archivos de los protestos globales

Support the September 16th Colombian Peasant Mobilization

by Vía Campesina 8:24pm Wed Sep 11 '02

International Statement in Support of the National Peasant Mobilization in Colombia, for dignified life, food sovereignty, against the FTAA and uprooting.

Dear friends,

The National Peasant Mobilization in Colombia will start on September 16th, as a response to the model of economic globalization based on the elimination of peasant national agriculture, that has been being imposed through violence and the forced displacement of rural peoples to the benefit of the transnational corporations' large investments.

This mobilization is organized by the National Peasant Council (Consejo Nacional Campesino - CNC) in which 11 farmer organizations participate; it is an expression of civil resistance against a development model that will result in the social elimination of peasant, family-farm based agriculture, which needs support and international solidarity.

We ask you to sign this statement in order to support this legitimate mobilization and the request made to Colombian authorities for them to respect the lives and human rights of the mobilized peasants and small farmers.

Please send your signature to before the 16th of September. A Via Campesina international delegation shall be present during the mobilization. We will publish the statement with the list of signatures on September 16, 2002.


Rafael Alegria
International Operative Secretariat


We the undersigned, are concerned with the worrying situation that peasants, indigenous and rural producers are experiencing, as a result of the agrarian policies being applied in Colombia, which have dramatically increased food imports thereby ravaging peasant agriculture, dismantled government institutions that support these farm producers, done away with national food sovereignty, and stimulated the concentration of land in unproductive large properties by means of violence which has caused the murder of thousands of peasants and small farmers and the forced uprooting of thousands of others from their land.

We believe that this model has led to the ruin of national producers, while the transnational corporations have taken over the control and ownership of food production, processing and marketing, imposing on rural areas and farm workers megaprojects including mining and petroleum projects, hydroelectric dams, highways, canals, special economic zones and productive chains, eliminating a large part of traditional agriculture and knowledge, violently displacing peasants and imposing crops that favor the transnational corporations interests in the international market.

The measures to be applied in the framework of the FTAA (Free Trade Agreement of the Americas) like free trade of food, imposition of genetically modified seeds, "exclusive" production for the international market, will increase food dependency, the displacement of peasants and the social conflict in Colombia.

We believe that the Colombian rural population's situation is directly related to global problems and the struggle of millions of peasants and small farmers worldwide: food sovereignty, the right of nations and communities to make decisions regarding their economies and food consumption, agrarian reform and the struggle against the transnational corporations' attempt to take over every space through large-scale investment projects and the appropriation of genetic patrimony and cultural knowledge.

These are the reasons why we support the September 16th National Agrarian Mobilization and its demands (see the annex below) in favor of Colombian peasant and small farmers' organizations that will be presented to the new government led by Alvaro Uribe Velez, President of Colombia, who we ask to consider our demands, solve the serious agrarian problems, respect people's constitutional right to expression and mobilization and fully protect the human rights of the people mobilized.

Signed by,

VIA CAMPESINA, International Peasant Movement, International Operative Secretariat, Colonia Alameda, Casa #2025, 11 calle, 3 y 4 avenidas, Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., Honduras, C.A.

Annex: Convocation of the National Agrarian Mobilization.

For dignified life, food sovereignty, against the FTAA and uprooting.

Conscious of the difficult situation that we, the different sectors of the Colombian rural areas, live in and given the current development model's policies, on which basis food imports have been increased, government institutions supporting agricultural producers eliminated, the international coffee pact broken, national sovereignty and productive autonomy done away with, thereby damaging our food security, increasing unemployment and declaring thousands of peasants illegal, (who have previously been forced to move to colonization zones), stimulated violence and the concentration of land in few large unproductive holdings, we, the undersigned social organizations of the agrarian sector, issue a call to participate in the GREAT NATIONAL DAY FOR AGRARIAN AND POPULAR MOBILIZATION.

National producers are being ruined while transnational capital is taking over control and ownership of food production, processing and marketing, as well as of our ways of planting, growing and consuming, subjecting rural areas and farm producers to their (mega) investment projects in mining and petroleum sectors, hydroelectric dams, highways, special economic zones and productive chains, eliminating a large part of agriculture and traditional knowledge, displacing peasants and imposing crops that are of interest to the transnational corporations in relation to the international market, thereby contributing to our country's increased specialization in the production of raw materials to be sold to the world market at low prices, such as oils, flowers, banana and palm crops, all this to the detriment of national food production.

The imposition of the FTAA (Free Trade Agreement of the Americas), will dramatically increase food dependence, the forced displacement of peasants and the social conflict in our country. Meanwhile, transnational food corporations such as Unilever-Bestfoods (the producer of food products such as Maizena, Fruco, Knorr, Mazola and Rama), Phillip Morris (producer of Kraft, Nabisco and Marlboro products), General Foods and Jacobs (who market our coffee), Nestlé (an internationally-owned producer of dairy products (Cicolac) and sauces (California), reign. Many of these companies dominate national markets (through hyper markets), controlling 60% of commerce in Bogotá alone.

The shareholders of these transnational corporations such as Unilever and the members of their boards of directors are also the owners of the petroleum companies, which in the case of Chevron, Texaco and the British Petroleum company (B.P.), and electric utility companies such as Enron, Reliant, Sithe — Termo-Rio, have squandered our national assets. This is also true of the pharmaceutical laboratories and glyphosate factories, like Monsanto, which supply the chemicals used to spray coca and poppy crops as well as the plots of land owned by indigenous, peasant and Afro-Colombian communities. They are also, at the same time, shareholders of companies that produce the helicopters used to implement Plan Colombia; United Technologies is one example. They are also the owners of large banks such as Citibank, JP Morgan, Chase, Barclays, Lloyds, ABN, Dutsche and UBS, among others.

As if this wasn't enough, the outgoing government has prepared a legislative bill that, if approved, will help transnational corporations to consolidate their dominance over the country, by subordinating agricultural producers to them through the transformation of the existing productive chains (into para-state corporative organizations), turning over to them the State's social and productive investment), while what is left of the government organizations at the service of the farm sector is gradually liquidated. The project ignores the collective nature of national genetic patrimony and is attempting to transform it into merchandise, owned by international capital. As well, the new government has announced in different documents and public presentations that the current policies against the nation will be continued and deepened; in other words, a "Firm Hand"; to complement these acts environmental licenses have been approved and agricultural production is being handed over to big corporations, condemning the peasant economy to disappearance, harming not only the rural population but the urban population as well, as is happening in the case of panela (raw cane sugar) production, by the granting of and environmental licenses to the panela refinery owned by the Padilla business consortium in the Cauca region.

The prerequisites that transnational capital are demanding from Colombia in order for it to join the FTAA deepen the domination, dependency and political, economical, cultural and social subordination in our country: to import food, plant genetically modified seeds that are not able to reproduce themselves (Terminator seeds), consume imported products, spray pesticides and produce exclusively for the international market affects not only our economy but also our culture and traditional knowledge, the way in which we relate to the environment, our genetic patrimony and even our own territoriality; in the end - our national identity.

Given all of the above, in a coordinated and collective effort in defense of our national dignity, the peasant economy and food security, as well as the interests of the national agrarian population and the Colombian people in general, we, the social organizations convening the event, call upon rural and urban social sectors and workers' unions to actively participate in the GREAT NATIONAL DAY FOR AGRARIAN AND POPULAR MOBILIZATION AND PROTEST to be held September 16, to demand the following:

  1. No signing of either the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas or the « Fast Track » agreements.
  2. Immediate suspension of the import of agricultural products in order to guarantee food sovereignty.
  3. The writing off of the debts of small and medium producers, suspension of legal proceedings involving embargo and legal demands for payment against them, return of embargoed properties, establishment of development credit and subsidies for peasants and small business owners.
  4. Strengthening of the peasant economy, rural production and the defense of their space. Rejection of the implantation of monopolistic panela (raw cane sugar) processing projects; support of the traditional small-scale productive sector (mining, fishing, etc.), in accordance with its importance and annulling any legislative measure harming them.
  5. Acknowledgement of the right to land as a fundamental right; additionally, an integrated, democratic agrarian reform that includes the annulment of ownership of inadequately used latifundios (large pieces of land owned by a single owner), as well as the expropriation using legal administrative procedures of other pieces of land required for the program and their handing over free of charge to peasants.
  6. No liquidations of national government agricultural institutions, but instead their strengthening by making them more dynamic, providing them with financial resources, and coordinating them. Preservation and strengthening of the Colombian National Institute for Agrarian Reform (INCORA) as a key institution for agrarian reform with the decisive participation of peasants, indigenous people and Afro-Colombians.
  7. Immediate elimination of the pesticide spraying of coca, poppy and marihuana crops, and their gradual substitution through the negotiation of agreements between rural communities, the State and the international community, with financing of sustainable development plans and community life plans.
  8. An end to the forced displacement, murders, disappearances and torture, the dirty war, immediate prompt and integral care and attention to the displaced communities, compensation and return of displaced peasant families, indigenous people and Afro-Colombians to their lands, with full guarantees for their safety and productive projects subsidized by the State.
  9. Effective guarantees for the respect for the right to life and to organize; no to the declaration of a state of internal commotion and to the criminalization of protest; guaranteed protection for the decisive participation of social and popular organizations in the key affairs of the nation's life.
  10. Subsidy of national production and social investment in small and medium producers without the imposition by the State of conditions tying them to particular alliances and productive chains.
  11. Financial compensation for peasant, indigenous and Afro-Colombian women and their families affected by the social and armed conflict, protection of the women leaders and their organizations for social and organizational work, and organized access to social investment programs, especially for women who are heads of families.
  12. Respect and autonomy for the genetic patrimony of rural communities in relation to the country's existing natural resources and for environment, as well as the establishment of mechanisms for sustainable production that make use of communities' traditional knowledge.
  13. Respect and legal acknowledgement of the inalienable nature of the indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities' collective lands, respecting their cultural identity and autonomy, and abolition of Law 1320 of 1998 regulating prior consultation of the indigenous communities in order to exploit natural resources in their territories; as well, that the State grant inalienable status to the territories declared Peasant Reserve Zones and communal property.
  14. Fulfillment of every agreement that different governments or state entities have signed with mobilized social organizations, at the local, regional or national level and reactivation of negotiation mechanisms.
  15. Revision, agreed upon workers, peasants and the community in general, of the following laws: Law 100 on social security, health, pensions and occupational health; Law 715 that reduces the territorial entities' financial resources for health, basic sanitation services, Municipal Units for Farming Technical Assistance (UMATAS) and education (freezing the number of permanent teachers and replacing them with temporarily hired employees with no benefits); Law 617 modifying the municipal political regime and establishing a perverse territorial law; and the body of regulations that impedes the movement of animal-drawn vehicles.
  16. Guarantees for the right to association and collective labor contracts.
  17. Revision of government coffee policy so that small and medium producers enjoy some guarantees.
  18. No privatization of government enterprises and no to the increase in public services charges, as well as the re-categorization of small and medium peasant producers to rate strata « 0 ».
  19. Establishment of a monitoring organization composed of international peasant, Afro-descendant and indigenous organizations to monitor the human rights situation of rural communities in Colombia and the fulfillment of agreements signed with the government, according to the criteria of the participating sectors of this mobilization.
  20. A negotiated resolution of the social and armed conflict, based on social and economic reforms to achieve a lasting peace.
  21. Resolution of the demands presented by regional organizations in commissions to be established in each region for this purpose.

We call upon all Colombian men and women, trade union centrals, the unemployed and informal workers of the rural areas and the cities, every farm sector, the national and international democratic community, to make manifest your disagreement with the implementation of the previously mentioned policies and your solidarity with this struggle and to join efforts against neo-liberal policies and the current development model, which are intended to reduce us to eating mice and roaches as in Argentina, while handing over our resources to international capital.

For dignity, food sovereignty and peace with social justice, everyone join in the national agrarian mobilization and protest!

Bogotá, Colombia, August 2002.

Noticias sobre Colombia | Plan Colombia | ALCA/FTAA | AGP