2023 | July News Wrap: Highlights from La Via Campesina Members Worldwide

For La Via Campesina, July has been a month of global mobilisations in defence of peasant rights and a clear denunciation of corporate food systems and the Free Trade Agreements that facilitate them. It has also been a month of a lot of exchange and training, focused on preparing for the 8th International Conference (#8ConfLVC) and promoting Peasant Agroecology.

This month, La Via Campesina and its members joined global mobilisations to denounce that the UN Food Systems Summit+2, held in Rome on 25th – 26th July, further boosts industrial and corporate food systems. “In these times of growing hunger and multiple crises, it is more urgent than ever that governments and the UN listen to us,” commented one LVC leader, who also called for a change in direction of these international policies in favour of Food Sovereignty, human rights and Peasant Agroecology. The South and Southeast Asia region also joined in these mass actions, organising a virtual meeting called “Rise Against Corporate Food Systems” in which peasant leaders from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Indonesia participated.

Also from the United States, the National Farmworker Family Coalition joined the mobilisations by issuing a strong statement against the corporate power that their country has at the global level and also demanding attention and recognition of peasant agriculture and the existence of millions of peasants in the US.

Also, concerned about the EU-MERCOSUR agreement and the UN Food Systems Summit, a large delegation of CNA from Portugal and the MST from Brazil met in Coimbra to strengthen their relationship and promote peasant agriculture. They addressed the crisis of prices and access to land, denouncing the criminalisation of peasants and emphasising the struggle for the implementation of UNDROP and Food Sovereignty. This action represents the first steps of commitment by the members of the European Coordination of La Via Campesina to join the actions against the EU-Mercosur, EU-Mexico and EU-Chile trade (and investment) agreements.

Many demonstrations were also felt strongly around the Asian continent. In Seoul, the Korean Peasant League joined hundreds of workers in a public demonstration against another state crackdown on trade unions and farmers’ organisations. Farmers’ organisations in the country, including the KPL, have long been protesting against the rising cost of fertiliser and feed, while the price of their crops continues to fall. The Korean Peasants League has blamed the decision to import rice as one of the main reasons for the collapse of prices in local markets. Meanwhile, in Thailand, the Assembly of the Poor held a demonstration against the construction of the Tha Sae dam in Champon province. About 700 farming households will be affected. The Assembly of the Poor has insisted that what is needed to solve the water crisis is better water management, not big dams.

In the Americas, mobilisations to defend peasant rights also continued. In Peru, the national organisations Confederación Campesina del Perú – CCP, FENMUCARINAP and Confederación Nacional Agraria – CNA joined the national mobilisations called Tercera Toma de Lima to denounce the murder of more than 60 people, mainly peasants and indigenous people, who at the beginning of this year protested against the imposition of the government of Dina Boluarte. So far, demonstrations continue throughout the country demanding the resignation of the current president.

Likewise, in Guatemala, the Committee of Peasant Unity – CUC, denounced in a press conference the constant judicial and extra-judicial evictions that families from various peasant communities in the country are experiencing. Representatives of the organisation demanded that the government act quickly to protect peasant life and production, as this situation is leading to forced displacements, as well as serious Human Rights violations.

In Chile, in the Ñuble region, on the occasion of the Day of the Peasant, the Ranquil Confederation organised a discussion on Popular Unity and the Chilean countryside.

Within the movement, training remains a constant exercise. The Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC) – La Via Campesina, started an internal training process to prepare its members for the movement’s 8th Conference. This important meeting will take place in December in Colombia. In El Salvador, the Federation of Agrarian Reform Cooperatives of the Central Region – FECORASEN, intensified its work in the development of Youth Circles with the objective of strengthening the capacities of peasant and indigenous youth.

In Germany, the farmers’ organisation ABL urged the German Minister of Agriculture and the German Ministry of Life to urgently reject the EU Commission’s proposal for a law on genetic engineering. The proposal seeks to relax the rules for old and new genetic engineering, which would be a deregulation of existing rules and would put GM-free agriculture and food production at risk. German farmers have been concerned about their government’s influence on EU policies.

The Arab region of North Africa issued a report outlining the urgent situation in Sudan. For the past four months, the people have been engulfed in clashes between the army and quick support forces. Farmers fear that this threatens food production and aggravates poverty and hunger in the country. They have also warned of the severe financial crisis they are facing because of the conflict, with a lack of bank loans and high prices for essential inputs such as fertilisers, seeds and fuel. The consequences of the war have also affected imports of food and raw materials, and foreign aid for farmers and vulnerable populations in the country are being blocked.

In Palestine, during 2023, a vast tract of land of 44,595 dunams, equivalent to 2,380 km2 of the West Bank, was seized under measures of colonialism. This seizure also resulted in the felling and uprooting of 2961 trees, causing significant damage to the environment and to the livelihoods of Palestinians. Also the Nablus governorate recorded a total of 470 settler attacks according to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) data and other assaults include 576 attacks on property, 287 on citizens, 140 on agricultural crops, and 116 other attacks aimed at maintaining control over Palestinian land. The persistence of these assaults raises major concerns about the rights and security of Palestinians, calling for a just and lasting resolution to end these ongoing violations.

In Morocco, workers at the COPAG agricultural cooperative in Rabat mobilised to defend their rights, supported by our member organisation, the FNSA, and the Moroccan Labour Union. Together, they organised protests to denounce attacks on their trade union activity, to demand an end to arbitrary transfers, to improve their working conditions and to obtain a dignified life. They demand that their right to unionise be respected and are willing to do so constructively and peacefully. Their struggle goes beyond COPAG and symbolises the hope for change for the benefit of the country’s working class. Workers need to live in dignity as workers and union activists.

In this month, several activities also took place to commemorate the peasant struggles. In Haiti, the organisation Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen commemorated 36 years since the massacre that took the lives of 139 peasants, who at the time were part of the mobilisations against the regime of Henry Nanphy and the oligarchy of the country. These murders marked an important milestone in the peasant struggles for agrarian reform and against the exploitation of the peasantry in the mostly foreign plantations. A painful but vindicating precedent that forms part of the anti-colonial struggle of the Haitian people.

In Indonesia, the Serikat Petani Indonesia – SPI – celebrated its 25th anniversary this month with public forums and seminars. The union also invited the Minister of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises to a harvest where SPI members grow rice using agro-ecological methods.

The Bangladesh Agricultural Workers Federation (BAFLF) brought farmers and agricultural labourers together in and around Gazipur to demand better wages and regularisation of those working as contract labourers on government-run research farms such as the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation, Bangladesh Rice Institute, Jute Research Institute and Wheat and Maize Research Institute.

In Mali, a delegation of women from the Coordination of Peasant Organisations (CNOP Mali) participated in the Forum “Women, economy and resistance”, exhibiting the variety of dairy products, fruits, seeds in natural and processed states, which they themselves produce. The peasant organisation considers this type of activity to be necessary to raise awareness about the enormous contribution that West Africa makes to the Food Sovereignty of the world.

In Senegal, the Conseil National de Concertation de la Coopération Rurale (CNRC) worked with civil society organisations to advance the statutes and recognition of agricultural professions. It also discussed the social protection rights of those engaged in rural work or family farming, a series of updates and challenges with the country’s existing laws.

The Land Worker’s Alliance – an alliance of farmers, foresters and rural workers in the UK – launched the book, “With the Land”, on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. The book explores what it means to work with land and celebrates what can be achieved through collective action. Earlier this month, the organisation also released the report, “Debt, Migration and Exploitation”, which exposes systemic reasons for the exploitation of migrants in the country, such as seasonal fruit and vegetable pickers.

Finally, Peasant Agroecology remains the beacon of hope for peasants in many parts of the world. In Tanzania, the organisation MVIWATA, on the occasion of the upcoming National Peasants’ Day celebrations, invited the general public to be part of learning and sharing activities on Agroecology, as well as promoting the trade of honey, rice, local seeds, juices, fruits and vegetables agroecological products that they themselves produce.

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 July 2023, please visit our website. You can also find the previous editions of our news wrap on our website.