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27 June 2013 | Interviews | Social activists at risk | 6th International Conference of La Via Campesina | Resisting neoliberalism | Human rights | Gender | Climate Justice and Energy | Food Sovereignty
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“70% of the food that all human beings can find on their tables is elaborated by us, peasants, artisanal fishermen, people who work on urban agriculture”, said Alberto Gomez, leader of Via Campesina Mexico and a renowned member of Via Campesina International.
“The multi-headed monster that is capitalism is big, strong and powerful, but we have dared to fight it, and continue to do so. The biggest market in the world is that of food. Big corporations, and capitalism, want to take over that market, since it represents huge amounts of money, but so far they have not taken it. It is slipping away”, Gomez added in an interview with Real World Radio.
The interview with the peasant leader took place during the VI International Conference of Via Campesina, that was organized between the 6th and 13th of June in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia. Real World Radio offered a special coverage of the news.
Gomez stressed that peasants are in dispute against big corporations for the food market. “We fight for that, from our position of agricultural peasants, with our food sovereignty approach. The world is in danger because of industrial agriculture, that business system of food transformation and distribution. As opposed to that, we offer our agriculture, which is the opposite: it absorbs pollution emissions and looks for local markets.”
With its technological package (including pesticides), industrial agriculture is one of the main causes of climate change, as is the international transportation system.
Gomez does not ignore the fact that, in a time of capitalist crisis, transnational corporations, governments of many countries (especially industrialized countries) and international financial institutions start to seek natural resources of other countries (seeds and genetic resources among others). This move from capitalism means persecutions of peasants and indigenous peoples, as threats, murders, etc. “Faster and faster, the crisis is taking off our rights as peasants, as human beings”, says Gomez. But “we must have the vision of creating links with other efforts, movements and struggles, with everything that is urban, because that will allow us to build the strength to resist.”
In that sense, the delegate of Via Campesina believes that an important challenge for the peasant movement is to ally itself to other movements, because “we are acting practically alone at international level.”“We need other movements”, he said. At the same time, he spoke about many movements of people who are affected by big projects of many types, not only in developing countries, but also in industrialized countries. He believes it is necessary to join forces. The challenge for Gomez is “to transform ourselves and become another movement of masses”.
The leader welcomes the progress made in the fight for food sovereignty and the fact that this claim has been enshrined in some national constitutions. But he assures that more work needs to be done on that front. Gomez said “to have food sovereignty enshrined in a Constitution is good. But for that to become real and to be implemented there must be a series of policies, not only by the Government, since they change every 4 to 6 years, but State policies.”According to him, now is the time to “debate about the State policies necessary to achieve food sovereignty and to allow us to set the bases to really restore the production capacity of our countries, the feeding capacity with agricultural peasantry.”
Gomez, one of the best-known delegates of Via Campesina at international level, said that international policies are also required, especially because FAO has been “kidnapped” and “does not fulfill the mission for which it was created”.
At the end of the interview, the peasant explained that “proposing alternatives” is crucial, such as a platform to do away with world hunger. “Progress has been made”, he said, but not enough, he admitted. He also warned that Via Campesina International will keep a close look at the process to revive the World Trade Organization and the many UN negotiations that are in place, something that concerns them. They will be alert.
Photo: Vía Campesina.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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