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

This month, La Via Campesina expressed its deep sadness and solidarity following the tragic earthquake that struck Morocco and Storm Daniel with its monstrous floods that have deeply devastated Libya, particularly the city of Derna, costing thousands of lives and causing great losses to peasants who have lost their land and livelihoods. This underscores the importance of proactive government action in the face of natural disasters and the global climate crisis, as well as the need to think more deeply about the fate of humanity in the absence of serious government interaction in the face of environmental crises.

This month, LVC also marked the International Day of Action against the WTO and free trade agreements on 10th September 2023 with several actions. The global movement also attended the 54th session of the Human Rights Council with CETIM to denounce the sanctions against Niger and to defend the creation of an international mechanism to monitor the rights of peasants, in the form of a UN special procedure.

There have also been numerous struggles, actions, and training courses led by La Via Campesina members in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, with many preparations underway for our 8th Conference, which will take place in December 2023.

La Via Campesina marked the 20th anniversary of the martyrdom of Lee Kyun Hae at the WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, with a series of solidarity actions around the world. Additionally, in South Korea, a public forum was organized by the Korean Peasant League and other peasant organizations, in the presence of members of parliament, to assess the devastating impact of the WTO and trade liberalization on the country’s peasantry.

In Bangladesh, a significant victory after a long struggle since 2001 by the Bangladesh Federation of Agricultural Workers (BAFLF) to organize agricultural workers, followed by a national strike this month, has forced the government to change the status of precarious workers employed on Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation farms to permanent positions. This breakthrough is the result of an ongoing struggle by agricultural workers.

In India, the Bhartiya Kisan Union organized a massive rally in the city of Lucknow to protest the non-payment of over Rs. 5,000 crores in sugarcane arrears, the broken promise to provide free electricity to farmers, and the legal guarantee of the minimum purchase price. At the same time, sit-ins organized by sugarcane farmers took place over several weeks in many districts of the State of UP.

In Thailand, the Assembly of the Poor (AoP) drew attention to the communities affected by the floods in Chaiyaphum province, claiming that the closure of the gates of the Pong Khun Phet dam had worsened the situation rather than improved it, causing enormous damage to the inhabitants of the catchment areas and to the region’s thriving biodiversity.

On 24 September, Serikat Petani Indonesia organized a series of actions across Indonesia to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the National Peasants’ Day, with the theme “Peasants’ political struggle for agrarian reform for a prosperous nation”. Henry Saraih, the chairman, while addressing the gathering at the SPI, pointed out that despite global rice prices reaching a 15-year high in August, the country’s peasantry have not benefited.

In the West and Central Africa region, in Niger, on 27th September, La Via Campesina organized a webinar in collaboration with the Plateforme Paysanne du Niger to discuss the impact of sanctions on the food and political sovereignty of the Nigerien population. Members of LVC and their allies took part in the discussions and expressed their solidarity with the Niger farmers.

Meanwhile, in Mali, CNOP Mali participated in a workshop to discuss the Agricultural Sector Investment Programming Law (LPISA in French), held at the International Training Centre for Peasant-Nyéléni Agroecology in Selingué (CIFAN in French). The workshop brought together more than 60 delegates from various agricultural institutions to facilitate stakeholders in the agricultural sector taking the LPISA report on board and ensure greater inclusivity in the drafting process.

The Togolese Coordination of Peasant Organisations and Farmers (CTOP in French) in Togo also participated in the approval of three important studies on the inventory and mapping of the coconut industry and the palm oil value chain, the development plan for the coconut industry, and the feasibility study for the establishment of a honey ESOP in the maritime region. CTOP is involved in the implementation of the project “Strengthening the resilience to climate change of coastal communities in Togo” (R4C-Togo), an important initiative to understand the agricultural sectors in the future of agriculture and rural development.

In Casamance, Senegal, the Conseil National de Concertation et de Coopération des Ruraux (CNCR) is expressing its vision of the future by reforesting more than 8 hectares of mangroves. At the same time, on 17th and 18th September, in the villages of Kartiack and Thiobon in the department of Bignona, young people and women worked together to regenerate the mangroves, reflecting their commitment as citizens and their desire to contribute to the restoration of biodiversity.

In the Southern and Eastern Africa region, in Mozambique, farmers are demanding a revision of the land law of 1997. At its ordinary general assembly in 2023, the National Farmers’ Union (UNAC) discussed and proposed general guidelines for contributing to the process of revising the land law of 1997.

In Kenya, members of the Kenyan Peasants League have called on the Kenyan government not to impose a tax on their agricultural produce, as this would demoralize farmers who sell their produce through agricultural cooperatives and discourage farming. The government plans to increase the tax on agricultural products sold through cooperatives and other organizations from 3% to 5%.

In Tanzania, MVIWATA organized training on leadership and farmers’ rights for over 150 farmers’ leaders and promoters from the Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya, Songwe, Ruvuma, and Mtwara regions. Among the issues discussed were farmers’ seeds and preparations for the #mviwata30 year anniversary.

In the Caribbean region, the 4th Peralta Puede Municipal Fair was held on 2nd September in the municipality of Peralta in the province of Azua in the Dominican Republic. This is a space for exchange between producers and the community, encouraging peasants’ markets and promoting agroecology.

In Haiti, on 22nd September, a local delegation from La Via Campesina took part in a solidarity demonstration in the northeastern border area with the Dominican Republic, following the decision by Dominican President Luis Abinader to close the border between the two countries. The aim of the demonstration was to support the region’s farmers, who depend on the ecosystem in the area, and to denounce this decision, which violates many families’ right to food sovereignty.

In Guatemala, the Peasant Unity Committee (CUC in Spanish) organized an exciting community communication training process for the second time. This initiative took place in collaboration with the Chiviricuarta collective and Mujeres Transformando el Mundo (MTM), with the aim of empowering young people in the field of community communication.

In Honduras, the Women’s Articulation organized a training course aimed at strengthening the leadership of rural women and promoting technical training and political education within the peasant and indigenous organizations of the Women’s Articulation as a whole, with a particular focus on peasant and popular feminism.

In South America, members of the Brazilian movement Levante Popular da Juventude protested in front of the US embassy in Rio de Janeiro against the US blockade and joined the #LetCubaLive campaign to collect signatures to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Additionally, from 14th to 17th September, Via Campesina Brazil organized the third seminar on sexual diversity and gender identity at the Florestan Fernandes National School (ENFF) in Guararema (SP), with the aim of discussing issues related to the fight against LGBTI+phobia and organizing debates in the grassroots organizations that make up La Via Campesina.

In Peru, indigenous women have made a major contribution to the struggles of their peoples in the face of colonial domination, preserving diverse cultures, ancestral practices, and their mother tongues. However, they face many difficulties in their lives, including discrimination and marginalization because of their ethnic origin and gender, insufficient access to health and education services, limited opportunities in the labor market, low political participation, and domestic violence, among others.

In Austria, ÖBV-Via Campesina joined a massive demonstration held on 15th September, with tens of thousands of people calling for a summit on climate disasters. The participants stressed that farmers are the most affected by the multiple environmental crises and called for an immediate change in the policies exacerbating this crisis.

In France, a rally of nearly 3,000 people, with the participation of the Confédération Paysanne, as well as four trade unions (CGT, Solidaires, and FSU), alongside political organizations, volunteer organizations, and activists, came together on 8th September to fight against the mega-basins and express their unwavering support for the nine defendants and their collective commitment to defending freedoms and water as a common good. This led to the resumption of the trial of the opponents of the mega-basins on 28th November after a demonstration of amateurism by the prosecution.

In the Basque Country, a delegation of women farmers from the National Farmers’ Union of Mozambique organized a meeting with Baserritarra women, who are cattle breeders, farmers, and shepherds belonging to the EHNE Bizkaia union. This intense 8-day activity enabled them to exchange knowledge on agroecology, production methods, and trade. More importantly, they were able to share their experiences of organizing and building peasant Peasant and Popular Feminism.

In Morocco, following a catastrophic earthquake, the majority of those affected are marginalized peasant workers, who have historically been neglected and marginalized. FNSA, the local LVC member in the country, informs that the villages have been completely devastated, and peasant land, which represents their livelihood, has also been affected. The current situation will further exacerbate the existing challenges that rural communities face, such as migration, the disappearance of agricultural tracks, rising unemployment, and deepening poverty.

In Tunisia, as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état in Chile, in memory of Popular Unity and its socialist leader, President Salvador Allende, a meeting entitled “THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PEOPLE – FROM CHILE TO TUNISIA” was held. The organization Million Rural Women and the Landless used the occasion to express its commitment to the struggle for social justice, agrarian reform, equality, and food sovereignty, including energy sovereignty and national sovereignty on behalf of La Via Campesina, while also expressing the dream of national liberation from colonialism and imperialism.

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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