In early January, as the world turned the page on another year, La Via Campesina (LVC) issued a communiqué on behalf of all its members and allies, expressing the unwavering faith of the global peasant movement in the power of working class solidarity and hope. In these turbulent times of despair and war, La Via Campesina’s message of hope called for recognising these realities, identifying their causes and fighting for radical and transformative change in the daily lives of peasants, indigenous peoples and workers everywhere.
This message of unity and solidarity was essential as the month of January was marked by traumatic news of repression, assassinations and criminalisation of social movements around the world and particularly in Peru. Excessive use of force by state agents, including the use of firearms to contain social mobilisations, led to the deaths of scores of demonstrators, including minors, and hundreds of others were injured following a state of emergency decree issued by the executive on 14 December. Throughout January, allies and members of La Via Campesina issued statements and warnings to the world about the unacceptable actions of the Peruvian state against its own people, especially peasants and indigenous peoples.
During the month, La Via Campesina also drew attention to the multifaceted crisis in Haiti, which it says is caused by the interventionist policies of the imperialist nations. In a statement of solidarity, the movement alerted its members and allies to large-scale land grabs, the eviction of peasant families and a massive rural exodus in the country.
In Brazil, La Via Campesina denounced and condemned the despicable act of terrorism and attempted coup in January against the formal institutions of the Brazilian government. “Together with our organisations of La Via Campesina Brazil, we defend food sovereignty, peasant agroecology and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), for health, education and quality public policies, and we are sure that Lula’s government, democratically elected, will be able to articulate a collective process for a country with more dignity for its people,” the movement said in its press release.
La Via Campesina and its members condemned the eviction of 450 farm workers, many of them migrants, from El Walili in southern Spain. The Andalusian workers’ union (SOC-SAT) warned that if the workers lost their homes, they would also lose their jobs, since they had settled there for many years in order to access precarious jobs on the farms and greenhouses in the area. market, which supplies fruit and vegetables to many parts of Europe.
On to other news from around the world;
In Asia, the Korean Peasants’ League decried the growing corporatisation of agriculture and the national government’s enormous focus on the food tech industry at the expense of farmers and their livelihoods. They denounced the Ministry of Agriculture’s ‘Food Tech Industry Development Plan’ as a cover for allowing lab-grown food into the country. They denounced the failure to address the real problems facing farmers, such as falling prices.
A delegation of young peasants from La Via Campesina who attended the Global Forum on Food and Agriculture in Berlin in January also denounced the growing tendency of governments to turn to technocratic solutions. In their interventions, the campesino youth pointed out that sustainable food systems depend on the development of local agricultural innovations that are appropriate to a particular region or area, and on the ability to effectively communicate and transfer knowledge to those responsible for production.
In other news from Asia, in Thailand, the Northern Peasant Federation, a member of La Via Campesina, held a presentation on peasant rights violations in the country over the past decade. The presentations focused on the dispossession of forest land, the impact of large-scale extractive companies on peasant families, access to education in rural Thailand, labour rights issues and gender discrimination.
In Sri Lanka, MONLAR raised the issue of illegal deforestation near Nakolagane in the Kurunegala district. More than 5,400 acres of forest and nearby farmland are being cleared to make way for commercial crops. MONLAR and other environmental groups are very concerned about the potential for increased human-elephant conflict in this area in the near future.
Moving on to the Latin American region;
The Regional Peasants’ Forum was held in Panama on 23-24 January, with the participation of more than 40 people from peasant, indigenous and artisanal fisheries organisations from 13 countries in the region, as well as representatives of the International Fund for Agricultural Development – IFAD and allies.
In January, the youth articulation in the continent released a short film that captures the most important moments of the XVII (17th) Youth Camp of the Latin American Coordination of Campesino Organisations, CLOC-Via Campesina. Several dozen young people from different provinces of the country, as well as international delegates from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala and the United States, participated in this event last August.
In news from Africa, the National Coordination of Peasant Organisations of Mali (CNOP MALI), in collaboration with the Malian Association for Solidarity and Development (AMSD), has organised a “Bio-Weekend” at the AMSD headquarters in Kalaban Coro. The main objective of this activity is to promote a better understanding of issues related to the promotion and valuation of agroecological and organic products in the context of a sustainable food system.
Campaigners in Uganda have taken Kenya to the East African Court of Justice (ECJ) over its decision to allow the free use, import and cultivation of genetically modified crops, saying they pose potential risks to the region. Last October, Kenya’s cabinet lifted a 10-year ban on GMOs that had restricted open cultivation and imports, becoming the second country in Africa to do so.
In January, several members of La Via Campesina also attended the annual Oxford Real Farming Conference. A virtual exhibition space was also set up to allow participants to learn more about LVC and its peasant organisations, in particular their proposals and positions for a radical transformation of food systems based on agroecology, justice and solidarity. During the panel on “Food in a time of war”, La Via Campesina drew attention to the acute hunger caused by the many geopolitical conflicts that are disrupting global food distribution systems. The movement called on governments to pay attention to small farmers, who can provide food and ensure a country’s food self-sufficiency even in times of such acute crisis.
Before we close, here are the links to the various publications released in January 2023;
- UNDROP Thematic Booklet No. 3: “Peasants’ Dignified Lives and Livelihoods
- UNDROP Thematic Booklet No. 4: “Peasants as Political Subjects”
(Have we missed an important update? If so, please email the links to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will include them in the next issue. Only updates from La Via Campesina members will be included in this news wrap. For a full update on various initiatives from January 2023, please visit our website).
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