees as a way to combat climate change, highlighting their role in caring for and protecting the planet. Similarly, youth from ESAFF Uganda conducted a successful webinar discussing the potential of agroecology to generate green jobs and transform food systems. They emphasised the need for enabling policies to address barriers to youth prosperity.

In Tanzania, MVIWATA celebrated its 30th anniversary by launching the first Agroecological Market Centre, located in Morogoro. This centre was officially opened on 2nd August and will serve as a space where everyone can learn from farmers and buy agroecological products. On 5th August, MVIWATA participated in the Mwalimu Nyerere Fairgrounds, where the organisation showcased the wide diversity of peasant agroecology.

On 22nd August, in Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), held a demonstration at the port of Gaza. They demanded an end to the sea blockade, condemned Zionist attacks on fisherfolk and supported their right to access livelihoods. Palestinian farmers face extremely difficult conditions, working more than 13 hours a day without weekly rest, without legal contracts, insurance or adequate income. In addition, they must travel long distances to their fields. In response, the UAWC will organise a national conference in Tubas (Palestine) in November 2023 to address these issues and find solutions.

In Tunisia, on 13th August, on the occasion of National Women’s Day, the Million Rural Women and the organisation of the Landless contributed to the creation of the first communal enterprise. This initiative is based on the principle of women’s right to access to land and to fight against all forms of exploitation and servitude. The President of the Republic paid a visit to this communal enterprise and granted them a 541-hectare plot of land for agricultural activities. Thanks to this, more than 50 women, who previously worked as agricultural labourers on the same land, have become landowners.

In the Dominican Republic, on 21st and 22nd of August 2023, the continental communication meeting of CLOC-La Via Campesina took place at the Agroecology School (IALA) Mamá Tingo. During the meeting of communicators, local peasant organisations expressed their solidarity with the struggle against extractivism in Panama and rejected First Quantum’s mining contract with the Panamanian government. UPC Panama emphasised that the Panamanian peasants’ land dispute is about the preservation of life, in contrast to the harmful nature of mining.

In Guatemala, on 9th August, in the framework of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, the Committee of Peasant Unity (CUC) participated in a virtual chat with indigenous representatives, such as Daniel Pascual Hernández, coordinator of the CUC. The event addressed ancestral knowledge and highlighted the value of languages for the recovery of indigenous education, food and livelihoods. States were urged to seriously consider the situation of indigenous peoples and respect their autonomy.

Still in Latin America, in August, the National Agrarian Coordinator – CNA, representing CLOC – Via Campesina, participated in the “Amazon Dialogues” that took place in Belém Do Pará, Brazil, where several indigenous, black and peasant organisations that inhabit the territory converged. During the meeting, the CNA proposed the recognition of agro-food peasant territories as a life project and the continued survival of peasants in Amazonian territories. It called for the formation of peasant, black and indigenous guards as a mechanism for the self-protection of territories, peoples, leaders and organisations.

On 18th August, in Peru, Fenmucarinap commemorated its 17 years of existence by organising an extraordinary assembly to make decisions in the face of the political, economic and environmental crisis in Peru. It also held a press conference in which the importance of food sovereignty was discussed and the cross-cutting role of peasant and popular feminism in the search for justice and equality was highlighted. The event was attended by representatives of the Kokama Kukamira people of Nauta (Loreto), who are demanding the restitution of lands concessioned to private companies by the Peruvian government. Morgan Ody, general coordinator of La Via Campesina, joined virtually to highlight the importance of women’s struggle for the right to land.

In India, farmers from the Karnataka State Farmers’ Association (KRRS) and other groups have been protesting against rising debts in Bellary for a long time. On 21st August, hundreds of peasants from various parts of the district held a protest march, using bullock carts and tractors. They denounced the “harassment of peasants by Karnataka Gramin Bank” and demanded the cancellation of agricultural loans.

In Sri Lanka, MONLAR organised a public symposium on agroecology attended by LVC members from South Asia. At the event they discussed the current food crisis, the extreme weather events that disrupt agriculture in South Asian countries, and the state of the economy that has accentuated the agricultural crisis. Guests emphasised the need for governments in the region to recognise the harmful effects of chemical farming and farmers’ debt.

The Korean Peasant League has issued an alert for devastation in rural areas due to recurring weather disasters. Between March and July, extreme temperatures, hail and heavy rains damaged crops across the country. In August, a typhoon hit the peninsula. This is in addition to a drastic drop in the price of rice due to agricultural imports and soaring production costs for fertiliser, materials and oil.

In Thailand, the Assembly of the Poor (AoP) drew attention to the plight of riverine communities along the Mekong and Mun rivers. The assembly points out that the decision to open or close the Pak Mun dam gates is incompatible with the migration season of the river’s fish species.

In Europe, the farmers’ union EHNE Bizkaia in the Basque Country has launched a series of educational videos entitled “Passing on the wisdom of Baserritarra women“, the intention being to disseminate and recover the wisdom and skills that Basque women farmers have passed down from generation to generation.

In Belgium, the Mouvement d’Action Paysanne (MAP), in co-production with Permanier TV, released a documentary film detailing the harsh economic situation faced by peasants and small farmers due to agribusiness appropriation. They also made a direct appeal to the population to consume local products and take responsibility for the country’s food sovereignty.

If there is any important update we have missed, please send the links to communications@viacampesina.org for inclusion in the next edition. We only include updates from La Via Campesina members. For a comprehensive update on various initiatives from August 2023, please visit our website. You can also find the previous editions of our news wrap on our website.

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