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Why would a fisherman decide to leave his boat to participate instead in long negotiations with professional diplomats in Rome? Why does a peasant woman travel across the world from her village in Asia to discuss the Guidelines on land tenure and water resources in a language she does not speak?
Antonio Onorati, Italian member of Crocce Vía organization provides us with the answers to these questions.
Onoratti knew the times when the negotiations that would affect the lives of millions of peasants and consumers were held at closed doors between experts and politicians only. That has changed: Today 50 representatives of peasant and indigenous organizations are participating in the drafting of a series of long-awaited agreements.
In fact, a long list of victories that nobody questions nowadays (except corporations) – such as peasants rights to keep and multiply seeds, or the internationally accepted concept of “territory” and food sovereignty are the result of the social movement’s struggle to have a role in the international governance.
Onoratti spoke with Real World Radio in Rome, at the first day of the negotiations that will end on Friday 14, while he follows the news on the crisis of capitalism in the European Union and as a strong movement of social protest emerges especially among young people in Italy.
He believes the social movements’ struggle in international agencies is
permanent and it is a learning process, which in practice means that peasants should influence government action without the intermediation of experts or professional politicians.
Onoratti recalls that Crocce Via was one of the founders of Grain – which has recently been granted the Right Livelihood Award or Alterative Nobel Prize- of the European Seed Network and he promoted and facilitates the social movements’ participation within the FAO.
He says that fisherfolk also discuss their own guidelines for large-scale agriculture investment. “Just as we do this job, the World Bank does the opposite, which is to try and make look like sustainable what is actually not sustainable, and by stealing land”.
The FAO headquarters overlook the Coliseum with its two thousand years of history. The Empire that made Christians become the feast of lions has ironically ended up adopting its religion and being the headquarters of the clergy, Pope included. Nothing seems impossible in Rome, not even that peasants and some committed governments will beat large scale agribusiness.
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