From January 21-23 2003, in the city of Porto Alegre/RS (Brazil), we carried out our First Peasants’ World Assembly. We had the active participation of over 300 men and women delegates coming from Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europe and the Americas. This open and inclusive Assembly was called together by VIA CAMPESINA, before the World Social Forum. We peasant delegates and leaders discussed the increase in poverty and misery into which our peoples find themselves; the privatisation of our land, water and all other resources – allowing transnational companies to control these resources. This process has dsiplaced millions of indigenous, peasant and black families resulting in massive unemployment all over the world. This came about as a product of the neoliberal policies imposed upon our peoples, with the consent of our governments.
These policies are in conjunction with the militarization of our countries, and by the declaration of wars, under the pretext of fighting narcotics and terrorism, as in Colombia, Palestine and Iraq. Military headquarters have been established in strategic points around our world. Covert envoys of troops have been sent in order to offer "social and humanitarian services". These militaristic and terrorist actions by the US government have caused thousands of deaths of defenseless peoples, hitting mainly children, old persons and women. These actions were shamelessly warranted by developed countries organized under NATO. They also stimulate "civil conflicts" in our countries, because these mean important gains for them, as in the case of Venezuela.
The negotiations around FTAA go on being carried at the expense of the peoples, and in a quite cheeky way the negotiators are prepared by the same North-Americans, as in Central America, without respecting the life and dignity of the peoples. Yet in spite of getting stuck in some aspects, specially agriculture, negotiations are going forward bilaterally, which is already part of the defeat of a "coherent plan for the American continent".
In spite of the deterioration of the standard of living of peoples, particularly in rural areas, governments of each country go on supporting neoliberal policies, accepting the subjugation of their sovereignty, the criminalizing the struggle of the peoples in defense of their basic rights. They are bringing to court leaders as is the case of José Bové, in France, who was sentenced to 14 months in prison because he denounced crimes committed by transnationals. In Guatemala 114 orders for the arrest of peasant leaders were written out because they fought for their lands. Meanwhile the corrupt and those who traffic in drugs move freely in Bolivia. Eighteen friends have been murdered for defending their rights to produce coca leaves, which have been produced for centuries. In Mexico peasants have started a campaign called "El Campo No Aguenta Más" (The countryside cannot take it any more), to fight the perverse effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement signed 5 years ago, which has expelled many peasants from the rural areas, increasing poverty and misery.
We condem the emprisonment and persecutions of thousands of brothers and sisters, peasants and their leaders. We condemn the sentence of 14 months in prison given to José Bové, and we also condem the fact that 5 Cubans are in US jail because of their political stances. We must struggle hard for them to be freed. We must undertake concrete actions denouncing this in solidarity, in each of our countries, to make our rights can prevail. We condem the deplorable and inhuman conditions in which our brothers and sisters, displaced by wars and the expropriation of their land, must live, as a consequence of neoliberal policies. We assert that their rights must be respected and their needs met by their governments.
We, the people, natives, peasants, black people, women, artisanal fisherfolk, shepherds and all those living from the land and the sea are the hope for life as we are linked to Mother Earth which means that a component of our identity is embodied in the right to water and seeds.
Our organization and our struggle are the hope of our peoples, with a clearly defined content regarding landreform, foodsovereignty, biodiversity and the environment, our rejection of GMOs, the defense of native seeds, water, peoples` economic, political and social rights, agricultural and trade policies, genetic resources also those of the sea – which we ratified during this Peasant’s World Assembly. Because our struggle is for life and dignity of our peoples, we say a clear NO to FTAA in the Americas, and demand that agriculture be taken out of WTO.
We are calling for a confrontation against WTO, and this means that we start now to prepare ourselves for the Summit in Cancun, Mexico, in September of this year. We will organize strong mobilizations on continental and international level, starting with massive activities in Mexico, until we achieve our goals.
In order to realize a broad and continuous struggle we need to better define our movements, in each continent. In Latin America CLOC is highly visible; in Europe we have CPE. We must immediately organize a continental reference in Africa and the Middle East, actively involving women and youth.
We have left unattended the education of young leaders, both politically and ideologically, therefore we need a school for international training and exchange of experiences, that will allow us to profit from what we have built so far.
We need to organize and strengthen our alliances with other social movements because ennemies are organized. We will be at the World Social Forum, to concretize our alliances from the start through actions. This Forum must speak out in favor of the struggles and sacrifices made by our peoples and must join the call to action by different social sectors. It must be a real space for reflection and action.
We express our concern about what may happen in Brazil since the Brazilian Secretary for Agriculture is disposed to allow the free entrance of GMOs, a fact which will gravely hurt the interests and the food sovereignty of the Brazilian people.
Militarization and war are issues not sufficiently discussed in Via Campesina. We have to build peace and selfdetermination of peoples through our actions and struggles. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, the people of Venezuela, Colombia, Palestine and Iraq. We condem the economic blockade that for more than 40 years has been imposed up on Cuba by the US. We are concerned about the extreme poverty in which the people of Haiti live, and have to put forward concrete actions in order to get out of this situation.
We must redouble our efforts to discuss and analyse the new political project that we, the world’s peasants, want . We must solidify our political and economic project to be more human, more inclusive, and respectful of our planet.
LET US GLOBALIZE THE STRUGGLE…. GLOBALIZE THE HOPE.
Porto Alegre, Brazil, January 23 of the year 2003.