We, the Via Campesina, a global movement of rural women, peasant and small-scale farmers, agriculture workers and indigenous peoples’ organizations, from all the regions of the world (Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa) have gathered near Bangalore, India in the 3rd International Assembly to confirm our determination to defend our cultures and our rights. More than 100 delegates from 40 countries representing hundreds of peasant organizations and millions of peasant families met from October 3 – 6, 2000. We are united in our commitment to confront and defeat the global agenda of neoliberalism. The negative impacts of globalization are acute and tragic in the
countryside. The imposition of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and regional trade agreements is destroying our livelihoods, our cultures and the natural environment. We cannot, and we will not, tolerate the injustice and destruction these policies are causing. Our struggle is historic, dynamic and uncompromising.
The forced liberalization of trade in agricultural products across regions and around the world is resulting in disastrously low prices for many of the foods we produce. As cheap food imports flood local markets, peasant and farm families can no longer produce food for their own families and communities and are driven from the land. These unfair trade arrangements are destroying rural communities and cultures by imposing new eating patterns everywhere in the world. Local and traditional foods are being replaced by low priced, often poorer quality, imported foodstuffs. Food is a key part of culture, and the neoliberal agenda is destroying the very basis of our lives and cultures. We do not accept the hunger and displacement. We demand food sovereignty, which means the right to produce our own food.
The massive movement of food around the world is forcing the increased movement of people. The destruction of local economies is increasing poverty and forcing the displacement of millions of people in search of land or jobs. Whether it is Mexican peasants and workers crossing into the U.S.A. or northern Africans moving to Spain, the root causes of these population displacements are the unjust economic and social order imposed by the neoliberal agenda. The forced movements of peasants within countries, such as the displacement of thousands of peasants within India, due to both manmade and natural disasters, is equally devastating. These migrations destabilize communities, leading to increased violence, ethnic conflicts and insecurity everywhere. Uprooted, migrant peoples, particularly women, are vulnerable to terrible exploitation and abuse.
We denounce the forced displacement of peasants and demand an end to the brutal military operations which are being used to suppress peoples who seek justice. The criminalization of those who organize for more just conditions must be stopped.
We denounce the policies of the World Bank, the IMF and other international institutions which fraudulantly implement so-called ‘rural development policies’ that are really designed to rob us of our common heritage – land, water, and genetic resources. We are not fooled by the program to privatize land and water as a way of getting investment and development. Our experiences teach us that the privatization of land is leading to more debt, more hunger and more injustice for peasant families. We call for genuine and just agrarian reform.
The patenting of life forms, which gives private ownership and control over genetic resources and even human genes, is absolutely unacceptable. We will not cede the ownership of our common heritage and the basis of all of our lives to the transnational corporate sector. The privatization of natural resources is concentrating these common goods in the hands of the wealthy who use them for luxuries while basic needs are not met. In this perverted world order, land is used for golf courses instead of producing food and water is sold and diverted into urban hotels and swimming pools instead providing drinking water and other needs of people. The Via Campesina is on the frontlines of the struggle against the privatization of natural resources. This is a peasant struggle for all of humankind.
The Via Campesina is committed to changing the unjust, unsustainable models of production and trade. Peasants and farmers are suffering a financial, social and cultural crisis everywhere, north and south. And we are everywhere committed to working in solidarity to build more just, sustainable peasant societies.
We, the peasant and small-scale farming societies are not defeated. We are strong and determined and we are the majority in the world. We are proud of our work, which is to produce safe foods for our families and humankind. We cherish our diversity, both biological and cultural. The future belongs to us.
The Via Campesina is committed to building alliances to change the direction of the economic order. We, together with those who share our vision, will change the current economic model in order to protect and develop peasant based agriculture relying on traditional wisdom. We demand access to land and the right to produce our own food. The Via Campesina is unique and historical as the only global peasant movement which recognizes the full equality and value of both women and men. This conference confirmed this through a structural change which ensures that peasant women and men will share responsibilities equally in the movement. We seek to model open, democratic processes within our movement.
The Via Campesina will continue to struggle for justice with mobilizations and actions all over the world from the streets of Seattle to the hillsides of Peru. We are committed to using the most effective, non-violent strategies available, ranging from refusing to participate and direct action to negotiations.
The Via Campesina is committed to achieving food sovereignty and will engage in a worldwide campaign against low priced food imports.