Below is a statement about Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s nominee for Secretary of Agriculture from The Network in Defense of the Native Corn of Oaxaca, an alliance that includes two of Grassroots International’s partners the Mixe Peoples’ Services and the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca.
Please do me the favor of signing the Ayala Plan, so that everything that we are fighting for is realized. When we succeed some of the people from our meeting have to remain alive so that they can assure that this plan is carried out. – Emiliano Zapata, Ayoxustla, Puebla, 1911
To the media of Oaxaca, of Mexico and of the world,
To peasant and Indigenous movements,
To civil society and to the people in general.
To the President-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador,
The Network in Defense of the Native Corn of Oaxaca, comprising of more than 20 Indigenous and peasant organizations, accompanied also by a number of important researchers, demonstrate our concern and rejection of Víctor Manuel Villalobos, Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s nominee for Secretary of Agriculture.
Morena’s national project clearly states that this project “must respect Indigenous communities and recognize their habits and customs, their autonomous regions, their territories, and their natural resources.” This project clearly contrasts the model proposed by transnational corporations which is supported by the governments aligned with PRIAN. This model, following the neoliberal logic, has removed millions of peasants in the last 40 years from their land and has been supported by Mr. Villalobos, in the last six-year term.
His nomination as Secretary of Agriculture leads us to question the direction in which the Mexican agricultural sector is evolving, as this project claims to be a different national project that hopes to save food sovereignty. However, throughout his long career as a public servant, Villalobos has defended the neoliberal agro-industrial model. As undersecretary of SAGAPRA in 2001, genetic modification caused the contamination of rice native to Oaxaca. No single action has been taken to date to decontaminate them. He also prompted the signing of the transgenic FTA with Canada and the United States, which permits the importation of shipments of conventional grain, like corn, which can contain up to 5% of transgenics, as an “accidental presence”; he also sabotaged the negotiations of the Cartagena Protocol about the biosecurity of Genetically Modified Organisms that took place in Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, in 2003, that raises the precautionary principle of the risks and uncertainties of transgenic organisms. In 2004, he launched the endorsement of the Biosafety and Genetically Modified Organisms Law, referred to as the Monsanto Law.
After his possible appointment was announced, Villalobos declared, “Transgenics are an out of date technology. Today new technology is surpassing transgenics.” Effectively, for the transnational agro-industry, transgenics is an obsolete technology. Why should we wait for the promotion of genetic drivers (that are no different from new transgenics that also contribute to the disappearance of species through a supposed biological combat) if they are promoted in countries like Brazil without taking into account the precautionary principle? Do you intend to promote the use of synthetic biology used by those who feel they are new gods and are capable of manufacturing artificial organisms, among other new technologies?
Many of the organizations exchanged the machete for the electoral vote as a strategy to fight to promote an alternative national model by supporting the candidacy of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. They remember that their bet is for the valorization of the peasantry and the protection of Mother Earth with an agroecological focus as the base, and the support of an alternative project that defends native corn and food sovereignty. At the same time their vote symbolizes the rejection of the agro-industrial model that has harmed the environment, facilitated violent dispossession processes, and has provoked the massive displacement of the rural population toward the peripheries of misery.
Therefore, we affirm the necessity of a policy that supports the countryside and the farmers, encourages agroecology, protects and creates food sovereignty, and determines just prices for our communities instead of the made-up capitalist model, dictated by the interests of the big Capital that wants to control the Mexican and global processed food system.
Because of this we are here to loudly affirm that our peasant agriculture can feed our community while maintaining the fertility of our soil and reducing global warming. Our farming techniques conserve biodiversity, the peasant seeds, and the native corn that form the base of our identity, our gastronomy, and our corn growers philosophy that is reflected throughout the distinct geographies of our state and our country. We know that the public offices and their performance (by doing them in our communities) reflect the agreement of those in office with their people and their struggles. In our communities, the people are in command. Therefore, we demand that Lic. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the President-elect heed the voices and opinions of farming communities.
The Network in Defense of the Native Corn of Oaxaca demands compliance with the signed agreement in the National Plan for the peasants and Indigenous communities. We energetically pronounce ourselves against any agricultural technological/scientific corporative that intends to put the control of the seeds and food sovereignty of Mexico in the hands of big business. The seeds, the earth, and the production of food belong to the people. Therefore, we affirm that the nomination of Victor Manuel Villalobos does not represent the interests of Indigenous and peasant communities, and we demand his early dismissal for the good of the people and the Mexican countryside in general.
Long live Zapata! Corn must survive.
“2014-2024 decade in defense of Native Corn and of Indigenous and Peasant Communities of Mexico”
The Network in Defense of the Native Corn of Oaxaca