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Monday, February 25, 2013

La Via Campesina (The International Peasant Movement)

Unity among peasants, landless, women farmers and rural youth
La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity. It strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.”

La Via Campesina is a solution story, it represents over 200 million worldwide farmers and works to bring their voice to the international table. Born from four different continents in 1993, today La Via Campesina has the ear of some major institutions including the FAO and the UN and the UN Human Rights Council.

One of the organizations main objectives is to illuminate the issue of, and fight for food sovereignty across colonized nations. One example of how they are doing this is summed up in a statement from Sasha Ross, a journalist from Earth First in an interview with Paul Jay from The Real News Network about corporate land grabbing in Mali.

“Well, the French need to maintain food security for Libya in order to maintain the business relationships that they're building currently, using Libya as a kind of proxy for the periphery. And so Libya needs food security from Mali in order to continue to produce oil effectively and stave off revolution in that country. So this is kind of a supply chain of colonialism…

And it's not just about Mali. In this case, Mali is kind of a sparkplug for the entire African continent. There was actually a meeting there in 2011 that la Via Campesina put together and hosted of land-based movement of farming peoples who are coming together and trying to figure out how to stop so many land grabs from basically dispossessing small farmers and establishing export crops, namely for food security and for luxury items such as biofuels.”

Here is the whole interview:

The Mali conference put together speakers to educate about what land-grabbing is, how it is accomplished and how small-scale farmers might go about stopping it.  You can see summaries of speakers and a written report of the conference on La Via Campesina’s website. Jun Borras, one of La Via Campesina’s founders, gave the concluding statements:

“It has been an extremely vibrant and productive conference, systematically organized by CNOP and Via Campesina Africa. Discussions were frank and comradely, analysis sharp and profound, tackling complicated issues and difficult questions. The majority of participants are representatives of social movements. The overall tone addressed to the outside world debating about global land grabbing has been “not about us without us.””

La Via Campesina memberships are open to anyone involved in farming, fishing, food or food sovereignty related endeavors. They hold annual meetings around the globe which allow people to network and talk about important issues.

 On March 3rd 2013 at the Gloucestershire at Ruskin Mill Farm in the UK they will host one of their annual meetings. This event is aimed at organizing a campaign which will lobby in UK and European Parliaments for the rights of small scale farmers and issues affecting them. According to Chris Smaje of Permaculture Magazine,

“Although many farmers across the UK are already associated with unions, Via Campesina is unique in offering direct links to experiences and activities of like-minded producers across Europe and the rest of the world.”
Brixton responded to the world-wide call by global peasants organisation La Via Campesina for 'Thousands of Cancuns for Climate Justice' to mobilise grass roots solutions and actions. London, UK.

Other issues that La Via Campesina is passionate about include agrarian reform, agricultural slavery, women’s rights, biodiversity, genetic resources, and sustainable peasant farming. They are really a who’s who of local, regional and international organizations connected to these struggles. Their website reflects a global network, announcing events going on in Chili, Qatar, Taiwan, and Tunisia all within a month. There is also a wealth of publications available through La Via Campesina and their member organizations on everything from stopping violence against women to combatting Monsanto to understanding Free Trade. If you’re interested in getting involved with La Via Campesina events see their calendar: Actions and Events

For information on La Via Campesina's members, becoming a member or donating to the organization, see their website:

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