PADKOS NO 35
Come to the Padkos Bioscope (@ CLP offices) at 1pm on Tuesday, 30 April. We’ll be watching: “La Via Campesina in movement: … Food Sovereignty Now!”, a 20-minute documentary produced by the global movement of peasants and the landless, La Via Campesina.
In a previous Padkos (December 2011) marking La Via Campesina’s ‘International Food Sovereignty Day’, we shared CLP’s understanding and approach to the idea of food sovereignty. Yesterday, on April 17, La Via Campesina (LVC) took coordinated action around the globe “to reclaim our food system” during the ‘International Day of Peasants’ Struggles’.
The International Day of Peasants’ Struggles commemorates the 1996 massacre of nineteen militants of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra’ (MST) – the Landless People’s Movement of Brazil:
On 17 April 1996, in … the Amazonian state of Pará in Brazil, the state military police massacred peasants involved in the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST), killing 19 individuals. That day, 1500 women and men participating in the MST occupied and blocked a highway with the intention of pressuring the state and federal governments for agrarian reform. At about 4pm, 155 state military police from two brigades surrounded the MST on the highway, firing tear-gas and live ammunition from machine guns. In addition to the 19 MST killed during the massacre, three more died later from injuries, and 69 people were wounded. State authorities – the police, the army and powerful local landowners – were involved in planning and executing the massacre. More than fifteen years later, none of those responsible for the massacre at Eldorado dos Carajás has been imprisoned or punished.
In the documentary we’ll watch, activists from around the world talk about the emergence and thinking behind the struggle for ‘food sovereignty’. Unlike some campaign ideas and slogans that seem to emerge in the heads of elites, NGOs and ‘experts’, as Ibrahim Coulibaly, of Mali, says in the video: “food sovereignty has always been our everyday quest”. Itelvina Masioli, from the MST of Brazil says of the dominant food system: “This agriculture is an agriculture without people”. The struggle for food sovereignty is the struggle of and for humanity – of making our systems subject to the will of the people – this is what we mean by ‘sovereignty’. You’ll also hear Renaldo Chingore, of the Mozambican peasants movement, UNAC, saying they fight against their government’s complicity with the multi-national corporate forces that displace peasants and peasant productions systems. He says they struggle to force governments to “focus instead on the reality of our lives”. This is very true: food sovereignty is a struggle of and for the REAL. The video shows very clearly that:
* firstly, the current system is a disaster on every level except in terms of the growing power and profit of the elite at the top – it is socially scandalous, driving poor people and small-scale and peasant farmers off the land, creating misery, poverty, hunger and malnutrition on a scale that is global, and it is environmentally catastrophic; and
* secondly, the systems, knowledge and practices of exactly those who are most hurt by the current systems are the basis of the only rational and just way out of our current crisis; they are the basis for a joyful, healthy, respectful life (and diet!)– but those are exactly what are under attack.
And they are under attack! In the movie, Leonida Zurita, from Bolivia, and Alphonsine Ngie Ngube, from the Congo, give one example when they lead comrades with flowers and candles to remember those landless militants who died in the massacre in Brazil.
In this Padkos we’re attaching the most recent Nyeleni Newsletter. The newsletter is always a great source to remain informed about, and committed to, the struggles of peasants and landless for land and humane food regimes around the world. But this edition is particularly timeous because there is a thematic focus on food sovereignty as such. The newsletter recalls that:
At the World Food Summit in 1996, La Via Campesina (LVC) launched a conceptthat both challenged the corporate-dominated, market-driven model of globalised food production and distribution, as well as offering a new paradigm to fight hunger and poverty by developing and strengthening local economies. Since then, food sovereignty has captured the imagination of people the world over … and has become a global rallying cry for those committed to social, environmental, economic and political justice.
In addition you will also find programme details for the “Sustainable Living Indigenous Plant Fair 2013” taking place in CLP’s home-town of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. We’re not suggesting that the Fair is genuine food sovereignty in action! But it’s a perfectly sincere effort to share experiences, resources, and information and raise awareness of a range of important issues connected with the practicalities of sustainability. Especially for our locally-based subscribers, there is almost certainly something of interest and relevance in the programme of events taking place between 25 & 28 April.
Finally – a head’s up looking ahead to food sovereignty action during 2013: CLP is collaborating with comrades on the local University campus who plan to return to these themes in a big way at the end of October this year when they will host a “Food Festival” – details later!
RSVP if you’re coming to the movies at 1pm on Tuesday, 30 April!