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

Bagnolet, 07 April 2023

The month of March witnessed a series of mobilizations by peasant and indigenous organizations, members of La Via Campesina worldwide. The movement’s call to carry out solidarity actions to mark the International Working Women’s Day met with a resounding response from its members. On a virtual wall, La Via Campesina recorded at least 68 solidarity actions that included street demonstrations, study sessions, workshops, seed fairs, and more – across all continents.

The Women Articulation of La Via Campesina also held its first international peasant women’s school in Mozambique that saw the participation of 70 rural women leaders from 39 countries spread across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Over the course of ten days at the school, hosted by LVC’s local member UNAC, the participants delved deeper into discussions about peasant and popular feminism, the current global context, the role of women in food sovereignty, the international campaign Stop Violence Against Women, the defense of peasant seeds, agroecology and peasant markets. A video report of the Peasant School and an interactive story about the #8M23 mobilizations will soon be available on the global website of La Via Campesina.

At the end of March, La Via Campesina also issued a call to all its members and allies to organize towards the International Day of Peasant Struggles on the 17th of April. The movement also informed its members, allies, and supporters of the upcoming 8th International Conference that is slated to take place in Nicaragua this November. As part of its call for mobilizations for April, LVC also published its official slogan for the 8th Conference: Faced with the Global Crises, we build Food Sovereignty to ensure a Future for Humanity!

While doing so, La Via Campesina emphasized that the precondition for such a future is an immediate and unconditional end to the ongoing criminalization and persecution of peasant movements and their leaders. This emphasis for an end to repression grew in relevance as, in recent months, social movements in Brazil, Palestine, Paraguay, Colombia, Mali, Ecuador, Spain, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South Korea, Kenya, Canada, Haiti, Guatemala, and Peru have alerted the world about the serious violations of the rights of the peasant and rural communities.

March saw further escalation in peasant struggles in many parts.

France is now witnessing large-scale demonstrations that express peoples’ agitation against an unpopular pension reform being imposed by the French State. While this is going on, Conferederation Paysanne and other social movements alerted about the French Government’s plan to build several mega water-grabbing basins across the country that pose a serious risk to peasant agriculture and water security.

Confederation Paysanne and others denounced these projects as an attempt to favor agribusiness interests; and took part in a public protest where 30,000 people demonstrated in Sainte-Soline, at the site of one of the mega-basins. But the protestors met with violent crackdowns by the cops, and over 200 people were injured and one person battling death in critical condition. La Via Campesina and its members have issued strong condemnation of the police actions and also denounced the authoritarian drift of the French State.

In Indonesia, Serikat Petani and other unions have denounced the government’s move to import nearly 2 million tonnes of rice, jeopardizing local peasant production. According to the SPI, before deciding on rice imports, the government must first improve the role, function, and workings of the procurement agency in carrying out its duties, including buying grain from peasants at fair prices and distributing it to the poor.

In Nepal, ANPFA was among the 10 peasant unions who held massive demonstrations in the national capital demanding an immediate resolution to rural debt and rising fertilizer prices. Many of the protesting farmers claim to have been cheated by microfinance companies that charge exorbitant interest rates.

In Paraguay, Organización de Lucha por la Tierra (OLT), pointed to the struggle for agrarian reform, land grabbing and attempts to criminalize the land occupations. OLT alerted that the land being usurped by agribusinesses and drug traffickers must be immediately returned to the people.

The National Peasant Federation (FNC) in Paraguay also held the 29th edition of the Peasant March, which gathered thousands of peasants and indigenous people in Asunción. The FNC pointed out that land concentration in Paraguay is the highest in the world and is the main cause of the lack of development of national industry, as well as the violence and the expulsion of thousands of young people and women to other countries for lack of opportunities.

The National Family Coalition’s newest report (in English) – Selling out the Delta – highlights the increasing speculative corporate farmland investment in the Mississippi Delta (southern region of the United States), and how the growth of corporate farmland ownership exacerbates barriers that farmers (especially black and other minority farmers) face accessing and maintaining land in the region.

In Palestine, LVC’s member organisations joined to commemorate the forty-seventh anniversary of the Eternal Land Day. Peasants movement in the Arab region and North Africa issued a statement supporting the Palestinian people’s right to sovereignty over their land and commons, calling for the lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

In Pakistan, the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee (PKRC) strongly condemned the agricultural land grab by the military. PKRC pointed out that at least 45,267 acres of land in three districts of the country were handed over to the Pakistan Army for ‘Corporate Agriculture Farming’ in a blatant violation of the rights of the small farmers and peasants.

The MST in Brazil also organised a series of activities part of the National Day for the Fight of Landless Women. During March, they mobilized 23 states throughout the country, with educational camps, land occupations, solidarity actions with food and blood donation, fairs with agrarian reform products, tree planting, training spaces and debates, and occupied the streets of the country, with marches in partnership with popular urban and rural movements and organizations.

For its part, the Movement of those affected by dams (MAB) and allies handed over to the Government of São Paulo a guideline with guidelines to meet the demands of the populations affected by dams, floods, and landslides in the state.

In Colombia, FENSUAGRO has communicated about several progressive steps being taken in the country that recognize the rights of peasant and indigenous communities, as well as urban and rural workers. FENSUAGRO participated in a multi-actor dialogue space that took place on March 29th oin the country’s capital, to discuss proposals for agroecology policy in Colombia.

In Zimbabwe, Shashe School of Agroecology run by LVC’s member organization ZIMSOFF hosted officials from the FAO for a learning exchange on production of millets and agroecology. 2023 is the UN International Year for Millets, Zimbabwe was honored to host FAO and Plant Treaty delegates to deliberate on how to increase the productivity of millets as we celebrate the year of millets.

In Italy, ARI joined a peasant seed exchange and fair that took place at Casa delle Sementi Seed Mill in the Bormida Valley. The participants had a day full of exchanges, peasant seeds, transversal knowledge, and awareness of rural biodiversity.

In the UK, the Land Workers Alliance and its partners have developed a curriculum for agroecological horticulture. This new curriculum covers everything that someone new to the sector should expect to learn in their first season on the land.

In Sweden, NOrdBruk held a meeting with its members in the region and spoke about, among other things, ECVC’s new “land directive,” which contains proposals for legislation to promote access to land and prevent land grabbing in the EU.

In March, La Via Campesina received the painful news of the passing of two of its popular peasant leaders, Dick Olela of the Kenyan Peasant League and Jimmy Tadeo of Paragos, Philippines. Their deaths have left a void that is difficult to fill, but their legacy of individual and collective struggle will undoubtedly inspire generations to come to continue fighting for agrarian reform and food sovereignty.

(Have we missed an important update? If so, you can email the links to communications@viacampesina.org, which we will include in the next edition. Only updates from La Via Campesina members will be part of this news wrap. For a thorough update of different initiatives from March 2023, visit our website )

Did you miss the previous editions of our news wrap? Find it here

An abridged version of our Monthly News Wrap is also available as Podcast on Anchor FM and Spotify.