On September 10, 2003, the Korean farmer leader Mr. Lee Kyun Hae immolates himself in front of the WTO ministerial conference in Cancun, Mexico, surrounded by thousands of protestors. He was holding a banner saying: “WTO kills farmers!” That year, the WTO talks collapsed. Since then, every year, La Via Campesina commemorate this day as the International day of struggle against the WTO and neoliberalism.
This year at the end of July, under strong pressure by social movements and because of resistance of a great number of governments against the excessive demands by the European Union and the United States, the WTO talks collapsed once again. This institution has now entered a period of indeterminate hibernation. La Via Campesina peasant’s members, men and women from around the world, celebrated this in Geneva with fisherfolks and other social movements in July 2006.
The deadlock of the WTO is good news for the people and the movements that have been opposing its policies for years and an opportunity to put forward our alternative agenda. At the same time we have to give more attention to the Free Trade Agreements negotiated between countries or regions. They actually implement the same policies as the WTO. . This is why La Via Campesina members are now intensifying the struggle against FTAs in Korea as well as in the other regions.
In September 2006, our movement celebrate the third anniversary of Lee Kyun Hae’s self immolation by organising protests and mobilisations against the World Bank and the IMF annual meetings in Singapore (September 11-21). The World Bank and the IMF are also among the institutions that are imposing neo liberal policies such as privatisation and trade liberalisation.
Our message for the Singapore
IMF/World Bank meetings:
1/ We oppose the market oriented land reform policies of the World Bank and we promote genuine agrarian reform. We will continue to build up on what we have been advocating during the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD), organised by FAO in March 2006 in Porto Alegre-Brazil. We hold the governments accountable for the declaration they signed during that Conference.
2/ We oppose the neo liberal policies promoted by the IMF and the World Bank. The policies (and conditionalities) imposed by those institutions force the countries to open their markets to cheap imports. They also force the governments to cut their public spending (for credit, agricultural inputs, water, education…). Development projects promoted by the World Bank (infrastructure, large dams…) contribute to the expulsion of the farmers from their field and the destruction of the local economies.
The World Bank and the IMF are following the same agenda as the the WTO. It is time for those institutions to close down and to be replaced by institutions promoting food sovereignty
3/ We denounce the criminalisation of peasant struggle
The policies promoted by the World Bank and the IMF force peasants to resist if they want to survive and grow food in their land. It creates strong conflicts between farmers, governments and land owners. Peasants are facing strong repression and criminalisation linked to the policies promoted by those institutions. We will use the World Bank and IMF meetings to expose this injustice.