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

The May edition of the news wrap carries updates about global solidarity actions, 30th year anniversary celebrations, land rights advocacy, webinars, and fairs held by LVC members.

On the 1st of May, several members of La Via Campesina marked International Workers’ Day by organizing public demonstrations and releasing statements of solidarity. In Bogota, the International Coordination Committee (ICC) of La Via Campesina, which had its scheduled bi-annual meeting in Colombia, also joined the global solidarity actions by participating in a national mobilization organized by FENSUAGRO and other organization members.

Later in the week, during the bi-annual meeting, the ICC assessed the preparations for the upcoming 8th International Conference, planned to be held in Colombia later this year. As part of their preparations, the Committee initiated a process to define the strategic areas of focus for the global peasant movement over the next four years. The ICC members also visited the Instituto Agroecológico Latinoamericano María Cano (IALA Maria Cano), where they discussed how the organizational and peasant process strengthens the consolidation of an Agrarian Reform for the territories.

Furthermore, in Bogota, an international delegation from La Via Campesina attended a public forum on the peace process in Colombia. LVC serves as an observer of the Peace Treaty alongside other international institutions. The participating delegates praised the current administration’s political commitment to achieving peace and expressed their full support for the establishment of an Agrarian Court in Colombia.

On May 15, LVC celebrated its 30th anniversary with events that included a visit to its founding site in Mons, Belgium, and a hybrid event in Brussels that was streamed live on LVC’s social networks. The event saw the active participation of prominent peasant leaders from around the world who reflected on and honored the remarkable achievements and challenges of La Via Campesina’s struggles for food sovereignty.

In other news, in May, LVC members in Ecuador, Palestine, Pakistan, and Haiti raised concerns about the worsening political climate in their respective countries. In Ecuador, movement members voiced their opposition to the dissolution of democratic institutions. In Palestine, LVC members and several international bodies condemned the Israeli aggression, which involved four days of relentless bombing in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of 13 people and injuries to several others. La Via Campesina also expressed solidarity with the peasants and workers of Haiti, who are currently grappling with a political and economic crisis in their country. You can find these statements of solidarity here.

In Asia, the Indonesian Peasants’ Union (SPI) organized a webinar in May to alert about the ongoing efforts to harmonize seed and farm laws in the country, to align them with the highly controversial UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants). SPI informed that certain conditions outlined in the European Union’s Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) are pressuring the country to align its laws with UPOV.

In Vietnam, the Vietnam Farmers’ Union released a concise report on the operations and impact of the Farmers Supporting Centers run by the Union. Across the country, the union manages one national center and 51 provincial centers, where they provide various extension services such as seed distribution, animal feeds, agricultural materials, and more.

In Thailand, as a new government assumes power, the Northern Peasants Federation issued a public statement calling for a comprehensive review of the land and forest rights policy in the country to make it more favorable to peasant and indigenous communities. Additionally, the Assembly of the Poor in Thailand, also an LVC member, informed us about an ongoing land dispute between the Univanich Palm Oil Company and the peasant-indigenous peoples of Krabi province. The court has ordered a fact-finding mission to investigate the case of land grabbing.

In the Philippines, the KMP shared news about the resolution of a decades-old land dispute in Hacienda Tinang, Concepcion, Tarlac. KMP stated that after three decades of struggle, the Department of Agrarian Reform will redistribute 450 land titles to peasant families in the region. Sugar plantations, including those in this region, were exempt from the land reform code due to the Philippines’ desire to maintain its US sugar quotas. The new resolution aims to correct this injustice.

In Sri Lanka, MONLAR organized a training exchange on peasant cooperatives in May. MONLAR hosted teams from Myanmar, Lebanon, and Bangladesh at the EcoAPE Cooperative society, which brings together peasant agroecological products from across the country.

In Western Africa, CNOP in Mali also organized a training session in agroecology at the Nyéléni International Training Center for Agricultural Agroecology. In addition to theories around agroecological practices in the country, the training also focused on practical aspects such as the preparation of solid and liquid compost and solutions for natural treatment.

In Tanzania, members of MVIWATA from Kongwa District also conducted a peasant to peasant exchange at the Mange SACCO cooperative in Kiteto District. In Uganda, ESAFF also organized an exchange in which members of the Otubet community’s agroecology school conducted training in the preparation of organic pesticides using locally available materials in their communities. Peasant to peasant exchanges such as these are an important aspect of La Via Campesina’s global strategy to promote peasant agroecological practices everywhere.

The Southern and Eastern Africa region of LVC hosted a Continental Seminar on peasants’ rights in May. Thirty-two La Via Campesina delegates from over 15 African countries were in Harare from 9 to 11 May 2023, attending the Seminar. The seminar aimed to promote a collective understanding of the current trends within the continent regarding peasant rights and strategize how to popularize and use the UNDROP to ensure the successful realization of peasant rights. The delegates also visited Fambidzanai Training Centre (Permaculture centre), where they had the opportunity to learn about some of the agroecological practices being promoted by the centre.

Soon after the Seminar, from 13 to 15 May 2023, ZIMSOFF, the local member of La Via Campesina, also hosted the continental meeting of peasant youth, with 16 Youth delegates from 15 African countries participating. The meeting provided a platform for the youths to discuss the various issues affecting them, internal coordination issues following the disruption of their functioning/processes by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to prepare inputs for the Youth Assembly of La Via Campesina, which will be held just before the LVC 8th International Conference in Bogota, Colombia.

The FNSA in Morocco held its ninth national conference and organized an intellectual symposium in May that focused on Moroccan state policies in the agricultural and marine fisheries sectors and the challenges of ensuring food sovereignty.

In news coming from Latin America, the MST in Brazil organized its annual National Agrarian Reform Fair at Água Branca Park in São Paulo. Over four days, more than 560 tons of 1,730 different types of products were brought to São Paulo by 1,700 vendors from all over Brazil and sold to more than 320 thousand people. These products were all produced by settled families from the agrarian reform who obtained their land through the struggle organized by the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST). For the first time in its history, the fair received delegations and products from Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, Palestine, Congo-Brazzaville, and Norway. During the four days, members of the foreign delegations sold their products and participated in panel discussions.

In Puerto Rico, LVC member BORICUÁ held a community workshop on people-led small-scale technology solutions and repair for farms. In addition to conducting a political analysis of the global digitalization drive, the workshop focused on DIY techniques, such as assembling, maintenance, and repair of a small-unit solar system to meet the essential needs of the home, farm, plot, or garden.

In Panama, UCP Panama held a people’s forum against mining and corporate land grab. They conducted this forum on May 15, also to mark the 120th death anniversary of the legendary peasant revolutionary and national icon, General Victoriano Lorenzo.

In Guatemala, Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC) took part in a public demonstration to mark the Panzós Alta Verapaz massacre of peasants in 1978, demanding justice for the victims’ families.

In Cuba, ANAP celebrated the 64th anniversary of the agrarian land reform that eliminated latifundios — large scale private ownerships — and redistributed properties via titles to the workers who previously labored on those lands. Almost 40% of arable land was removed from foreign owners and corporations to the state, which then distributed these lands to farmers and agricultural workers.

In Honduras, La Via Campesina’s Women Articulation in the country held a two day meeting in May, to evaluate and update advocacy strategies to demand economic, social and cultural rights of peasant and indigenous women.

In Europe, the public protest against the EU-Mercosur and CETA trade agreement found its echo at the National Committee of the Confederation Paysanne, where participating peasants highlighted the negative impact on prices, social conditions, peasants’ rights, food sovereignty, biodiversity, and climate on peasant communities on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Switzerland, the Committee for the Right to Food, which includes LVC member Uniterre, launched its campaign to include the right to food in the Geneva Constitution in the next votes on June 18. The campaigners are calling for peasant-friendly public policies on food and ensuring access to adequate food.

In Italy, AIAB expressed solidarity with those affected by catastrophic flooding in Emilia-Romagna. In its communique, AIAB emphasized the importance of rethinking hydrogeological management, agriculture, and the importance of agroecological farming in maintaining water and hydrogeological stability in rural and peri-urban areas.

The Land Workers’ Alliance in the UK also released a new report in May showcasing twelve examples of ecological forestry and woodland businesses across the UK in Scotland, Wales, and England. The report provides evidence and case studies to prove that small to medium-scale ecological and regenerative forestry enterprises in the UK are not only economically viable but also providing important employment opportunities, benefiting and engaging with local communities, and providing numerous benefits to forest ecosystems and wildlife habitats.

That’s all the news we’ve collected from our members this month. Before you sign off, check out the fifth and final part of the training module we are releasing on seeds. The last module focused on the main governance spaces and international legal instruments related to the peasants’ right to seeds.

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 May 2023, please visit our website. You can also find the previous editions of our news wrap on our website. Additionally, an abridged version of our News Wrap will soon be available as a Podcast on Spotify.