La Via Campesina, of which CAGJ is a member through the National Family Farm Coalition, calls for April 17 to be commemorated every year as the International Day of Peasant Struggle, to mark the massacre of 19 peasants struggling for land and justice in Brazil in 1996. Every year on that day actions take place around the world in defense of peasants and small-scale farmers struggling for their rights – over 250 actions are taking place today! Over the last couple of years, CAGJ has participated by doing street theater, and distributing hundreds of leaflets accompanied by the beautiful music of Seattle Fandango Project at the Ballard and University District Farmers Markets.
CAGJ remains committed to working in solidarity with small-scale farmers and La Via Campesina. This year, one of our commitments to food sovereignty and justice has been to publish the second edition of “Our Food, Our Right: Recipes for Food Justice”. You can help CAGJ to reach thousands more through this book!
We invite you to join us for our upcoming Food Justice Urban Hike-a-thon on Saturday, April 28. Besides the political and educational component, it will be an opportunity to get exercise on a (hopefully) sunny spring day while socializing with fellow food activists, share a delicious lunch with a view, explore the greener side of Seattle, and help raise funds for “Our Food, Our Right” (Foreword by Raj Patel!). You can sign up to hike, or simply donate $10, $25, $100 or more – click here.
One of the greatest challenges faced by peasants is the implementation of policies and development models based on land expansion and land expropriation, commonly known as land grabbing. Land grabbing is a global phenomenon led by local, national and transnational elites and investors, with the participation of governments and local authorities, in order to control the world’s most precious resources. Land grabbing has resulted in the concentration of land and natural resource ownership in the hands of wealthy (ie. large-scale investors, government officials, plantation owners, logging, agribusiness and energy companies, tourism and real estate developers, etc). This has led to the eviction and displacement of the local populations – usually farmers – the violation of human rights, increased poverty, social fracture and environmental pollution around the world (but primarily in the global south). Land grabbing is justified by many governments and policy think tanks through claims that agribusiness will modernize backward agricultural practices and guarantee food security for all. However widespread those claims may be, they have been shown to be entirely false in the real world. The key players behind land grabbing prioritize profit over people’s well-being: they produce agrofuels if this is more profitable than food production, and they export their food production if this is more lucrative than selling it at home. In this race to profit, the corporate sector is increasing its control over food production systems, monopolizing resources, and dominating decision-making processes.
Business lobbies have strong political influence that often overrides democratic institutions; in addition, they act with the complicity of local and national elites (traders, politicians and community leaders) who fail to protect their own people and environment from predation. Therefore La Via Campesina and CAGJ calls on all of its members and allies, fisher-folk movements, agricultural workers organizations, students and environmental groups, women organizations and social justice movements to take action:
To stop land grabbing and reclaim grabbed land – the land should be in the hands of tillers.
To implement genuine agrarian reform in order to bring about social justice in rural areas.
To end the control over billions of people’s lives exercised by a few investors and transnational companies.
To oppose the principles of “responsible agricultural investment” (RAI) proposed by the World Bank as it can never be “responsible” for investors and corporations to grab farmers’ land.
To strengthen the agriculture production model based on family farming and food.
We urge you to learn about and support the valuable work of La Via Campesina, and to learn more about the issues and struggles of local food justice projects, union grocers, locally sourced restaurants, local food processors, urban farms & other important sites of the Pacific Northwest food system!
Globalize the Struggle! Globalize Hope!