La Vía Campesina prepares road from Geneva to Hong Kong

Press Release                                     

Jakarta, October 28, 2005

Via Campesina delegates from around the world gathered in Geneva last week to prepare their action plan for the WTO ministerial in Hong Kong.

CPE/Via Campesina farmers from Europe, along with Via Campesina delegates from Mexico, Haiti, Korea, Brazil, Mali, Nepal and the United States met in Geneva to confront WTO officials with our message and to prepare for their December farmer and peasant mobilization in Hong Kong during the WTO ministerial meeting.

Alberto Gomez from UNORCA in Mexico explained: “It’s urgent to inform the members of our farmers’ organizations about the necessity to continue to prepare our forces to stop the WTO. We the farmers and rural workers, men and women, are essential to society, because it is our work and our families, and the accumulated knowledge that we transmit from generation to generation that helps get the crops harvested and the food to everyone’s table. This will allow us to defeat the WTO in 2005.”

Young Soo Lee from the Korean Peasants League (KPL) said: “Food and agriculture are more important than industrial products such as automobiles. Without industrial products, we are inconvenienced but we will not die. But people can not survive without food. Food and agriculture are our lives. We cannot trade away our lives. The WTO killed Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae in Cancun and now it is killing many farmers across the world. We send a strong warning message: if the WTO will not respond to our legitimate voice, WTO will face a strong fight in Hong Kong, and in that case all responsibility will go to the WTO and Mr. Lamy for not listening to our voices. WTO kills farmers ! WTO out of agriculture !”

“Ten years of WTO has brought us increased economically-forced migration, a degraded environment, and an even larger gap between the rich and poor.”  said Ingeborg Tangeraas of the Via Campesina International Co-ordinating Committee, who called for an analysis of the impacts of global trade under the WTO. “The powerful countries in the WTO are trying to use agriculture as a weapon to force smaller countries to open their markets, not only in agriculture but also for other goods as well as services—including privatizing healthcare and education. Via Campesina supports the right of countries – like those in the G90 – to say no to deals that would hurt their people.

La Via Campesina is a legitimate voice world wide of small farmers, indigenous peasants, and migrant rural workers. Food sovereignty should be the key principle for agricultural policies and the WTO should get out of food, agriculture, fisheries, public services and other essential public goods.We will continue fighting against the disastrous agricultural politics of the economically powerful countries, to stop the dumping of agricultural products, to achieve real agrarian reform, and for food and agriculture free from genetically modified organisms.