2024 | April Newswrap: Updates from Member Organizations Worldwide

In the history of peasant struggles, April has been a unifying month of peasant resistance and mobilization around the world. Every year on 17 April, we commemorate the resistance of 21 Brazilian peasants who were brutally gunned down defending their land in 1996 in what became known as the El Dorado Dos Carajás massacre. Since then, La Via Campesina has marked this day as the International Day of Peasant Struggles to advance our quest for dignity, social justice and food sovereignty in the midst of global crises. From the inception of the new UN Working Group for the Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), aimed at translating its principles into concrete measures safeguarding peasants’ rights in national legislation, to the establishment of a novel framework for global agricultural trade regulating markets to curb abuses and disparities while ensuring equitable incomes and prices for the world’s nourishers, the peasant voice shines like a beacon of hope. Moreover, it champions peasant agroecology as a remedy for climate change. In our effort to highlight these struggles, we share some notable actions taken by our member organizations worldwide.

In a webinar in April, the UAWC (Union of Agricultural Work Committees of Palestine), with the participation of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, exposed how Israel’s attacks, with over 70,000 tons of explosives, have targeted the agricultural sector. This has impacted food sources and undermined food sovereignty, essential for the Palestinians’ survival.

In Tunisia, the persecution and criminalization of peasants who in 2021 reclaimed lands illegally exploited by investors in Siliana persist. On April 17, summoned for new judicial proceedings, peasants seized the opportunity to claim their right to land, as enshrined in the UNDROP, during a demonstration outside the courts.

Moving on to news from South America, in Argentina, the national peasant and indigenous movement Somos Tierra reported a 90% increase in food prices under Milei’s management, without regulation for agribusiness and distribution giants. They denounce Argentinian government’s renewed push to join the UPOV-91 agreement, which promotes market concentration of seed companies like Bayer-Monsanto, also benefiting from reduced tariffs for the import of herbicides such as glyphosate.

In Brazil, the MST kicked off our month of peasant struggles with land occupations nationwide. They carried out 24 occupations in 11 states, mobilizing over 20 thousand Landless Families, demanding Agrarian Reform in a context of budget cuts for land access and basic rights.

On April 17, peasants in Honduras gathered at the National Congress in Tegucigalpa, in the form of a food fair, to demand an end to criminalization and violent evictions, as well as real access to land and financial support. In 2023 alone, 37 evictions were reported, mostly harming companies and peasant cooperatives. They also demanded the annulment of the Free Trade Agreement with the US due to unfair competition generated by the entry of tariff-free products.

In a new episode of “La Voz de La Via Campesina” in El Salvador, peasants denounced the land, seed, and water grabbing by mega-projects. In areas like Valle el Ángel and San José de Villanueva, the real estate development of mega-residential areas jeopardizes access to water in productive areas due to intensive use of the resource for commercial purposes. These projects highlight the peasant struggle against a type of development that exceeds the territory’s capacities, undermining sustainability and impoverishing local communities.

In Caribbean news, on April 25, in Haiti, a presidential council with 7 political representatives and 2 civilian observers was sworn in to establish a transitional government towards elections in two years. This period, marked by insecurity due to illegal arms trafficking, demands pacifying the nation, affected by gang violence, and revitalizing a battered economy, addressing growing food insecurity. La Via Campesina in Haiti hopes for a government that supports food production and strengthens their political participation.

The Boricuá Organization of Puerto Rico held a panel on peasant agroecology as a transformative educational process. They highlighted how agroecology strengthens communities and allows peasants to remain and protect their territories, ensuring quality food. Based on their experiences on farms and agroecology schools, they recognized their importance for integrating natural and social elements, as well as recovering ancestral knowledge and technologies in pursuit of food sovereignty, social, and climate justice.

In South Asia, on the occasion of International Peasants’ Day, the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee -PKRC – organized a peasants rally at Lakhi Gulam Shah, district Shikar Pur, Sindh province. They demanded better prices for farm produces and extended solidarity to similar protests by farmers worldwide. The PKRC also extended solidarity to the suffering people of Gaza who face extreme violence and starvation as the genocidal assault on them continues with impunity.

The Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF) held a demonstration by organising the farm labourers in Gazipur to mark the International Day of Peasant Struggles calling for better wages and working conditions. BAFLF has been leading struggles across the country to regularize farm workers who are employed at the state-run farm institutes.

In Southeast and East Asia, the Northern Peasants Federation (NPF) in Thailand held a demonstration in April to highlight several overlapping community land issues with the governor in Phrae Province. According to the NPF, Phrae Province’s Treasury officials falsely announced the cancellation of community land titles to Ban San Klang villagers, prompting protests. Villagers continue to resist coerced land leasing, demanding fair treatment and access to basic infrastructure.

In April, the Japanese family farmers’ movement, Nouminren, issued a cautionary statement regarding ongoing efforts to amend the Agricultural Act. Peasant unions voiced concerns that these amendments were being rushed through without adequate deliberation or consultation. On April 17th, they staged a protest near the House of Representatives. Despite these protests, on April 19th, the Japanese government passed a bill in the Lower House to revise the basic law on food, agriculture, and rural areas, ostensibly to enhance food security amidst supply disruptions resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war.

Turning to news from Southern and Eastern Africa, in Tanzania, about 21 local MVIWATA networks in Ruvuma, Njombe, Iringa, Morogoro, Dodoma, Shinyanga, Simiyu, Geita and Mtwara mobilized on April 17th and held dialogues on peasant struggles in their villages. Other actions done included tree planting in degraded areas, setting and learning on agroecological demonstration plots, free health clinics, etc.

In Uganda, ESAFF Uganda organized an event on April 17th to train local government leaders on learning about the UNDROP. This is initiative is part of the organisation’s campaign for UNDROP domestication by the national government.

In Central and West Africa, CNOP-Mali organized community workshops in April as part of phase II of the project to support land and forest tenure security through land commissions, mechanisms tasked with resolving disputes between rural communities. These workshops, held in collaboration with AOPP regional of Koulikoro, aimed to share information about the project and raise awareness among stakeholders about the diversity of ways to manage and prevent land and natural resource conflicts through such a mechanism.

In Togo, the Togolese Coordination of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations (CTOP TOGO) organized from 4 to 19 April awareness-raising sessions in all the country’s prefectures to mobilise key players in the maize, rice, market gardening and poultry sectors. These activities aimed to inform value chain stakeholders about the activities and benefits offered by Support Project for the Incentive Mechanism for Agricultural Financing based on Risk Sharing (ProMIFA), while at the same time arousing their interest and commitment to ensuring the success of the project.

Moving on to news from Europe, in Belgium, the peasant movement protested against the Ether Energy project, which seeks to install 22,000 solar panels on 30 hectares of agricultural land. The protest saw the participation of 150 people, including farmers and citizens, demanding a moratorium on agrivoltaics in Wallonia and regulation of the agricultural market. Protesters planted potatoes in the threatened area and warned about the dangers of agricultural land grabbing for solar panel installation.

In Germany, social organizations in Brandenburg held a meeting commemorating the International Day of Peasant Struggles, along with workers from three collective peasant farms. During the event, the history of this day of action was recalled, highlighting that in recent months every day has been an April 17th. “Peasants resist daily, not only during farmers’ protests. They oppose the logic of unlimited growth and defend their right to exist in society,” said a representative of AbL, who concluded his speech with a call to stay on the land and resist daily.

If there are any important updates that we have missed, please send the links to communications@viacampesina.org so that we can include them in the next edition. We only include updates from La Via Campesina members. For a comprehensive update on various initiatives from April 2024, please visit our website. You can also find the previous editions of our news wrap on our website. In addition, condensed versions of our newswrap are accessible as a podcast on Spotify.