Since 1996 April 17 has been declared by La Via Campesina “International Day of Peasants’ Struggles.” This day commemorates the slaughter by the Brazilian police of 19 peasants of the landless movement (MST) while they mobilized to get access to some land. Thirteen years later, the struggle for recognition of peasant rights remains a priority of the Via Campesina, one of Grassroots International’s partners.
According to the Via Campesina’s press release,
The current crises (of finance, climate, energy, food and biodiversity) have highlighted the responsibility, fragility and absurdity of the liberal economic system. Logic would demand that governments abandon the policies which are causing such crises, and that safeguards be put in place. However we see the opposite: renewed attempts to conclude the Doha Negotiation Round at the WTO, the multiplication across the world of bilateral free trade agreements, launching of a new green revolution based on biotechnologies in Africa, and so on. The European Union (EU) is even taking up the offensive toward the African countries, aiming for endorsements of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) by June 2009.
Farmers’ and peasants’ organizations, landless workers, rural women and youth are mobilizing on April 17th for the International Day of Peasant’s Struggle. This year, up to 100 actions including demonstrations, street theater, video screenings, direct action, conferences, art shows, local food markets, publications and exchanges are being organized by the international farmers’ movement Via Campesina, its friends and allies.
In Brazil land occupations have already taken place in more than 8 States to demand the settlement of 100,000 families from the landless movement (MST) and to denounce growing unemployment caused by the agro-industry and the economic crisis. In the Spanish State, several groups are organizing about 20 events, including a series of protests against GMOs culminating in a mass demonstration in Zaragoza (¡no quiero trangénicos!).
The 13th International Day of Peasant’s struggle is taking place across a world shaken by a global multi-crisis affecting food and agriculture, the environment and all of financial and economic life.