“Not just a war, but a genocide”: La Via Campesina marches in Solidarity with Palestine in Bogotá

Bogotá, 30 November 2023 – As delegates converge in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia, to partake in the 8th International Conference of La Via Campesina, leaders of the international peasant movement who have already arrived in the city participated in the Bogotá march, commemorating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. Summoned by Colombian labor movements, the march was attended by nearly two thousand people.

“As La Via Campesina youth, we participate in this march driven by our commitment to internationalism and solidarity. Recognizing that borders may separate us, we understand that our struggles are interconnected. We unequivocally condemn the genocide unfolding in Gaza”, said Chengeto Muzira from Zimbabwean Small Holder Organic Farmers Forum and member of the International Coordination Committee of La Via Campesina.

The genocide and Israeli occupation in Palestine result from the intertwined forces of colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and neo-liberalism and these systems work in a combined manner to exploit, oppress, and perpetrate genocide against the poor, said Jaime Amorim, a member of the International Coordination Committee of La Via Campesina and representative of the Landless Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, MST). “As La Via Campesina, our core values are anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-neoliberal, and today we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people because we support their struggle to reclaim their territory and homeland. Therefore, their struggle becomes an international one. We are here guided by our principles of defending democracy, opposing war, and advocating for peace for our people. The genocide in Gaza is against the entire working people, the poor,the landless, the peasantry, wherever they may be”, he added.

Amorim is correct in stating that this genocide extends beyond the walls of Gaza, evolving into a global concern. It is evident that powerful governments around the world and other international actors are not only complicit in the genocide of Palestinians and the occupation but are also active participants.

Marches and demonstrations marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People were preceded by numerous mass mobilizations around the world. These events unfold in unity and resonate with a singular cry: Free Palestine. According to Yasmeen El-Hasan from the Union Of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) who is in Bogotá to represent Palestinian small-scale farmers at La Via Campesina conference, global solidarity and mass mobilization is core to their struggle and for their future liberation. “Marches like this are crucial for showing our people back home in Palestine that people from all over the world are with us”, she said.

La Via Campesina is founded on principles of liberty, liberation, justice, and community. It also stands as an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and anti-patriarchal movement. “La Via Campesina encapsulates the idea that this is one struggle, and our liberation is interconnected. As UAWC, we are honored to be part of such a movement. La Via Campesina supports us, and we carry its spirit”, Yasmeen added.

Israel as a settler colony, founded on land theft

The Union of Agricultural Work Committees denounces Israel as a settler colony, asserting that the basis of such settler colonialism is land theft. UAWC emphasizes that for Israel to succeed in its settler colonial enterprise, it aims to displace or eliminate the indigenous people from their land. One method of achieving this is by destroying or controlling infrastructure and limiting Palestinians’ ability to sustain themselves through their land. “Israel controls our water and our agriculture. It is not a coincidence that Area ‘C’ of the West Bank, which comprises over 60% of the West Bank, is under the total military administration of the Israeli occupying forces. It is not a coincidence that it is the most fertile and resource-rich land, and we are not allowed to utilize it,” said Yasmeen.

Despite the temporary cease fire and Israel allowing humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, it is its strategy to use starvetion as a weapon of war and genocide in Gaza, manufacturing famine. “Our fight for food sovereignty is interconnected with the struggle for our national sovereignty. If we had control over our land and natural resources, we wouldn’t face issues of food insecurity”, added Yasmeen El.Hasan.