Our global partner, La Via Campesina, calls on progressive people, small farmers, and workers to use April 17 creatively amid COVID-19. Though we might be physically distant, we can still take collective action to push to transform our food systems, and our world.
March 24, Harare
On April 17, La Via Campesina will commemorate the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle in a context that once again validates the historical role of the peasantry in societies and their fundamental task of feeding the people, even in times of war, fascism, authoritarianism and pandemics.
COVID-19 has crippled the world. This deadly virus has exposed the vulnerability of the current globalised food system dominated by industrial agriculture, and the dangers it poses to all life forms. We should learn from this crisis and invest in building local, resilient and diverse food systems. States must begin by implementing ‘food sovereignty’ through agroecological production and enabled by popular agrarian reforms. Again, the extraordinary circumstances facing humanity today must compel all countries to protect and guarantee the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, as articulated in the United Nations Declaration, approved in 2018 (UNDROP).
Let’s Build Solidarity!
During the week of April 17 – La Via Campesina – will continue to expose the perils of capitalism and its devastating consequences – the political, social, economic and health crises. The circumstances of the impoverished urban and rural working classes have become more precarious with the spread of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic fallout. Therefore, the world’s people need to grab this moment and fight back and construct solidarity and class alliances, between rural and urban areas. Alliances between the vulnerable sectors of the society, the small-scale food producers and consumers are a must to promote fair trade, healthy food. During this crisis, we must expose and denounce the profit-driven expansionist policy of the transnational companies.
24 Years Ago
As we did 24 years ago in Eldorado dos Carajás, in a single voice of resistance and by keeping alive our long history of struggle – we, the peasants, indigenous people, pastoralists, fishers, agricultural workers, migrants, racially oppressed people and the organised working class – denounce the erosion of our rights as workers, our right to health and education. We come together to condemn the systematic violence, militarisation and oppression unleashed on our people and the steady erosion of democratic principles. This pandemic reminds us of the need to have robust public health systems, which have over the years been systematically crippled by our Governments in favour of privatisation. It has also exposed the real face of the profit mongers – the agribusinesses, pharmaceutical companies and other transnational companies seeking business opportunities in these difficult times.
Meanwhile, millions of us – the small-scale food producers – continue to produce food and feed the people, guaranteeing the national food supply and food sovereignty. We continue to do this even in the context of quarantine, closed borders and curfew, by respecting biodiversity and through agroecological production. We put the life of our soil and mother earth as our priority and engage with small peasant markets that are more just, based on solidarity and reciprocity and free from poison and speculation.
COVID-19: Peasants, Migrants and Workers at Risk
As La Via Campesina, we are concerned about the condition of agricultural and migrant workers, who operate under precarious working conditions and without adequate access to healthcare or relevant safety measures. Members of La Via Campesina in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas are demanding that their governments respond quickly and responsibly to the needs of the vast majority and not just ‘provide a stimulus for the coronavirus capitalists’. We do not want economic measures that benefit the elites as they did in the past by bailing out banks and businesses to “save the economy”. We demand justice for the peasantry and the oppressed sectors of the world. This April 17, 2020, we call upon our members and allies to be alert against all kinds of opportunism in this global crisis.
#StayHomeButNotSilent – We Call for Creative Mobilisations!
A moment of crisis like this reveals that our interrelationship with each other as humans is important. We are much more interconnected with each other than this brutal economic system leads us to believe. However, to protect the health and integrity of our members, friends, and allies, we are not issuing a call for land occupations, mass marches, public talks, public forums or film screenings this April 17, 2020. BUT:
- Stay at home, and pledge not to remain silent. Now is the time to carry out creative struggles from within the confines of our farms and houses.
- Let us transform the windows, the terraces, the gardens and fields into our demonstration squares, turn our pots and pans into drums of resistance.
- Let us make our banners of denunciation! Let our walls speak and show our strength and resistance amid this scenario of crisis and capitalist hegemony.
- Let us build solidarity and think about how to share with the community, neighbourhood or friends and how to help the most vulnerable people.
- Let us pledge to consume food from local peasant cooperatives and communities, and not from the transnationals! Go to the local markets, buy directly from the producer and your neighbourhood shops and promote humanist values.