TOWARDS CANCUN: Via Campesina present at the 6th National Assembly of People Affected by The Environment

Magdalena Ocotlán, Oaxaca. México

September 11-12, 2010

A delegation of Vía Campesina representatives from the United States, the Basque Country and different parts of Mexico arrived in the community of Magdalena Ocotlán, in the Central Valley region of Oaxaca in solidarity with the movement of People Affected by the Environment and their 6th National Assembly. This movement is a national effort to link the different environmental struggles and to strengthen the unity between the rural countryside and urban cities to confront the terrible environmental devastation caused by this capitalist system of destruction and plunder.

Representatives of organizations, social movements and communities from Mexico presented their cases of environmental and human devastation caused by the mines, GMO crops, garbage dumpsites, land grabs, the contamination of water and soil, amongst other causes. They also made known their struggles, explaining the course of actions they are taking within their own communities to halt these catastrophes. The Assembly pronounced itself against the neoliberal system and the transnational corporations which are responsible for the climate crisis.


In their presentation to the Assembly, the delegates of Vía Campesina offered their experiences to pose that the peasant struggle and the struggle of those affected by the environment are on the same path in rejecting the practices which are destroying the planet and proposing food sovereignty and the communal protection of natural resources.

In his presentation to the Assembly Carlos Marentes of the Border Agricultural Workers Union (Unión de Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos – UTAF), based in El Paso, Texas, said that “immigrants are also victims of the climate crisis and as such must also make themselves heard in Cancun.” He pointed out that there are 210 million migrants worldwide that have been displaced from their lands due to droughts, floods, water contamination, soil deterioration and erosion. Unable to survive in their own communities they “must migrate to the Northern societies where they are rejected and repressed.”

Celerino Tlacotempa, state coordinator from the state of Guerrero of the National Union of Regional Autonomous Peasant Organizations (Unión Nacional de Organizaciones Regionales Campesinas Autónomas – UNORCA) talked about the actions being taken by people in his region to combat climate change. They are fighting to recuperate the soil through the integration of organic materials, the salvage and betterment of their seeds and native corn, and implementing education and formation regarding the threat of GMO’s. “The rescue of our traditional seeds and food, the resistance against GMO seeds, is fundamental to stop transnational corporations.”

Alberto Gómez, coordinator of La Vía Campesina North American Region, made a strong call to unite the peasant, indigenous and all of those affected by the environment struggles to achieve thousands of protests and thousands of actions against the governments and the big corporations responsible for the environmental devastation and global warming. In regards to the mobilizations towards the COP-16 in Cancun, he stated that “we reject the proposals from governments at the COP-16 negotiations, such as the REDD program, biofuels, GMO’s and bio-engineering. Instead of confronting the climate crisis, these initiatives are nothing more than new business opportunities and false solutions.”

In the workgroup tasked with the issue of the path towards COP-16, the assembly participants passionately discussed a plan of action towards Cancun, establishing a commission from the assembly body to organize the caravans, together with La Vía Campesina, to demonstrate to the international community the struggles against the environmental devastation in Mexico.  In this manner a move forward towards Cancun was initiated with the celebration of the regional assemblies, the establishment of a work plan and the caravan starting points in San Luis Potosí, Guadalajara, and Acapulco. These caravans will proceed towards Mexico City where a mega-march “For Life and Environmental Justice” will take place on November 30th. This massive citizen march, with the participation of unions like the Mexican Union of Electrical Workers (Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas – SME), the teachers of the National Coordination of Educational Workers (Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación – CNTE), the miners of Cananea and other social and political movements is to call attention to the world that people are mobilizing  towards Cancun to unmask the false solutions and to raise the peoples’ alternatives to cool down the planet.

Once the mega march in Mexico City takes place, the caravans will advance towards the south, crossing towns where struggles of great importance against the capitalist environmental destruction are taking place in order to arrive in Cancun on December 3rd.  In addition, confirmation of other caravans was given, one of which will depart from Chiapas. Once the caravans arrive in Cancun, the Alternative Global Forum for Life, Environmental and Social Justice will begin. A series of mobilizations will take place and culminate on December the 7th with the Vía Campesina March. Simultaneously on that same day various actions, mobilizations and cultural acts will take place across the United States, Canada and many other places around the world, echoing the call of La Vía Campesina to carry out thousands of Cancuns for life and environmental justice.

Finally, before an assembly packed with women, farmers and agricultural workers, indigenous people, children and activists of various social movements, the representative of Workgroup 2 declared, “The route to Cancun is only one instance in the struggle… the assembly approves to move forward beyond Cancun with La Vía Campesina in order to achieve changes against the environmental destruction and to better the conditions of our planet.”