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International Caravans for Life, Resistance, and Climate Justice in Mexico

The Via Campesina – a Grassroots International partner – is organizing a long march in Mexico for life and environmental justice, prior to the United Nations conference on Climate Change in Cancun. Led by indigenous and peasant families, the caravans will depart from different locations and converge in Mexico City’s Zocalo for a mass demonstration on November 30. Along the way, participants will visit communities affected by environmental disasters, such as those caused by the San Javier mining site in the state of San Luis de Potosí and El Zapotillo Dam in Jalisco. This is part of the effort to build solidarity among different movements – of peasants, indigenous peoples, and those affected by mega projects such as dams – and to move a common vision and agenda for climate justice. The Via Campesina press release below describes the event and explains the larger context in which rural and urban people are working together for real solutions to climate change.

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Over a thousand women and men, farmers, indigenous people, urban and rural people affected by social and environmental destruction are planning to march in 5 caravans towards Cancun, Mexico, in protest against the indolence of the dominant countries and capitalists of the world gathering for the conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from November 29 to December 10, 2010.    The caravans co-organised by the National Assembly of People Affected by the Environment (AAA) and the international peasant’s movement La Via Campesina and by a convergence of diverse social movements from the United States, Canada and Mexico will kick off in San Luis Potosi, Guadalajara, and Acapulco, joining other rural, urban and student movements in Mexico City on November 30 for a mass protest for environmental and social justice . Two other caravans will then depart from Oaxaca and Chiapas, all converging to Cancun on December 3 for the inauguration of the Farmers’s and Indigenous Camp organized by La Via Campesina.  The caravans’ journeys will bring local struggles against social and environmental injustices into the limelight as the global community convenes for the climate negotiations in Cancun. They will denounce the widespread apathy in the face of the current socio-environmental scandals, as well as the Mexican government’s maneuvering to implement mega-projects for “Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM)” which in fact devastate communities and the environment. This is the case of the large industrial pig farms such as Smithfield, the production of agrofuels for airplanes, the “semi- remediation” of open air garbage dumps, large hydro-dams and new GMO extensions.    In solidarity with this movement against corporate greed in the name of “climate change”, Via Campesina farmers from around the world and other activists will join the caravans. According to Henry Saragih, general coordinator of La Via Campesina, “leaders from Asia will also march with the affected people of Mexico and North America. In my country Indonesia, people also lead hundreds even thousands of struggles, at local level, against commercial projects destroying people livelihoods and the environment”.   Josie Riffaud, a Via Campesina farmer leader from France also insisted that “the solutions being discussed in the climate talks are very scary. We are being told that some projects will help solve the current climate chaos, but it is an illusion. We are seeing an increase of monoculture plantations, genetic engeneering, agrofuels plantations, landgrabbing, all of this will further increase devastation and exclusion”.    In Cancun, La Via Campesina and its allies will organise an “Alternative Global Forum for Life and Environmental and Social Justice”, on December 5 through 8, and a mass mobilisation of peasants, indigenous and social movements on December 7. At the same time, in Cancun and around the world, thousands of people and organisation will mobilise creating “thousands of Cancuns” to denounce the false solutions against climate change and to promote a real system change.