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International Day of Peasant’s struggle! 17 April 2009

17 April 2009

17 April: International Day of Peasant’s Struggle

Dear LaDonna Redmond,

April 17th, the International Day of Peasant’s Struggle is close approaching and we invite you to make it a day to remember.

Members of the National Family Farm Coalition, member of La Via Campesina, and their allies will take to the streets below the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at 11am on April 17th to protest the violations of the rights of peasants due to the dramatically increasing liberalization of the world’s food system.

Small scale farmers and fishermen are the answer to the crisis of the world’s food production and distribution systems. A growing movement to support local and healthy foods has been sweeping the nation. To ensure that food reaches every person, regardless of where they live and how much they earn, policies changes must be implemented, now. April 17th is one day to bring the problem and the solution to the public’s eye. Please join us in planning and participating in this global Day of Action.

We will hold a street theater and a press conference on April 17th at 11am. The street theatre will illustrate that vultures, such as ADM and Cargil, are dishing out bad eggs stinking of speculation, aquabusiness, fisheries privatization, GMOs, agri-fuels, fish farms, worker exploitation, The Wall of Shame, and the list goes on. In response, family farmers arrive to offer healthy food to the hungry people with empty plates.

We are still in the planning process and believe your contribution to that process is essential. We have a conference call this FRIDAY March 27, at 11:30 (ET) to further discuss the details. Please join us. The call in number is: 1-866-305-2467; code is 260454.  If you cannot, but would like to participate in future planning calls, please let Jessica know. You can reach her at jroe@nffc.net.

Via Campesina members will carry out actions in Mexico and around the world on this day. We hope you can help make the International Day of Peasant’s Struggle in the U.S. this April 17th, 2009 a day to remember.

Sincerely yours,

Dena Hoff
Vice President, National Family Farm Coalition
Regional Coordinator, Via Campesina North America

More about April 17: The massacre of Eldorado de Carajás:

Because they had been evicted from their land more than two years earlier by a mining company and because all their attempts to get the right to settle down on an unproductive land had failed, around 1,500 landless peasants and their families, members of MST, the Brazil’s Landless Peasants Movement, decided to march to the state capital of Pará, to present their demands. The march stopped on the highway at Eldorado de Carajás, as pregnant women and children were tired and needed to rest.

At about 4pm on 17 April 1996, 68 military police from the Paraupebas Platoon arrived and at 4.30pm 87 police arrived from the other direction of Marabá. The peasants were then caught between two platoons of police. After firing tear-gas, the police raised their machine guns to body level and began firing into the crowd. The crowd dispersed as people began to realize they were being shot at with live ammunition.  The first to fall and die was Amâncio Dos Santos Silva, known as “Surdo-Mudo” (“deaf-mute”). Unable to hear the shots, he took longer than the others to understand what was happening.

In total, 19 peasants were killed, 69 were mutilated and hundreds were injured. Among the victims, at least 10 of the peasants were extrajudicially executed after they had been overpowered. Others, although killed from a distance, were shot in the head or thorax.

Today, 13 years after one of the most brutal killings by the Brazilian police in history, none of the culprits has been condemned.

The International Day of Peasant’s struggle

On the 17th of April 1996, while those tragic events were taking place, la Via Campesina was holding its Second International Conference in Tlaxcala, Mexico. Farmers leaders, men and women from around the world, declared that date the “International Day of Peasant’s Struggle” in homage of the struggle for land and peasant’s rights in Eldorado de Carajás and all around the world. Every year, hundreds of peasants and small farmers are arrested, oppressed, intimidated and even killed for their struggle for life.

Since then, every year, farmers organizations and allies, local groups, NGOs and activists all around the world celebrate the 17th of April by organizing events and actions in defense of peasant’s agriculture and the rights of peasants.


17 April 2009
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