Declaration of Güira de Melena: First Global encounter of La Via Campesina agroecology schools and formation processes

Declaration of Güira de Melena: First Global encounter of La Via Campesina agroecology schools and formation processes

MAY 21 – 30, 2018
“Niceto Pérez” Integral Center of the Asociación Nacional de Agricultores Pequeños (ANAP)

Joined together in this First Global Encounter of Agroecology Schools and Formation Processes of La Via Campesina, we affirm based on the broad diversity of our peasant agricultures, that we are the peoples who produce the food and other agricultural products needed by humanity. We are gathered in Cuba where we have visited many peasant farms and cooperatives of the National Association of Small Farmers of Cuba (ANAP), our host organisation. We have been able to learn a lot “from peasant organisation to peasant organisation” about the “peasant to peasant” or “Campesinx to Campesinx” methodology that has allowed the Agroecological Movement of ANAP to achieve one of the world’s most important successes with the massification and scaling-up of peasant agroecology.

We are men and women peasants, small farmers, indigenous peoples, landless peoples, women of the countryside, rural youth, fisher folk, farm workers, and other rural peoples from member organizations of La Via Campesina in 41 countries from Africa, Asia, The Americas, Europe, and the Middle East.

Gathered here with the goal of deepening our debate and reflection on agroecological training and formation as a strategic dimension for La Via Campesina, and to share, update and define common political positions and lines of action in political and technical formation in agroecology for the coming period of time, we reaffirm the principals of the agroecology of our peoples as expressed in the Declaration of Nyéléni.

We claim our human right to continue existing as peasant peoples, consecrated in the Charter of Peasant Rights, and affirm that humanity needs us, and that we refuse to disappear despite the persecution and criminalisation of our struggles. We are in struggle, we are persevering, and we reaffirm our role as women and men who plant hope in this world.

From a position of political autonomy, we organise and struggle to guarantee our existence as rural peoples and our ability to continue to fulfill in a dignified manner our historic responsibility toward society of building food sovereignty.

We recognise agroecology to be the way in which we materialise our way of life and produce an abundance of healthy and affordable food for all of humanity – food for Life! We denounce the attempts to co-opt agroecology for capitalist ends, and the theft and privatisation of our knowledge and seeds through “intellectual property.”

As the creators of peasant agriculture, and as an expression of our ancestrality, agroecological peasant agriculture is a common element in our diverse cosmovisions, and element that has been created through a dynamic historical process involving cultural encounters among endogenous processes of dialogue of knowledges or “diálogo de saberes”.

As we face urgent contemporary challenges we are sowing agroecological peasant agriculture on all continents, in direct relationships from Peasant to Peasant in our territories. With deep love for our way of life, we have created dozens and dozens of peasant schools and training and formation processes in agroecology – based on both formal and informal education – in all continents. These schools and processes, which always combine technical and political formation in horizontal processes, based on dialog between knowledges and exchange of experiences, constitute a force in our territories, providing our communities with the tools needed for the collective transformation of our realities.

We are meeting here to structure a process of horizontal articulation for mutual strengthening between the schools and processes, tearing down the barriers that guard the monopoly of knowledge held by agricultural sciences. We engage in the recovery of knowledges and ways of knowing, and carry out endogenous processes of both popular and formal education, in dialog with public institutions of research and learning, providing peasant youth and adults with the political and technical abilities needed to facilitate collective processes of production, struggle, resistance and transformation.

We are working to overcome all kinds of patriarchal oppression and manifestations of machismo, with our affirmation of popular peasant feminism. Women have been central protagonists in agroecological peasant agriculture, and our youth have the capacity, creativity and energy for its massification. Patriarchy holds back both women and youth; therefore peasant feminism opens the way toward a different future that is more equal, more humane, and more ecological.

As we struggle for human emancipation and to keep the peasantry alive, we reaffirm:

  • the need for integral and popular agrarian reform and the radical defense of our territories;
  • the need to overcome all types of exploitation of human labor, as well as oppression based on ethnicity, culture, race, politics, gender, age, spirituality, or class.
  • the massification of peasant agroecology, bringing it to a territorial scale;
  • the need to build processes to achieve food sovereignty;
  • our seeds as the patrimony of our peoples at the service of humanity;
  • the struggle for public policies that support our own processes of formation and production, based on agroecological peasant agriculture;
  • alliances between the popular sectors of the countryside and the city, and with academics, researchers and consumers;

Today we face a global battle for the countryside, between the “model of death” of the capitalist system and its arms in finance, agribusiness and industrial agriculture, mining, the business of water and seeds, etc., and our “model of life,” based on agroecological peasant agriculture.

Faced with capitalist devastation, we believe there is no possible solution that is humane and ecological, under the model of death. Capital is a social form that is necessarily violent, based on the exploitation of human labour, on class-based oppression and racism, and on the sacking and pillaging of nature.

The first and last goal of the capitalist system is the broad reproduction of capital, based on the appropriation for private profit of human labour and capacity along with the commodification of nature.

La Via Campesina struggles against, and to overcome, capitalism, and sows the emancipatory seeds of experiences in which we are ever more “socially equal, humanly diverse and different, and totally free,” producers of goods for the satisfaction of genuine and universal human needs, as human beings who are conscious of our place in the cosmos and our role as the active subjects of our own political and agricultural history.

Agroecological peasant agriculture is a fundamental tool in this struggle, and in the construction of a different society. That is why in this Encounter we have worked to develop the elements needed for the mutual and horizontal strengthening between our schools and formation processes. We are building a process of articulation of all our agroecology schools and processes, and we are working on common lines of action and training, exchanges of people, pedagogical methods, study plans and materials, the mapping of our training experiences, an online library and courses, and other tools. All with the purpose of building agroecological territories as our alternative for life in the battle against the model of death.

We denounce the cruel and unjust embargo which the United States has imposed on this lovely island for more than half a century, and affirm that Cuba with its’ Revolution is a lighthouse that illuminates the way toward more humane and just societies around the world.