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Farmers resistance growing – 100 actions around the world
17 April 2009
17 April, International Day of Peasant’s Struggle
(Jakarta, April 16 2009) Farmers’ and peasants’ organisations, landless workers, rural women and youth are mobilising on April 17th for the International Day of Peasant’s Struggle (1). This year, up to 100 actions including demonstrations, street theater, video screenings, direct action, conferences, art shows, local food markets, publications and exchanges… are being organised by the international farmers’ movement Via Campesina, its friends and allies (2).
In Brazil land occupations have already taken place in more than 8 States to demand the settlement of 100,000 families from the landless movement (MST) and to denounce growing unemployment caused by the agro-industry and the economic crisis. In the Spanish State, several groups are organising about 20 events, including a series of protests against GMOs culminating in a mass demonstration in Zaragoza (¡no quiero trangénicos!).
The 13th International Day of Peasant’s struggle is taking place across a world shaken by a global multi-crisis affecting food and agriculture, the environment and all of financial and economic life.
Meanwhile, farmers’ and people’s resistance is growing everywhere and the food sovereignty movement is gaining recognition at many levels of the political and social scene. Just in the past few weeks, the global movement has won important victories. On March 30th, the Free Trade Agreement talks between Central America and the European Union collapsed after Nicaragua left the negotiating table under pressure from social movements including Via Campesina members. If it is signed, this agreement would force more trade liberalisation while the current crisis reveals the dangers of leaving traders managing the world.
On April 6, Via Campesina addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York on the global food crisis and the right to food. Henry Saragih, general coordinator of the peasant’s movement demanded the adoption of a Declaration of the rights of Peasants by the UN body (3).
On April 14, the Bolivian President Evo Morales and 2000 supporters successfully came out of a hunger strike demanding Congress vote in the new electoral law recognising the importance of indigenous communities in the country.
And on the same day, German Agriculture minister Ilse Aigner announced a ban on the cultivation and sale of Monsanto’s genetically modified Maize (MON 810) in the country. People’s organisations around the world have been struggling for decades against transgenic seeds that only benefit transnational corporations while destroying farmers livelihoods, rural communities, peoples heath and the environment.
“Those recent victories show that the wind is turning and that time has come to redirect food policies towards local food production and sustainable farming” said Henry Saragih. On the International Day of Peasant’s Struggle, Via Campesina reaffirms that peasant agriculture must replace industrial export-oriented agriculture in order to guarantee stable food supplies, employment around the world, healthy food for all and the protection of the environment.
*For more information*
(1) The International Day of Peasant’s struggle commemorates the slaughter by the Brazilian police of 19 peasants of the “landless” movement while they mobilized to get access to some land.
You will find more information on the history of the 17th of April and on the Declaration of the Rights of Peasants in the section “Mobilisation Kit” on www.viacampesina.org
(2) See the updated list of activities on www.viacampesina.org
(3) Watch the UN video on http://www.viacampesina.org/main_en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=698&Itemid=1