Isarn declaration

Asram Tai Baan, Don Daeng, Thailand.*

We, the La Via Campesina, an International Farmers’ Movement, a movement of small and medium peasants and farmers, agricultural producers from all over the world namely: Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand), South Asia (India and Sri Lanka), Northern America (Canada), Central America (Cuba and Honduras), South America (Brasil), Eastern Europe (Poland), Western Europe (Belgium) gathered together in Bangkok and Don Daeng Village of Kandaravichai District in the Mahasarakam province from the 10th to the 13th of March 1999. This historical conference reflects the international solidarity among the global peasantry united in the vision of sustainably feeding the world of today. We are farmers and cultivators, powerless and one in the struggle for access and control over land and natural resources. At present time, majority of land and natural resources all over the world are now gradually being controlled by wealthy landlords, government authorities and many Trans-National Corporations collaborating amongst each other in the exploitation of peasants and small scale farmers worsening the plight of the global poor.

The Free Trade Model under the ideology of neo liberalism has destroyed livelihood, community diversity, culture, environment and natural resources (lands, rivers, forests etc.). Under this so-called Free Trade regime, we are robbed off our rights to fair trade and food sovereignty.

Food trade is not solving the ever-increasing problem of hunger. We defend the right to produce food and not the right to be able to buy cheap food. Food Sovereignty is the right of all countries.

Throughout the world, poverty remains unabated and the debt crisis worsens – these are critical issues that have arisen due to our corrupted structures and institutions. We find ourselves directed by international financial institutions such as the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). These institutions strengthen the control of Trans National Corporations. Sensitive resources are pirated, small and mediums scale production are in destruction and the cries of the oppressed are intentionally ignored by governments. We regard them as the imperialists of today, institutions out there to plunder and colonize the South. They do not only deprive us of our rights to sovereignty but, as well, manipulate our taxation and national budget policies.
We demand for a genuine agricultural reform program, bestowing "land to the tiller". We urge our governments to distribute lands efficiently, giving lands to the peasants, farmers and landless – all of those who are currently being marginalized by society.

We condemn Trans-National Corporations and their self-seeking schemes of controlling genetic resources, using various methods of bio-technology, consequently destroying bio-diversity. This also includes genetic engineering (transgenic), destroying the hopes for self-sufficiency and survival of our peasants and farmers. In addition, we are also concerned with our consumers’ safety understanding that these kinds of technology harm us human beings. Therefore, we strongly condemn Trans-National Corporations as they are practicing bio-piracy.

Now there are still many countries which, do not recognize women’s participation. Moreover, we find our peasant being killed and executed by the minute all for the accumulation of wealth and the assurance of ’effective’ global competition of nations. Our response to all of these injustices is one – to be united in the struggle against the capitalists, the bourgeoisie and the ruling elite. Furthermore, we aim at placing power to the hands of the people.

Here in ’Isarn’ the land of the people’s struggle, we, the La Via Campesina collectively pledge our declaration in fighting against all injustices of this world and bringing forth a more sustainable environment and natural resources. We also call for protection of peasant livelihood in all communities and cultures.

We will be meeting again in Bangalore, India for our Third International Conference which will be held from the 1st – 6th of October 1999. We will also be hearing out our women in the First International Women’s Conference that will be held prior to the Third International Conference. In our forthcoming Assembly we will be once again re-affirming our declaration. We will be joined by a million peasants from all over the world and will be continuously calling to all the governments to withdraw all agricultural trade agreements from the WTO. We will constantly call for genuine agrarian reform programs from our respective governments and fight for the rights of the landless and individuals comprising the ’lower echelons’ of society. We will never stop until land is given to the one who cultivates it.

* Kandaravichai District, Mahasarakam Province