Full text of the message that La Via Campesina delivered while accepting the XV Navarra International Prize for Solidarity on 21 November 2017
“Globalizing the struggle also means globalizing solidarity,
and the hope of the peoples of the world”
We thank you first of all for the Navarra International Prize for Solidarity. We consider it a recognition of a process of resistance and construction of a more just and humane alternative.
We also take the opportunity to apologize that our general secretary, Elizabeth Mopfu of Zimbabwe, was not able to participate in this event. It is our pleasure to stand in for her; we are María Canil of Guatemala and Unai Aranguren of the Basque Country, both members of the International Coordinating Committee of La Via Campesina.
La Via Campesina is a world movement of peasant organizations and other people working in rural areas. It represents 200 million peasant and small-holder families spread over all of the world’s continents.
It emerged in a neo-liberal context in which the financial capital of transnational corporations came to dominate agriculture. This new period was characterized by the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, which had devastating consequences for the countryside and agriculture worldwide and fueled the need to articulate popular resistance at the international level.
The creation of La Via Campesina was principally founded on actions of solidarity, the urgency of mobilizing solidarity as a fundamental value in light of the evictions, repression, detentions and even massacres that peasants, men and women, were facing (and are still facing) in various parts of the world. Accordingly we highlight this call, as we receive the XV Navarre International Prize for Solidarity: “Globalizing the struggle also means globalizing solidarity, and the hope of the peoples of the world”.
We live in difficult times in which humankind is confronted with serious economic, political and environmental crises, but also a crisis of values and of profound contradictions between capital and labor. This is also very much the reality of people in the countryside, worldwide.
However, during its journey of more than 20 years, La Via Campesina has succeeded in articulating struggles at the international level, developing a politicized peasant and smallholder identity tied to the land and the production of healthy food in a sovereign manner. Our members represent the sectors worst hit by the globalization of food: small and medium-sized producers, day laborers, landless people, rural women, indigenous communities. This made it possible for our movement to break away from the North-South divide, and to integrate organizations from all over the world.
The emergence of La Via Campesina as a sustainable alternative to the predatory model of agribusiness has cast a new vision on agricultural policies, on food, and on peasants and family farmers, both in our own territorial spaces and at the international level. Policies are no longer formulated without our voices being heard, or without us putting on the table our agenda on the rights of peasants, agroecology, land reform and especially, food sovereignty.
Food globalization, conceived by and for agribusiness and large-scale distribution, privatizes common goods and wipes out those who care for and work the land, by turning food into a profiteering trade. The liberalization of agriculture is a war against peasants and small-scale farmers. It involves policies embedded in institutions and international treaties that jeopardize those who guarantee Food Sovereignty and feed the world’s populations.
We wish to highlight the role played by peasant and rural women in the resistance and defense of an agriculture tied to the land and centered on life, rather than on speculation and money. They are strategic agents in the struggle for food sovereignty, gender equality, defending and caring for the land and territories, the defense of natural goods, the seeds as the heritage of the peoples, agroecology and biodiversity.
La Via Campesina carries on growing and our political proposal is gathering strength. We are increasingly recognized as leading political voice internationally, for example by initiating the process for an international declaration on the rights of peasants and other rural persons at the United Nations, defending common goods, implementing agroecological processes, protecting markets and developing new ones, incorporating people into agricultural activity, and all of this within a comprehensive strategy which we share with all the (nearly 200) organizations that make up La Via Campesina. To this end we develop a common position on past and current threats, and outline future strategies and challenges, all of which we believe is well summarized in the Call of our 7th Conference, celebrated in Derio in the Basque Country in July 2017.
We feed the peoples of the world:
We produce food rather than commodities for financial speculation. For this we require access to common goods such as water, land, seeds and forests, as well as enabling public policies on local produce in school canteens, and other means of access to local markets, for instance. But more than anything, we need to protect peasants and family farmers who are already producing food, and encourage and support more small-scale producers to establish themselves in regions such as Europe where this type of producers only represent 3% of the active population.
We build the movement:
The responsibility for the land, water, seeds and food in general rests not only with peasants and family farmers, but with all of society. Therefore, we must build alliances with other sectors, agents and movements. In a divisive and divided context, La Via Campesina has managed to create unity among the huge diversity of our movement. It is essential that we continue to have tactical and strategic alliances with the working classes, identifying challenges and threats that affect us as young people, as women, and as the whole of society.
We must build alliances with social agents but also with institutions where the development of public policies from the local level upward can accelerate the process of construction of food sovereignty for our populations.
To change our world and worlds:
The voice of La Via Campesina is heard throughout the world and is increasingly being listened to. It is the voice of a movement that generates hope. Solidarity among the peoples is a crucial value to build a supportive world, a sisterly and brotherly world, and to sow our green hope in all of its corners.
The recognition through the prize that we have been awarded here today encourages us on this path, to carry on working for a more equitable and humane world.
“We feed the people, we build the movement, to change the world”