The Road to the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and The Forum “Land, Territory and Dignity” both to be Held in Porto Alegre – Brazil 2006
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) is holding the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) from 7th to 10th March.
This event is to be held in Porto Alegre, on the premises of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande del Sur (PUCRS).
Twenty-seven years after the last Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, FAO representatives, Heads of State, ministers and representatives from international agencies will meet to express their recognition of the importance of agrarian reform and access to resources, land, water and biodiversity in eradicating hunger and poverty across the world.
In addition, a civil society conference with a very broad agenda, the Forum “Land, Territory and Dignity”, will be held on an equal footing, facilitated by the International NGO/CSO Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC).
The International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development represents a crucial opportunity for us to meet and talk with governments in order to deal with an issue which is a priority for social movements worldwide. The short time we have at our disposal to prepare and facilitate participation by our organisations is certainly a decisive factor among the difficulties we are facing in steering the process towards and productive outcome.
During these few days, countless activities will be held which are of crucial importance to our organisations as members of LA VIA CAMPESINA. Overall, we must ensure that a wide variety of civil society organisations is represented, including organisations of peasants and landless people, fishermen, indigenous communities, rural workers, women, herdsmen etc, with whom we can share experiences, find common agendas, and interact with the governments and international agencies in order to establish genuine and participatory agrarian reform, which is vital in order to improve the living conditions of peasant families, indigenous communities, African descendants, small farmers, herdsmen, rural workers, fishermen, women and young people in general the world over.
Why are we going to Porto Alegre?
La Via Campesina is universal and global, and we represent the peasants’ voice against the neo-liberal model. We believe it is our role to create a policy of alliances with other organisations in order to re-affirm the fact that genuine and original Agrarian Reform is the only way to eradicate poverty, hunger, unemployment and marginalisation.
For La Via Campesina this will be an opportunity to discuss the activities to be organised for the next Summit on Food Sovereignty, strengthen the Seeds Campaign, work on lobbying for the Peasant Rights Charter and the defence of Human Rights, assess the activities we organised in Hong Kong, carry out an evaluation of the Forums in Caracas and Mali and above all increase visibility for the Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform.
The Key Elements of our Struggle:
We believe that access to land, water and natural resources depend upon establishing public policy and gaining public support in order to achieve genuine and participatory Agrarian Reform.
We believe that only Agrarian Reform can establish a real peasant farming system, which is the fundamental basis of food sovereignty.
We consider Agrarian Reform to be an essential process in order to eradicate hunger and poverty and make the countryside a place in which peasants can live in dignity and produce food.
We believe that it is a priority to confer peasants worldwide with the right to demand public policies guaranteeing sustainable peasant farming.
We are fighting for genuine Agrarian Reform which includes the defence of our seeds, space and land as part of a global vision necessary in order to create a world more fit to live in, without the pollution caused by multinational food companies and their genetically modified products.
This Agrarian Reform prioritises gender equalities, breaking with patriarchal traditions and establishing a new power balance between men and women. We have taken on a new commitment to fight for Human Rights and Peasant Rights.
This Agrarian Reform will integrate young farmers and overcome the problems linked to migratory flows, in which people’s mobility affects the future of peasant and indigenous communities.
La Via Campesina is coming into this conference with the scales tipped in its favour following its victories, mobilisation and actions against the WTO and the neoliberal model. We have new proposals for achieving wellbeing and dignity for our people, integrating all the best experiences at both local and global levels, and creating new forms of alliance which will give us greater strength in demanding respect and protection of our rights and cultures across the world.
We now need to update our theoretical and practical focus on Agrarian Reform by exchanging experiences during the various events to be held, details of which are given below.
· 3 March, evening (7pm) Meeting with those delegates who have already arrived. Convento Capuchinho, Porto Alegre.
· 4 and 5 March: International Meeting of Landless People. Organised by La Via Campesina. Convento Capuchinho.
· 6 March: Meeting of La Via Campesina’s International Working Committee for Agrarian Reform.
· 6 – 9 March: Forum “Land, Territory and Dignity” (Parallel Forum). Organised by civil society (peasants and landless people, fishermen, workers, indigenous people and NGOs).
· 7 – 10 March: International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development. Organised by the FAO.
· 8 March: Mobilisation of men and women to celebrate International Women’s Day.
· 7 – 10 March: La Via Campesina Brazil Camp in the Tesourinha.
· 7 – 10 March: Education Seminar on the PUC University grounds.
· 10 March: Meeting of the women from the La Via Campesina ICC.
· 11 – 13 March: Meeting of the La Via Campesina ICC.
The Organising Committee of the Parallel Forum will send out an official letter of invitation, allowing participants to start visa procedures in the respective countries and buy the plane ticket.
Food and accommodation will be provided by the organising committee of the Parallel Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Accommodation will be provided in the Convento Capuchinho, Rua Paulino Chaves, 291, which is in the Santo Antonio neighbourhood of Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande Do Sul.
Transport at the forum will be provided by the organisers of the Parallel Forum.
Regarding the Visa to enter Brazil: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MRE) told MST that they will facilitate the via applications: You do not need an invitation letter when you go to apply for the visa at the Brazilian Embassy. But you need to bring the invitation letter that you will receive from the Parallel Forum. If there is no Brazilian embassy in your country, pls contact Dulcinea at MST : firstname.lastname@example.org
In case you encounter any problem processing your visa, please send a mail directly to Dulcinea.
We hope that all the delegates will approach the ministries of Agrarian Reform of Agriculture in their respective countries in order to try and ascertain the position they will be presenting as a country during the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development.
The leaders of the ICC should send the list of delegates in accordance with the quotas per continent. For your information, the general quota finally approved was of 130 delegates. The expenses will be met by the forum organisation body according to the following breakdown: Asia 32, Latin America 39, Africa 26, Europe 13, North America including Mexico 7, indigenous peoples 6, Wescana 7.
For example, for Latin America there are 39 delegates, 18 of whom are from La Via Campesina.
Remember that in all La Via Campesina’s activities, developing the mistica is fundamental, which is why we ask that you carry your organisations’ flags with you, and show videos or photographs illustrating the dire situation in the countryside as a result of the lack of a genuine agrarian reform programme (evictions, imprisonment, killings, etc).
Please bring with you a document of around three pages describing the current agrarian situation in your respective countries, with a particular focus on the number of landless rural men and women, and the work your organisation is doing to counter this.
We would recall the commitments made by our comrades during the last meeting of the International Committee for Agrarian Reform held in Brazil (15 – 17 September 2005).
1. Food: Breakfast and dinner will be provided in Capuchinhos. We will have to pay for lunch. You can eat well for 15 reais (around 8 USD). There various options available including sandwiches or food paid by weight (which is generally cheaper).
2. Weather: Temperatures are stable at around 20-26°C, but it tends to rain a lot at this time of year. When it does, the temperature may fall a little. You should bring an umbrella or raincoat.
3. Taxi: It should cost around 20 reais (10 USD) to get from the airport to the city centre. It costs a little more to get to Capuchinhos (around 15 USD).
4. La Via Campesina is working on brochures, leaflets, hand-outs, videos and documents as accompanying material for the country delegations during the activities, but it is still important to bring documentation about Agrarian Reform from your own organisations.