- Published on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 14:35
by Peter Rosset
September 14, 2003 - 4:30 PM. We just returned from a very moving ceremony for Lee Kyung-hae, the Korean farmer who immolated himself in protest against the WTO last Tuesday. The ceremony was held at Camp Lee, formerly known as Kilometer Zero - the start of the security perimeter, the spot where Lee sacrificed himself, and the place where the Koreans and supporters from around the world have been camping ever since. Today his brother and one of his daughters were present, having just arrived from Korea -- his wife died ten years ago in a car accident. Speaker after speaker had the same message: "The sacrifice of Compañero Lee was not in vain, it gave us the energy to derail the WTO talks in Cancun, and his spirit of struggle will live on in our hearts as we keep fighting for that better world that is possible."
Just a short time later the Via Campesina delegation got calls from inside the convention center announcing the collapse of the official talks. We were told that the Kenyan representative had just stood up during the official press conference at the Convention Center and emphatically declared: "This is over. We have just had a second Seattle," and walked out, followed in short order by the representatives of South Korea and India.
- Published on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 00:53
On the 10th of September 2003, while protesting outside the WTO ministerial in Cancun, Mexico, farmer Lee sacrificed his life by stabbing himself. That tragic incident exposed the destructive effects of WTO and its trade liberalisation efforts on the lives of millions of peasants globally. In memory of Lee and the continuing struggles of peasants in resisting the neo-liberal agenda of WTO, La Via Campesina marks September 10 as the International Day Against WTO and Free Trade Agreements.
It is a more fitting tribute to let Lee tell his own story, from a statement he distributed in Geneva and later minutes before his death in Cancun:
I am 56 years old, a farmer from South Korea who has strived to solve our problems with the great hope in the ways to organize farmers' unions. But I have mostly failed, as many other farm leaders elsewhere have failed.
Soon after the Uruguay Round Agreement was sealed, we Korean farmers realized that our destinies are no longer in our own hands. We cannot seem to do anything to stop the waves that have destroyed our communities where we have been settled for hundreds of years. To make myself brave, I have tried to find the real reason and the force behind those waves. And I reached the conclusion, here in front of the gates of the WTO. I am crying out my words to you, that have for so long boiled in my body:
- Published on Monday, 05 September 2016 15:25
The CAP’s failings mean grassroots movements and national governments are starting to take matters into their own hands. Policymakers at this week’s Cork conference on rural development must take heed, write Stanka Becheva and Ramona Duminicioiu. First published by EurActiv.com
Cork, a picturesque city in South-West Ireland might not ring a bell to many people, and the event taking place there this week even less: the Cork European Conference on Rural Development. Unless, of course, you’re somehow involved – for better or for worse – in the European Union’s agricultural debate.
But the impact of this meeting goes beyond farmers or those working in the food sector; they will impact on the future of the entire continent, because whether you live in the city or in the countryside, we all eat. And – with a few exceptions – that food comes from our rural areas.
- Published on Thursday, 01 September 2016 15:44
Brussels, September 1, 2016
In view of the informal meeting of the Council of Ministers of Agriculture of the European Union to be held on September 2, ECVC with our colleagues from the Confederation Paysanne, will mobilize in Chambort to denounce and raise awareness of the serious crisis that the CAP- adapted to free trade agreements and discarding market regulation instruments- has on producers and on European citizens. ECVC also wants to send a clear message to the ministers of agriculture: we need another agricultural and food policy, one that protects the fundamental rights of our communities and puts the market at the service of the people.
The European Coordination Via Campesina welcomes the initiative of the French Agriculture Minister Stephane Foll of gathering his counterparts at Chambort to informally discuss the future of the Common Agricultural Policy. The meeting will be short, in a Royal venue of dubious symbolism, but it takes place amidst an intense agricultural crisis which we hope will give the ministers the foresight and ambition to profoundly change the CAP in the months to come.