Posts Tagged ‘Via Campesina’

Brasilien: “Gegen die Rio +20 – Show”

Montag, Juni 4th, 2012

“Reclaiming our future: Rio +20 and Beyond

La Vía Campesina Call to action

On 20-22 June 2012, governments from around the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to commemorate 20 years of the “Earth Summit”, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that first established a global agenda for “sustainable development”. During the 1992 summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and the Convention to Combat Desertification, were all adopted. The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was also established to ensure effective follow-up of the UNCED “Earth Summit.”



Twenty years later, governments should have reconvened to review their commitments and progress, but in reality the issue to debate will be the “green economy” led development, propagating the same capitalist model that caused climate chaos and other deep social and environmental crises.

La Vía Campesina will mobilize for this historical moment, representing the voice of the millions of peasants and indigenous globally who are defending the well-being of all by implementing food sovereignty and the protection of natural resources.

20 Years later: a planet in crisis

20 years after the Earth Summit, life has become more difficult for the majority of the planet’s inhabitants. The number of hungry people has increased to almost one billion, which means that one out of six human beings is going hungry, women and small farmers being the most affected. Meanwhile, the environment is depleting fast, biodiversity is being destroyed, water resources are getting scarce and contaminated and the climate is in crisis. This is jeopardizing our very future on Earth while poverty and inequalities are increasing.

The idea of “Sustainable Development” put forward in 1992, which merged “development” and “environment” concerns, did not solve the problem because it did not stop the capitalist system in its race towards profit at the expense of all human and natural resources:

- The food system is increasingly in the grips of large corporations seeking profit, not aimed at feeding the people.

- The Convention on Biodiversiy has created benefit sharing mechanisms but at the end of the day, they legitimize the capitalization of genetic resources by the private sector.

- The UN Convention on Climate Change, instead of forcing countries and corporations to reduce pollution, invented a new profitable and speculative commodity with the carbon trading mechanisms, allowing the polluter to continue polluting and profit from it.

The framework of “sustainable development” continues to see peasant agriculture as backwards and responsible for the deterioration of natural resources and the environment. The same paradigm of development is perpetuated, which is nothing less than the development of capitalism by means of a “green industrialization.”

The “Green Economy” – Final Enclosure?

Today the “greening of the economy” pushed forward in the run-up to Rio+20 is based on the same logic and mechanisms that are destroying the planet and keeping people hungry. For instance, it seeks to incorporate aspects of the failed “green revolution” in a broader manner in order to ensure the needs of the industrial sectors of production, such as promoting the uniformity of seeds, patented seeds by corporation, genetically modified seeds, etc.

The capitalist economy, based on the over-exploitation of natural resources and human beings, will never become “green.” It is based on limitless growth in a planet that has reached its limits and on the commoditization of the remaining natural resources that have until now remained un-priced or in control of the public sector.

In this period of financial crisis, global capitalism seeks new forms of accumulation. It is during these periods of crisis in which capitalism can most accumulate. Today, it is the territories and the commons which are the main target of capital. As such, the green economy is nothing more than a green mask for capitalism. It is also a new mechanism to appropriate our forests, rivers, land… of our territories!

Since last year’s preparatory meetings towards Rio+20, agriculture has been cited as one of the causes of climate change. Yet no distinction is made in the official negotiations between industrial and peasant agriculture, and no explicit difference between their effects on poverty, climate and other social issues we face.

The “green economy” is marketed as a way to implement sustainable development for those countries which continue to experience high and disproportionate levels of poverty, hunger and misery. In reality, what is proposed is another phase of what we identify as “green structural adjustment programs” which seek to align and re-order the national markets and regulations to submit to the fast incoming “green capitalism”.

Investment capital now seeks new markets through the “green economy”; securing the natural resources of the world as primary inputs and commodities for industrial production, as carbon sinks or even for speculation. This is being demonstrated by increasing land grabs globally, for crop production for both export and agrofuels. New proposals such as “climate smart” agriculture, which calls for the “sustainable intensification” of agriculture, also embody the goal of corporations and agri-business to over exploit the earth while labeling it “green”, and making peasants dependent on high-cost seeds and inputs. New generations of polluting permits are issued for the industrial sector, especially those found in developed countries, such as what is expected from programs such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD++) and other environmental services schemes.

The green economy seeks to ensure that the ecological and biological systems of our planet remain at the service of capitalism, by the intense use of various forms of biotechnologies, synthetic technologies and geo-engineering. GMO’s and biotechnology are key parts of the industrial agriculture promoted within the framework of “green economy”.

The promotion of the green economy includes calls for the full implementation of the WTO Doha Round, the elimination of all trade barriers to incoming “green solutions,” the financing and support of financial institutions such as the World Bank and projects such as US-AID programs, and the continued legitimization of the international institutions that serve to perpetuate and promote global capitalism.

Why peasant farmers mobilize

Small-scale farmers, family farmers, landless people, indigenous people, migrants – women and men – are now determined to mobilize to oppose any commodification of life and to propose another way to organize our relationship with nature on earth based on agrarian reform, food sovereignty and peasant based agroecology.

We reject the “Green Economy” as it is pushed now in the Rio+20 process. It is a new mask to hide an ever-present, growing greed of corporations and food imperialism in the world.

  • We oppose carbon trading and all market solutions to the environmental crisis including the proposed liberalization of environmental services under the WTO.
  • We reject REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) which allows rich countries to avoid cutting their carbon emissions by financing often damaging projects in developing countries.
  • We expose and reject the corporate capture of the rio+20 process and all multilateral processes within the United Nations.
  • We oppose land grabs, water grabs, seeds grabs, forest grabs – all resources’ grabs!
  • We defend the natural resources in our countries as a matter of national and popular sovereignty, to face the offensive and private appropriation of capital;
  • We demand public policies from governments for the protection of the interests of the majority of the population, especially the poorest, and landless workers;
  • We demand a complete ban on geoengineering projects and experiments; under the guise of ‘green’ or ‘clean’ technology to the benefit of agribusiness. This includes new technologies being proposed for adaptation and mitigation to climate change under the banners of “geo-engineering” and “climate smart agriculture”, including false solutions like transgenic plants supposed to adapt to climate change, and “biochar” purported to replenish the soil with carbon.
  • We resolve to protect our native seeds and our right to exchange seeds.
  • We demand genuine agrarian reform that distributes and redistributes the land – the main factor in production – especially taking into account women and youth. Land must be a means of production to secure the livelihood of the people and must not be a commodity subject to speculation on international markets. We reject “market assisted land reform”, which is another word for land privatization.
  • We struggle for small scale sustainable food production for community and local consumption as opposed to agribusiness, monoculture plantations for export.
  • We continue to organize and practice agroecology based production, ensuring food sovereignty for all and implementing collective management of our resources

Call to action

We call for a major world mobilization to be held between 18-26 June in Rio de Janeiro, with a permanent camp, for the Peoples Summit, to counter the summit of governments and capital.

We will be in Rio at the People’s Summit where anti-capitalist struggles of the world will meet and together we will propose real solutions. The People’s Permanent Assembly, between the 18 and 22, will present the daily struggles against the promoters of capitalism y the attacks against our lands. Today, Rio de Janeiro is one of the cities which receive the most contributions from global capital and will host the Soccer World Cup and Olympics. We will unite our symbolic struggles from the urban to the landless movements and fishers.

We also declare the week of June 5th, as a major world week in defense of the environment and against transnational corporations and invite everyone across the world to mobilize:

  • Defend sustainable peasant agriculture
  • Occupy land for the production of agroecological and non-market dominated food
  • Reclaim and exchange native seeds
  • Protest against Exchange and Marketing Board offices and call for an end to speculative markets on commodities and land
  • Hold local assemblies of People Affected by Capitalism
  • Dream of a different world and create it!!
  • The future that we want is based on Agrarian Reform, Peasant’s based sustainable agriculture and Food Sovereignty!




(Quelle: La Via Campesina.)

Siehe auch:

Rio+20: INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN OF STRUGGLES: Peoples of the World against the Commodification of Nature

Lateinamerika: Land und Freiheit

Samstag, Dezember 17th, 2011

“Die Landfrage bleibt ungelöst

Trotz zahlreicher Landreformen hat sich an der ungleichen Verteilung des Bodens in Lateinamerika bis heute wenig geändert

Von Tobias Lambert

Bereits seit der Kolonialzeit ist die ungleiche Landverteilung in Lateinamerika ein gewichtiges Problem. Eine Reihe von Landreformen im 20. Jahrhundert trugen mehr zur Entstehung und kapitalistischen Modernisierung des Agrobusiness’ bei, als dass sie die kleinbäuerliche Landwirtschaft gestärkt haben. Durch neoliberale Reformen wurde diese seit den 1980er Jahren weiter geschwächt. Doch es gibt Widerstand. Das weltweite kleinbäuerliche Netzwerk La Via Campesina bietet Alternativen zum hochindustrialisierten Agrobusiness an.

Landwirtschaft ist wieder schwer in Mode. Aufgrund des stetig steigenden Bedarfs an Lebensmitteln und der Begrenztheit der Anbauflächen, verheißt der Agrarsektor auf lange Sicht gute Geschäfte. Regierungen und Unternehmen, Investment- und Pensionsfonds kaufen oder pachten weltweit Ackerland, um das anzubauen, womit gerade Geld zu verdienen ist. Verlierer_innen des globalen Trends sind die kleinbäuerliche Landwirtschaft, die Umwelt und die eine Milliarde hungernder Menschen weltweit. Vom sogenannten Land Grabbing sind vor allem Länder in Afrika, Asien und Lateinamerika betroffen. Allesamt Regionen, in denen in unterschiedlichem Maße Hunger existiert, also im Jargon der internationalen Organisationen die Ernährungssicherheit nicht garantiert ist.

Ungerechte Strukturen von Landbesitz, die Involvierung internationaler Akteure und die Marginalisierung kleinbäuerlicher Landwirtschaft sind in Lateinamerika alles andere als neu. Seit der Kolonialzeit, der daraus resultierenden Verdrängung indigener Landwirtschaftskonzepte und Enteignungen kommunalen Besitzes, ist die Landfrage auf dem Kontinent von Bedeutung. Das landwirtschaftliche System der Kolonialzeit, wo die haciendas weniger Großgrundbesitzer_innen einen Großteil des Landes umfassten, überstand die Unabhängigkeit der lateinamerikanischen Staaten relativ unbeschadet. Trotz zahlreicher Versuche, Landreformen durchzuführen, hat sich an der ungleichen Landverteilung bis heute wenig geändert.

Schon im 19. Jahrhundert führte die Agrarfrage zu Konflikten. Den ersten tatsächlichen Einschnitt erlitt das hacienda-System aber erst mit der mexikanischen Revolution (1910 bis 1920). Emiliano Zapata führte im Süden Mexikos eine revolutionäre Agrarbewegung an und verteilte Land an jene “die es bearbeiten”. Im Norden konfiszierte Pancho Villa ebenfalls große Ländereien und stellte diese unter staatliche Verwaltung. Die vor allem im Süden stattfindende Agrarrevolution wurde letztlich rechtlich in der Verfassung von 1917 kanalisiert. Kernpunkt war Artikel 27, durch den gemeinschaftlich genutztes Land juristisch anerkannt wurde. Diese so genannten ejidos durften weder verkauft noch geteilt werden. Die in der Verfassung vorgesehenen Reformen kamen allerdings erst unter der Präsidentschaft von Lázaro Cárdenas (1934 bis 1940) in Fahrt, an deren Ende das Gemeindeland knapp die Hälfte der landwirtschaftlich nutzbaren Fläche Mexikos ausmachte. Das hacienda-System verlor somit erstmals in einem lateinamerikanischen Land die Vormachtstellung. Die Agraroligarchie blieb während der Regierungszeit der Revolutionären Institutionellen Partei (PRI) dennoch politisch einflussreich und sicherte sich staatliche Subventionen und Kredite.

Das zweite Beispiel einer bedeutenden Landreform fand ab 1953 in Bolivien statt. Im Rahmen der Revolution wurden massiv Ländereien an Kleinbäuerinnen und Kleinbauern verteilt. Die traditionellen Landrechte der indigenen Mehrheitsbevölkerung wurden jedoch nicht wieder hergestellt. Vielmehr sorgte die Agrarreform für eine kapitalistische Modernisierung des Agrarsektors, der durch ein wirtschaftlich ineffizientes Feudalsystem geprägt war. Das Latifundium an sich blieb weiterhin bestehen, vor allem im östlichen Tiefland. Die reine Verteilung von Minifundien blieb aufgrund einer fehlenden weiterführenden Agrarpolitik unzureichend.

Ein weiterer ambitionierter Versuch einer Landreform scheiterte 1954 gewaltsam. In Guatemala besaß die US-amerikanische United Fruit Company (heute Chiquita) in der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts etwa 42 Prozent der gesamten landwirtschaftlichen Nutzflächen und stellte machtpolitisch einen “Staat im Staate” dar. 85 Prozent der Ländereien ließ das Unternehmen brach liegen. Ab 1944 enteigneten die sozialdemokratische Regierungen unter Juan José Arévalo und Jacobo Árbenz insgesamt ein Fünftel des Agrarlandes. Dem zehnjährigen politischen Frühling setzte der Putsch, der logistisch wie finanziell von den USA unterstützt wurde, ein jähes Ende. Der Agrarreformprozess wurde anschließend rasch umgekehrt, Guatemala leidet bis heute an den Folgen.

Die größten Auswirkungen auf die Agraroligarchien des Kontinents hatte im 20. Jahrhundert die kubanische Revolution von 1959, die eine radikale Landreform in Gang setzte. Großgrundbesitz wurde enteignet und Kleinbäuerinnen und -bauern zur Verfügung gestellt. Um Protesten und Widerstandsbewegungen in anderen Ländern der Region den Wind aus den Segeln zu nehmen und ein Übergreifen der Revolution zu verhindern, machten sich die USA für geordnete Landreformen auf dem Kontinent stark. Im Rahmen der von US-Präsident John F. Kennedy ins Leben gerufenen “Allianz für den Fortschritt” führten in den 1960er und 1970er Jahren die meisten lateinamerikanischen Länder Agrarreformen durch, wobei sie überwiegend Staatsland verteilten. Zwar konnte der kleinbäuerliche Sektor in einigen Ländern durchaus von den Landverteilungen profitieren, der nachhaltigere Effekt bestand jedoch in einer kapitalistischen Modernisierung der großen Produktionseinheiten. Im Rahmen des hacienda-Systems war die Produktivität zuvor gering gewesen, viel Land lag brach. Um Enteignungen zu verhindern, die rechtlich häufig ab einer bestimmten Größe des Latifundiums möglich waren, teilten einige Großgrundbesitzer_innen ihre Ländereien in mehrere Einheiten unter der Familie auf oder verkauften einen Teil. Es entstand ein zweigeteiltes System aus modernem Agrobusiness und kleinbäuerlicher Landwirtschaft, die zum großen Teil als Subsistenzwirtschaft betrieben wurde.
In den meisten Ländern waren die Agrarreformen darüber hinaus recht oberflächlich. Die weitestgehenden Umverteilungen fanden im 20. Jahrhundert im Rahmen von revolutionären Prozessen statt. In Bolivien und Kuba wurden etwa 80 Prozent des gesamten Agrarlandes umverteilt. In Mexiko, Chile (unter Eduardo Frei und Salvador Allende) , Peru (unter dem linken Militär Velasco Alvarado) und später Nicaragua (unter den Sandinist_innen ab 1979) war es etwa die Hälfte. Zwischen 15 und 25 Prozent des Bodens wurden in Kolumbien, Venezuela, Panama, El Salvador und der Dominikanischen Republik verteilt. In Ecuador, Costa Rica, Honduras und Uruguay und Paraguay waren es noch weniger. In Brasilien kam es erst ab Mitte der 1980er Jahre zu kleineren Umverteilungen, in Argentinien fand hingegen gar keine Landreform statt.
Zwar spielten Bauernbewegungen in vielen dieser Prozesse eine fordernde Rolle und wirkten bei der Ausgestaltung von Landreformen mit. Durchgeführt wurden die in Folge der kubanischen Revolution angeschobenen Reformen aber weitestgehend von Regierungsseite her. Die Agrarfrage konnte letztlich in keinem Land zugunsten der campesin@s gelöst werden. Weitergehende finanzielle und technische Unterstützung für die Kleinbäuerinnen und Kleinbauern blieb in der Regel aus, nach einigen Jahren konzentrierte sich der Landbesitz wieder zunehmend. Durch den Modernisierungsschub profitierte das Agrobusiness von den Reformen weitaus mehr als der kleinbäuerliche Sektor.

Die neoliberale Wende, die fast alle Länder des Kontinents in den 1980er und 1990er Jahren erfasste, sorgte für ein vorläufiges Ende der von oben forcierten Landreformen. Ausgehend von Chile, wo die Militärdiktatur nach dem Putsch gegen Salvador Allende bereits in den 1970er Jahren mit neoliberaler Wirtschaftspolitik experimentierte, sollte die Landwirtschaft nun vor allem dazu dienen, exportfähige Waren zu produzieren. Durch den Anbau nicht-traditioneller Agrargüter wie Blumen, Äpfel oder Nüsse sollten gemäß der Theorie des Freihandels komparative Kostenvorteile ausgenutzt werden. Nach der Schuldenkrise Anfang der 1980er Jahre, verordneten der Internationale Währungsfonds (IWF), die Weltbank und die US-amerikanische Regierung den meisten lateinamerikanischen Ländern Strukturanpassungsprogramme. Die staatliche Unterstützung kleinbäuerlicher Landwirtschaft wurde radikal zurückgefahren. Die gleichzeitig einsetzende Handelsliberalisierung fiel für die Kleinbäuerinnen und Kleinbauern in ganz Lateinamerika verheerend aus und sorgte für dramatische soziale Folgen. Während ihnen der Zugang zu nordamerikanischen oder europäischen Märkten bis heute weitgehend verschlossen bleibt, konnten sie mit hochsubventionierten Agrarimporten aus dem Ausland nicht konkurrieren. Als Symbol für die neoliberale Zerstörung der kleinbäuerlichen Landwirtschaft gilt die Gleichstellung des seit 1917 in der mexikanischen Verfassung verankerten ejidos mit Privatland (siehe Artikel von Alke Jenss in diesem Dossier). Um die Auflagen für das Inkrafttretens des Nordamerikanischen Freihandelsabkommens (NAFTA) zu erfüllen, wurde im Jahr 1992 unter der Präsidentschaft von Carlos Salinas de Gortari der entsprechende Verfassungsartikel 27 aufgehoben, so dass ejidos nun geteilt, verkauft, verpachtet oder als Sicherheit bei Krediten verwendet werden konnten. Der neozapatistische Aufstand, der am 1. Januar 1994, dem Tag des Inkrafttretens von NAFTA für Aufsehen sorgte, ist auch in dem Zusammenhang zu sehen.

Unter völlig anderen wirtschaftlichen Vorzeichen als in den 1960er Jahren stieg in den 1990er Jahren die Weltbank in das Thema der Landverteilung ein. Durch die marktgestützte Landreform sollte Brachland aktiviert und ein Markt für Land etabliert werden. Die Idee war, dass unter Vermittlung des Staates willige Verkäufer_innen und Käufer_innen zusammengeführt werden. Dafür notwendige Kredite sollten später aus den Erträgen zurückgezahlt werden. Abgesehen davon, dass die guten Böden in der Regel sowieso nicht zum Verkauf standen, hatten Kleinbäuerinnen und -bauern sowie Landlose nichts von dem Konzept. Weder verfügten sie über Kapital noch über die Aussicht, unter den gegebenen neoliberalen Rahmenbedingungen einen Kredit jemals zurückzahlen zu können. Zur gleichen Zeit begann der US-amerikanische Biotech-Konzern Monsanto seinen Siegeszug von gentechnisch veränderten Organismen in Lateinamerika. Argentinien war 1996 das Einfallstor für den Anbau von Gen-Soja in Südamerika. Fast die gesamte in Argentinien angebaute Soja ist heute Monsantos genetisch modifiziertes Roundup Ready, das gegen das gleichnamige hochgiftige Herbizid resistent ist, welches von Monsanto im Gesamtpaket gleich mitgeliefert wird. Dieses vernichtet Unkraut, Insekten und alles weitere außer der Sojapflanze selbst. Als häufigste Folgen des flächendeckenden Pestizideinsatzes sind bei Menschen unter anderem Erbrechen, Durchfall, Allergien, Krebsleiden, Fehlgeburten und Missbildungen sowie gravierende Schäden für die Umwelt dokumentiert. Seit der Einführung von Gen-Soja in Südamerika ist der Einsatz von Herbiziden drastisch gestiegen. Durch industrielle Landwirtschaft und den damit einhergehenden Monokulturen verschlechtert sich zudem die Bodenqualität, wird Wald abgeholzt, die Artenvielfalt dezimiert und es gehen traditionelle Anbaumethoden sowie die Vielfältigkeit einheimischen Saatguts verloren.
Um sich gegen den fortwährenden Niedergang der kleinbäuerlichen Landwirtschaft zur Wehr zu setzen, begannen Organisationen von Kleinbäuerinnen und Kleinbauern sowie Landlose, eine eigene Agenda zu verfolgen. 1993 gründete sich mit La Via Campesina (Der bäuerliche Weg) ein weltweiter Zusammenschluss kleinbäuerlicher Organisationen, der in den folgenden Jahren zu einem bedeutenden politischen Akteur aufstieg. Einen großen Anteil an der Entstehung und internen Entwicklung von La Via Campesina hatte die brasilianische Landlosenbewegung MST, die bereits 1984 gegründet worden war und in Brasilien bis heute Landbesetzungen durchführt. La Via Campesina kritisiert das herrschende Paradigma der Lebensmittelproduktion in seiner ganzen Breite, angefangen bei der Monokultur über industrielle Großlandwirtschaft bis hin zur Biotechnologie. Während internationale Organisationen meist Ernährungssicherheit propagieren, bei der es ausschließlich darum geht, den Menschen Zugang zu Lebensmitteln zu ermöglichen, egal ob diese importiert werden oder nicht, hat das Netzwerk den Begriff der Ernährungssouveränität entwickelt. Dieser zielt auf Lebensmittelproduktion auf lokaler Ebene ab und sieht vor, dass sich Bauern und Bäuerinnen selbstbestimmt und demokratisch für ihre Formen der Produktion und des Konsums entscheiden. Weitere Bestandteile des Konzepts beinhalten eine integrale Landreform, den Verzicht auf Gentechnik oder die Produktion gesunder Lebensmittel.

Im vergangenen Jahrzehnt haben die Ideen von La Via Campesina sogar Anklang bei lateinamerikanischen Linksregierungen gefunden. Das Konzept der Ernährungssouveränität wird in den Verfassungen von Venezuela, Bolivien und Ecuador explizit als Ziel benannt. Auch das Thema Agrarreform wurde in diesen Ländern von Regierungsseite her wieder aufgegriffen, Enteignungen gelten im Gegensatz zur neoliberalen Ära nicht mehr als Tabu. Den teilweise radikalen Diskursen der Regierenden stehen in der Realität allerdings nur geringe Fortschritte gegenüber (siehe Artikel von Börries Nehe zu Bolivien in diesem Dossier). Die Agrarreformen kommen nur schleppend voran und die betroffenen Großgrundbesitzer_innen und Agrounternehmen wehren sich mit allen Mitteln. So sind etwa in Venezuela im vergangenen Jahrzehnt rund 300 Bauernaktivist_innen ermordet worden. Die in der Justiz verbreitete Korruption und fehlender politischer Wille verhindern fast immer strafrechtliche Konsequenzen. Auch die linken Regierungen in Lateinamerika halten zudem grundsätzlich an einem extraktivistischen, auf höchstmögliche Ausbeutung von Rohstoffen und Land gerichteten Wirtschaftsmodell fest.

Die Rahmenbedingungen für Landreformen haben sich in den letzten beiden Jahrzehnten zunehmend verschlechtert. Anstelle der einheimischen, mitunter physisch präsenten Großgrundbesitzer_innen treten nun häufig Unternehmen des Agrobusiness und international tätige Investmentgesellschaften mit teils undurchsichtigen Besitzstrukturen. Internationale Freihandelsverträge und bilaterale Investitionsschutzabkommen erschweren Enteignungen, indem sie hohe und kostspielige Hürden errichten. Die Höhe der bei Enteignungen zu zahlenden “angemessenen” Entschädigungen liegt in der Regel deutlich über dem Niveau, das nach jeweiligem Landesrecht beziehungsweise den finanziellen Möglichkeiten einer Regierung möglich wäre.

Die Agrarfrage in Lateinamerika ist auch heute nach wie vor ungelöst. Noch immer ist Lateinamerika die Region mit der ungleichsten Landverteilung weltweit. Ein modernes Agrobusiness, das kaum Leute beschäftigt, steht einem marginalisierten kleinbäuerlichen Sektor gegenüber. Dieser gilt in Entwicklungsdebatten häufig als anachronistisch, obwohl er für die Ernährungssicherheit und -souveränität unabdingbar ist. In vielen Ländern hat die kleinbäuerliche Landwirtschaft vor der politisch übergestülpten Handelsliberalisierung einen Großteil der Lebensmittel produziert, die heute importiert werden. Die Landbevölkerung lebt in allen Ländern Lateinamerikas in relativer und häufig auch absoluter Armut. Zudem werden zahlreiche Landkonflikte gewaltsam ausgetragen. Soja- und Ölpalmanbau sorgen für Vertreibungen in Ländern wie Kolumbien, Honduras, Paraguay oder Brasilien. Auch wenn Landreformen alleine nicht ausreichen, sind sie zumindest Grundbedingung, um den kleinbäuerlichen Sektor zu stärken und mehr Menschen ein Auskommen und Nahrung zu ermöglichen. Die bäuerlichen sozialen Bewegungen gewinnen an Stärke. Doch sie stehen einem kapitalistisch-industriellen Agrobusiness gegenüber, das weltweit agiert und hochprofitabel wirtschaftet. Würden die Folgekosten für Umwelt und Gesundheit mit einberechnet, sähe es hingegen anders aus.”


(Quelle: Lateinamerika Nachrichten.)


Die Zeitschrift “Lateinamerika Nachrichten” finden Sie in unserer Bücherei.

Haiti: Lebendiger Internationalismus

Montag, Juni 27th, 2011

“Learning and Constructing with Haitians

Internationalism between Peoples

By Beverly Bell

Bev Bell, a long time Grassroots International ally, recently published the article below, which describes a Learning Exchange program between Brazil and Haiti, supported by Grassroots International. Bev has worked with Haitian social movements, including many of Grassroots International’s partners, for decades.  This piece describes the dynamic cross-border collaboration between partners in Haiti and Brazil. Jose Luis Patrola of the Landless Workers Movement puts it well: “We’re not here to teach, we’re here to learn.” He also acknowledged the financial support provided by Grassroots that helped make the Haiti-Brazil learning exchange happen. Perhaps it’s largely true, as noted by Patrola, that social movements have forgotten the concept of internationalism. But our Haitian and Brazilian partnerships are working hand-in-hand to change that.


“Internationalism between Peoples”: Learning and Constructing with Haitians
By Bev Bell

Jose Luis Patrola is a history professor, farmer, and member of the Brazilian land reform group, the Rural Landless Workers’ Movement, or MST. He has lived in Haiti for three years. There, he coordinates the MST’s program, an exchange of agricultural and technical cooperation between Haitians and Brazilians. In a departure from many international programs of “teaching” and “aiding” Haitians, Patrola speaks here about mutual learning and respect.

We are here in Haiti in an educational solidarity exchange program. We’re not here to teach. We are here to learn.

In our work, there’s great respect for Haitian farmers and movements. That’s something that has been greatly lacking: respect. Not only from foreigners, but from Haitian elites who don’t acknowledge their own peoples.

The MST and the Vía Campesina [a coalition of farmers and landless people’s organizations from around the world] in Brazil have had contact with small farmers in Haiti for many years now. Since 2004, we’d been thinking about a solidarity exchange program between campesino [small farmer] movements in Brazil and Haiti. We were finally able to make this possible starting in January 2009, when the MST and other small farmers’ organizations from Brazil sent a brigade of four people to identify what the solidarity exchange would look like. The exchange now works to achieve horizontal solidarity between these farmers.

With the earthquake in January [2010], things changed a little, and movements in Haiti suggested to us the possibility of strengthening the brigade with more Brazilians. We organized a brigadeof 31 people, who sleep and eat in the Haitian farmers’ homes.

There are different farmer movements from Brazil that are participating. The MST is the biggest group, but there’s also the Movement of Small-scale Agriculturalists, the Movement of Women Campesinas, the Movement of Dam-Affected People, and the Pastoral Commission of the Earth that’s part of the Catholic Church, and a representative of the Movement of Unemployed Workers.

The brigade consists of people with different skills. We have farmers. We have technical agronomists that are also children of farmers. We have veterinarians, professors, construction specialists, and two medics. We’re doing a little bit of everything; the diversity is very important. A doctor, for example, helped install a cistern for water catchment, and professors are also working the land.

The program works at two levels: an organizational level to strengthen peasant organization and autonomy, and a technical level with programs of cooperation, including agricultural production and training schools.

We can say that this exchange is organized in four fundamental components. First is the exchange, a big opportunity for cultural and intellectual training. We have 30 Brazilians here, which is like a training school in itself, because the starting point of their time here is learning.

And we have sent [Haitians] from here to over there as a form of horizontal solidarity. The people spent one month in a school in Brazil where they had history, geography, and Portuguese classes. And after 30 days, the Haitians went to different parts of Brazil to get to know about the different things we’re doing. We want Haitians to have the opportunity to understand what’s happening in Brazil, so when they come back here they can contribute to their organizations.

The second phase of the work is producing seeds, which is fundamental in food sovereignty. We started strengthening the national production of seeds so people can save, maintain, and produce their own seeds. We’re establishing six centers of seed production of legumes and other seeds like corn. We’d like to grow stronger in the area of legume production based on our experiences in Brazil, because in Haiti all the seeds for legumes come from other places; they aren’t produced here. We don’t just want to build a program to produce seeds, we want it to be controlled by the farmers.

Third, we started a program of reforestation. It’s true that Haiti has serious issues with deforestation that’s not easy to work on. A lot of trees are cut to make charcoal to assure [the farmers] a steady income. We’ve worked on reforestation by planting avocados and mangoes, other things, so the farmers can [have other sources of income].

The fourth area is the construction of intermediate-level technical schools to train young farmers in agricultural technologies. Like in other sectors of society, the investigative and technical side of agriculture has been abandoned. Five or six technical schools have been closed. We have plans to open one. We have many examples in Brazil to work with; it’s a dream of peasant movements.

So these programs – the exchanges, the seeds, reforestation, and technical schools – have a fundamental objective: to help them strengthen their autonomy and their organizational capacity, the base of social movements. That’s the principal philosophy of the cooperation.

A lot of money has entered Haiti, but far away from the real necessities. People here are dying of cholera, for example. What’s the solution? Potable water to live. We’re installing 1,200 cisterns for water catchment.

All the work we’ve done has been voluntary. All the resources we’ve gotten are from a foundation in Boston called Grassroots International and two Brazilians who have supported the brigade. There are movements back in Brazil that are assuming responsibility for supporting the families, providing monthly contributions, because some left children [back home]. There are also the hosts [for the Haitians] there in Brazil.

Social movements all over the world have forgotten the concept of internationalism. Small farmers’ movements through Vía Campesina have revitalized this, and the example of Haiti has proven it. The exchange proves that a solidarity exchange is possible between peoples, not just between governments. Not that that isn’t important, but social organizations can also articulate their exchange programs of alliances.

What we are doing doesn’t consist of donating things, it consists of identifying and constructing alongside Haitians. The Haitian people have to be respected and we have to get to know them, we have to speak their language. It’s very symbolic, what we are doing.

Thanks to Sylvia Gonzalez for translating, and to Deepa Panchang for her help editing.
Photo: Brazilian and Haitian farmers are together constructing 1,200 cisterns in rural Haiti. Photo by Federico Matias.

Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance. She coordinates Other Worlds,, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. You can access all of her past articles regarding post-earthquake Haiti at


(Quelle: Grassroots International.)

Mittelamerika: Eine ganz besondere Schule

Samstag, Mai 14th, 2011

Central America Peasant School teaches us lessons

This blog is part of a series of blogs that Grassroots’ Latin America Program Coordinator, Saulo Araújo will be posting during his site visit to Central America. Through the “Field Notes” blogs, Saulo will share contextual analysis and information from partners and allies.

This morning, I write from Via Campesina’s Central American Peasant School, located in the outskirts of Managua. Grassroots International grants help support the school and enable peasants from around the world to participate in training there.
As I type my notes, three facilitators in their mid-20s fire up the room with chants about struggle and peasant power. From my seat, I count 27 participants. There are Mayan representatives from Guatemala, young peasants from Panamá, women from Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Many traveled a significant distance to reach the school for this week-long leadership training. The room exudes excitement and purposefulness. In the center of the auditorium, a mosaic of flags from different countries, the Via Campesina and other member organizations forms a kind of sanctuary. I also see seeds from rice and beans seeds, representing the “pinto de gallo,” a staple food in Nicaragua. The arrangement is part of the “mistica,” a popular education technique that aims to represent each participant as well as the collective.
Via Campesina is a global social movement of farmers, fishers, small producers and indigenous communities represented in 70 countries. In Central America, Via Campesina currently has 31 member-organizations, including several of Grassroots’ partners and allies such as the National Coordination of Peasants and Indigenous People (CONIC) from Guatemala and Nicaragua’s Association of Rural Workers (ATC). Through trainings like this, Via Campesina endeavors to create a strong foundation of new leaders who will continue the struggle for peasant rights in Central America for years to come.
Via Campesina’ goals are ambitious and urgent: Ending hunger and exploitation by empowering peasants and indigenous people to defend their rights to land, water and food sovereignty. To defend democratic distribution of resources and social justice, Via Campesina supports agrarian reform that will address the claim of landless peasant families and women’s rights to land, water, seeds, food and a society without violence. An ally of Via Campesina, Grassroots International contributes to this process by building links of solidarity and commitment between people in the United States and organizations like Via Campesina.
Are we achieving our goals? Yes, we are. Through the training school, thousands of peasants and indigenous people, adult and young, gather to share their experiences and learn from one another. Currently, the school accommodates 50 people comfortably, including mothers, the elderly and those who had never left home before, like Cirilo Martinez, a shy young man from Panamá. “It is my first time here and the first time I left Panamá.” Cirilo is 25, but is already president of a farmers’ association and, along with his father, mother and siblings, a member of Panamanian Peasant Union (UCP). “My father is more of a behind-the-scenes organizer. He helped to create UCP 11 years ago, so he was happy that I was coming to this training.”
Contemporaneous history lessons
Father-to-son, generation-to-generation, the classes in the Peasant School include topic such as agrarian reform, food sovereignty, gender, indigenous rights, communication strategies and, of course, leadership. Sitting here in a room with a new generation of leaders I hear personal stories and learn the broader history of the peasant movement in Central America. “In my country, agrarian reform was often linked to a communist idea. Nobody wanted to speak about that for fear to be seen as communist,” said one participant.
Fausto Torrez, a seasoned organizer that serves as technical advisor for Via Campesina’s Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform, offers an alternative lesson about agrarian reform: “Actually, agrarian reform was conceived initially as a capitalist idea. It was planned to transform the peasant families into entrepreneurs within a capitalist framework.”
Oliverio, a youth organizer from the Mayan Youth Movement (MOJOMAYAS) shares that indigenous people in his home country of Guatemala are either landless or living in areas where soil is depleted or no longer appropriate for agricultural purposes. As matter of a fact, Guatemala has the highest rate of landlessness in Central America. According to a document prepared by ActionAid and the Peasant Unity Committee (CUC), approximately 54 percent of Guatemala’s agricultural land is controlled by 1.98 percent of the population.
Inspiring, Oliverio’s words are like opening a can of worms, and after him a string of others spoke on the topic. One of them, a member of the Peasant and Indigenous Union of Panamá, denounces the growing problem of land grabbing. “In Panama, landowners control the best farmland, the most flat and fertile land in the countryside”.
An experienced facilitator, Fausto diverted the conversation by asking his Nicaraguan countrymen the question: “Is there agrarian reform in Nicaragua?” Silence fills the room as the group seems divided about the outcome. Many peasant families in Nicaragua still do not have land title. In a way, the answer is “yes and no.” The diverse political affiliations in the room add another interesting aspect.  More than half of the participants are supportive of Sandinista Front of National Liberation (FSLN). The rest are members of organizations affiliated to the “Contras” or counter-revolutionary organizations who fought against the Sandinistas during the civil war. Despite of the political differences, Sandinistas and Contras in Via Campesina work together towards the same goals of peasants rights to land and food.
The building of an effective social movement for food sovereignty
One of its many accomplishments, the Via Campesina brings together peasants, indigenous peoples, pastoralists, and fishermen who share a strong political view towards system change. By making political education of its members a priority, Via Campesina can mobilize and reenergize rural families whose political views are often ignored. Using popular education methods, the organization is able to create a safe (and empowering) space for leadership development of peasants, women and youth. After this week-long training is over, participants will organize workshops in their countries of origin. The “repase” or sharing workshops will help the organization reach out a larger group.
Using a farmer-to-farmer methodology, Via Campesina’s leadership trainings help build a strong foundation and larger movement by reaching out to thousands of others who were not able to join us in Nicaragua.
With great sacrifice, peasants in Central America teach us by example. They demonstrate that a world without hunger is possible, and that they – peasants, indigenous people, women and youth – have the solution by living in a different life paradigm that combines protecting the commons from privatization, international solidarity and respect to the rights of Mother Earth. This is the life lesson from peasants that we often ignore. But hopefully, we will begin to learn the lessons that they are teaching soon. After all, they are a population of more than a billion people whose resources and labor feed all the five billion inhabitants of this shared planet.


(Quelle: Grassroots International.)

Haiti: Ernährungssouveränität und Landreform

Montag, Juni 14th, 2010

“‘So That Everyone Can Eat, Produce It Here': Food Sovereignty and Land Reform in Haiti

by Beverly Bell

Doudou Pierre is on the coordinating committee of the National Haitian Network for Food Sovereignty and Food Security (RENHASSA). He is also a member of the International Coordinating Committee for Food Sovereignty, organized by Vía Campesina, the worldwide coalition of small farmer organizations. In addition, he is a member of the National Peasant Movement of the Papay Congress and the Peasant Movement for Acul du Nord. This week he will be heading North to the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit.

In the June 4, 2010, article, ‘Groups Around the U.S. Join Haitian Farmers In Protesting ‘Donation’ of Monsanto Seeds,’ Doudou commented on the damage that Monsanto and other agricultural corporations could wreak on Haitian agriculture. Here, he speaks about how government investment in small farmers and in food sovereignty could impact Haiti’s future.

We’re putting together a national network, RENHASSA, to show what our alternatives are today. The whole peasant sector is coming together to tell everyone about the policies we want. Our mission is to advocate for Haiti to be sovereign with its food and to promote national production.

We’re mobilizing politically for the policies we want. We publish articles and do community radio programs about our positions. We’re also doing media campaigns and having meetings to educate people about growing for local and family consumption as much as possible, instead of buying food from other countries. People are starting to recognize and change their habits to just buy local goods. 

Now, what must be done: the state must exercise its responsibility toward its people. When we talk about reconstructing Haiti, we can’t just talk about houses.  It’s got to be a whole plan. We have to talk about reconstructing land, about total reforestation.

First, we have to decentralize the Republic of Port-au-Prince, which got created during the U.S. occupation of 1915 to 1934. Services now exist only in the capital. People died during the earthquake for an identity card or a copy of a transcript, because they had to come to Port-au-Prince to get them. Services must be in all departments [akin to states]. All the people who are in the countryside have to have the resources to stay there.

Second, and this is the essential element, is the relaunching of agriculture in this country. We were almost self-sufficient until the 1980s. We have to fight and pressure the state, so it prioritizes agriculture. Otherwise, we’ll always have to depend on multinationals and non-governmental organizations for our food. The government has to take responsibility for that.

We’re not in favor just of food security, which is a neoliberal idea. With food security, as long as you eat, it’s good. But, we only produce 43% of our food; 57% is imported.  We need food sovereignty, which means that so that everyone can eat, we produce it here at home. We could produce here at least 80% of what we eat. 

You can’t speak of food sovereignty without speaking of ecological, family agriculture. We need that and indigenous seeds. We need for peasants to have their own land.

We have threats from multinationals, mainly to grow jatropha [whose seeds produce oil which can be used for biofuel]. The Jatropha Foundation is lobbying hard to start growing. Jatropha puts us at risk, because we don’t have enough land to be able to divert some toward biofuel. Haiti is only 27,760 square kilometers. Their plan would have us produce even less food and would force peasants to be expropriated. Plus, they’d be using a lot of water, which could create an ecological disaster. It’s a death plan against the peasants.

We’re mobilizing people against growing biofuel. Last October, when the government was considering giving contracts to grow jatropha, we held a big march and sit-in; we gave a petition to parliament. We said, ‘No, Haiti’s land is for growing food.’ We met with the minister of agriculture and the World Food Program.

We’re also mobilizing against GMO seeds, and we’ve just declared war against Monsanto. This battle has just begun.

Besides food sovereignty, our other main priority is integrated land reform. We can’t talk about food sovereignty, if people don’t have land.  They have to have land to be able to market; that’s the only way we can get away from food aid. Our plan is to take the land from the big landowners and give it to the peasants to work. And the food has to be organic, without any chemical fertilizers which destroy the land.  We don’t use anything [unnatural in our cultivation process].

Now, even if people have a little handkerchief of land, they don’t have the technical support to let them plant.  The state has to give us credit and technical support and help us store and manage water. Préval said he was doing agrarian reform in his first term. We called it agrarian demagoguery. He just gave out a few parcels, divided into very small plots, to his political clientele and political party, even to people who weren’t in Haiti.  And, his government didn’t offer any technical support.

That’s not what we need. The agrarian reform we want is for those who work the land to have the right to that land, with all its infrastructure. 

The cultural reality of Haiti is that peasants each want their own little piece of land to produce their own food. But, there has to be cooperative land. Peasant organizations can create collectives to produce food for export and make money, but for that there has to be integrated land reform with technical support, credit, water, everything. We must have government support.

Right now, the government doesn’t even exist for us. It’s saying to the international community, ‘Here’s our country.  Come take it.’ They’ve given away the whole country, and now we have [U.N. Special Envoy Bill] Clinton, who is a tool of the big multinationals. So, on top of all our other fights, we have to fight to change the state. 

Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women’s Stories of Survival and Resistance. She coordinates Other Worlds,, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.”


Wer entscheidet, was wir essen?

Mittwoch, Juni 9th, 2010

Who is deciding what we eat?

By Esther Vivas

The increasing conversion of agriculture into a commodity industry is an undeniable reality today. The privatisation of natural resources, the policies of structural adjustment, the gradual disappearance of the peasantry and the industrialisation of food systems have driven us to the current food crisis situation.

In this context, who is deciding what we eat? The answer is clear: a handful of multinationals of the agro-food industry, with the blessing of governments and international institutions, end up imposing their private interest above collective needs. Due to this situation, our food security is seriously threatened.

The supposed concern of governments and institutions such as the G8, the G20, the World Trade Organization, etc., regarding the rise of the price of basic food and its impact on the more disadvantaged peoples, as they showed in the course of 2008 in international summits, has only shown their deep hypocrisy. They take significant economic profits from the current food and agricultural model, using it as an imperialist instrument for political, economic and social control, towards the countries of the global South.

As pointed out by the international movement of La Vía Campesina, at the end of the FAO meeting in Rome in November 2009: “The absence of the heads of state of the G8 countries has been one of the key causes of the dismal failure of this summit. Concrete measures were not taken to eradicate hunger, to stop the speculation on food or to hold back the expansion of agrofuels”. Likewise, commitments such as those of the Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security and the Food Security Trust Fund of the World Bank, which have the explicit support of the G8 and the G20, also point this out, leaving our food supply, once again, in the hands of the market.

Yet the reform of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) of the FAO is, according to La Vía Campesina, a step forward towards democratizing the decision-making processes over agriculture and environment: “At least this workspace respects the basic rule of democracy, which is the principle of “one country, one vote”, and it gives a new opportunity to civil society”. However, we will still have to check the real impact of the CFS.

The agro-food chain is subjected, in its whole route, to a high business concentration. Starting with the first stretch, seeds, we can observe that ten of the biggest companies (such as Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, Bayer…), according to data from the ETC Group, control one half of sales. Copyright laws, which give exclusive rights on seeds to these companies, have further stimulated the business concentration of the sector and have eroded the peasant right to the maintenance of indigenous seeds and biodiversity.

The seed industry is intimately linked to that of pesticides. The biggest seed companies also dominate this other sector and very frequently the development and marketing of both products are done together. Moreover, in the pesticide industry, the monopoly is even greater and the ten biggest multinationals control 84% of the global market. This same dynamic is observed in the sector of food distribution and in that of the processing of drinks and foods. It is all about strategy, and it is bound to increase.

Big-scale retailing, just like other sectors, registers a high business concentration. In Europe, between 1987 and 2005, the market share of the ten biggest multinationals of big-scale retailing was 45% of the total and the chances are that they will reach 75% in the next 10-15 years. In countries such as a Sweden, three supermarket chains control around 95.1% of the market share; and in countries such as Denmark, Belgium, the Spanish State, France, Netherlands, Great Britain and Argentina, a handful of companies control between 60% and 45% of the market. Mega fusions are the usual dynamic. This monopoly and concentration enables them to wield huge power to determine what we buy, the price of products, their origin, and how they have been elaborated.

Making a profit from hunger
In the middle of the food crisis, the main multinational companies of the agro-food industry announced record profit figures. Monsanto and Dupont, the main seed companies, declared a rise of their profits of 44% and 19% respectively in 2007 in relation to the previous year. The data of fertilizer companies pointed out the same: Potash Corp, Yara and Sinochem, saw their profits rise by 72%, 44% and 95% respectively between 2007 and 2006. Food processors such as Nestlé also experienced a rise of their economic gains, as well as supermarkets such as Tesco, Carrefour and Wal-Mart, while millions of people in the world did not have access to food.


– Esther Vivas is a member of the Centre for Studies on Social Movements (CEMS) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. She is co-coordinator of the books in Spanish “Supermarkets, No Thanks” and “Where is Fair Trade headed?”. She is also a member of the editorial board of Viento Sur (
(Article published in Diagonal, nº115.)

(Quelle: Radio Chango.)