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Stop Neo-liberal Policies! Build Food Sovereignty

17 April 2007

Call for April 17: International Peasant’s struggle Day

The 17th of April is the International Peasant’s Struggle Day, established after the massacre of 19 landless peasants belonging to the Landless Movement (MST) in Brazil on the 17th of April 1996 during the second conference of  La Via Campesina in Tlaxcala Mexico.

In commemoration of the International Peasant’s Struggle Day, La Via Campesina and its allies are organizing activities and actions all over the world. Peasants and friends will rally around the following demands:

1.  The WTO negotiations should not resume.
We want the WTO to permanently remain in the lethargy state it entered in July 2006. Under the WTO policies, the crisis of food, agriculture and family farming has deepened in every corner of the world.

We call peasants’ organizations and other social movements to urge their governments to put an end to the so-called Doha Development Agenda (DDA). In reality there will not be any development as long as countries are competing with each others to grab each others food and agriculture markets.

Challenging the Doha Development Agenda, peasants, fisher folks, pastoralists, workers, women and ordinary people in the world are demanding the implementation of food sovereignty.

(Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.

It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal – fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just income to all peoples and the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage our lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food.

Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social classes and generations. (Excerpt of the Declaration of Nyeleni 2007, International Forum on Food Sovereignty in Selingue, Mali, February 2007))

We call peasants organizations and other social movements to discuss with their governments about trade and production alternatives based on food sovereignty and out of the WTO.
2.    Stop Free Frade Agreements (FTAs) and Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) in food and agriculture.  
FTA and EPAs are just a breakthrough created to deal with the collapse of the WTO negotiations and to speed up the liberalization process. They are not alternatives to the WTO, but the other side of the same sharp blade, the blade of neo-liberalism.

Bilateral agreements and partnerships should be made between peasants and ordinary people based on the principle of solidarity. People to people relations in solidarity will create brotherhood and sisterhood, while FTA will pave the way for transnational corporations to destroy people’s economies.

3.    End with the colonial model of monoculture.
History shows that that exploitation of other countries’ agricultural wealth usually happens through monocultures farming. This was the colonial mode of production because the rulers were only concerned about getting commodities in huge volume at the cheapest price. They did not care about the impact of monocultures on the land and on the workers. It led to environmental destruction and slavery.

Until today, agriculture systems based on monocultures keep exploiting human beings and the environment. They create overproduction, which in turn destroys the peasants’ economy because of the dumping of agricultural produces.

We urge all governments to phase out from monoculture farming and to develop a sustainable agriculture based on family farms that respects the ecology or agro-ecology and produces healthy and nutritious food.

4.    Oppose the World Bank policies on land and rural development
The World Bank has been imposing policies leading to privatisation of land, water, public services, seeds, etc. As a consequence, farmers and rural communities are kicked out of the land and are loosing their livelihood, while big corporations are grabbing most of the world resources.

Those policies are even implemented under the name of “agrarian reform” (the Market Assisted Land Reform of the World Bank).
We call people’s organisations not to be cheated by those neo-liberal policies and to keep struggling for genuine agrarian reform which ensures the rights of communities to access and control of their land, territories, water and agricultural biodiversity.

Instead of listening to the World Bank and IMF’s advice, governments should work with their people towards social justice.

5.    Reject the G8 domination!
The G8 countries are only representing 13,5 % of the world population, but they control 62,6% of  the world economy. They are shaping the world order (economy, development, conflicts, environment…) in a way that affects every human being. This world order drives us in a situation where the number of hungry people has increased from 840 to 854 million in 2006 while a tiny group of millionaires have doubled their capital from 16 to 33 billion dollars.

A few months before the G8 summit in June in Germany, we are denouncing the policies put forward by the G8 governments in order to maintain their power and to protect the interests of the big companies, at the expense of the great majority of the world population.

JOIN THE ACTIONS FOR APRIL 17 !  – More on www.viacampesina.org
1.    Organize public debates, workshops, discussions, seminars, cultural events, and rallies on food sovereignty as the alternative to the neoliberal model. You can use the results of Nyeleni 2007, the Forum for food sovereignty (Mali, February 2007) to disseminate information and to make sure that food sovereignty principles are implemented in your country. Invite government officials, academics and social movements to take part.   (more information at www.nyeleni2007.org)
2.    Take part in the global action and activities on 19th of April to stop EU-ACP EPAs.
3.    Join the campaign against green deserts!
4.    La Via Campesina, together with many other social movements, will take part in the mobilizations against the G8 in Rostock, Germany, June 2 and 3 to show that alternative policies are possible. We call people to go to Rostock for the mobilizations against the G8.

La Via Campesina calls all its member organizations in the world to prepare and organize activities, events and actions in commemoration of 17 April. We invite all Via Campesina members to commemorate this event in their farmlands with their communities and organisations in their villages, provinces and countries.    

We also call other social movements to celebrate this event.  

Please inform us about the activities you are planning. We will publish all actions and activities in our website.
If you want to get more information please contact:

International Operative Secretariat of La Via Campesina
(Contact Person: Tejo Pramono)
Jln. Mampang Prapatan XIV No. 5 Jakarta Selatan, Jakarta 12790  Indonesia.
Phone : +62-21-7991890 Facs : +62-21-7993426 Email: viacampesina@viacampesina.org
And/or join the April 17 listserv by sending a blank message to viacam17april-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Or contact our regional staffs that are close to where you live:

Africa (Isabelle Dos Reis)
Maputo – Mozambique Tel/Fax : (+258) 2132 7895
Email: vcafrica@tvcabo.co.mz
South-East and East Asia (Irma Yanni)
Jln. Mampang Prapatan XIV No. 5 Jakarta Selatan, Jakarta 12790  Indonesia
Phone : +62-21-7991890 Facs : +62-21-7993426  Email: petani@indosat.net.id
Caribbean (Francisca Peguero)
Av Independencia No 1063, Zona Universitaria, Distrito Nacional, Apdo Postal 905-2, Feria.
Tel/Fax: 00-1-809 686 7517 Fax: +1-809-682 0075
Email: conamuca@verizon.net.do
Europe (Morgan Ody)
Rue de la Sablonnière  18
B – 1000 Bruxelles – Métro: Madou
tel + 32 2 2173112   fax: + 32 2 2184509
e-mail: morganody@yahoo.fr
Central America (Wendy Cruz)
Colonia Alameda, 11 Avenida (Alfonso Guillen Zelaya), entre 3 y 4 Calles, Casa 2025, Apartado Postal 3628 Tegucigalpa, M.D.C. – Honduras, C.A. Tel/fax:+5042359915/ +5042324679.  Email: wendy_cruz_s@yahoo.com
South America (Rita Zanotto)
Alameda Barao de Limeira, 1232 – 01202-002 – Sao Paulo -SP – Brasil Phone – 61 3325 3909
Email: lavia.campesina@gmail.com
North America(Jessica Roe)
110 Maryland Ave., N.E. Suite 307 Washington , DC 20002 – USA email: jroe@nffc.net
South Asia (Gayathri Girrish)
Email : gayathri_krrs@yahoo.co.in


17 April 2007
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