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La Via Campesina is celebrating this Tuesday the International Day of Peasant Struggle with a strong rejection against Free Trade Agreements and demanding peasant rights around the world be guaranteed
“Enough of FTAs, enough impunity for corporations” reads the press release issued today by the world´s largest peasant organization, present in five continents. "After two decades of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) being advanced in an attempt to recolonize and 22 years after the de Eldorado dos Carajás massacre in Brazil, La Via Campesina denounces the impunity with which these actions are carried out. The global peasant movement issues a call to resist, in an organized way, these treaties that try to take over of our natural resources and local markets, for the benefit of the transnational capital and agribusinesses, with the States playing a mute spectator or an accomplice”, they add.
La Via Campesina International made reference to the Eldorado dos Carajás Massacre, which took place 22 years ago. On April 17, 1996, 1500 landless peasants of Pará State, Brazil, who had been expelled from their lands, mobilized to the state capital, Belém, to raise their claims and demand solutions. When they arrived to Eldorado dos Carajás municipality, the march stopped so that pregnant women and children could rest. However, the demonstrators were shot by over 140 military police officers. 19 peasants were murdered and 69 were injured.
They were all members of the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil (MST). That same day, La Via Campesina was gathered in La Trinidad, Tlaxcala State, Mexico, for their second international conference. When the leaders found out about the murders in Pará they decided to declare April 17 as the “International Day of Peasant Struggle”.
The Brazilian legal system, today so eager to imprison former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (without evidence against him, as denounced by the former president, hundreds of lawyers and popular movements of the country) became an expert in “impunity” in these 22 years post massacre. Of the 144 police officers accused, only two were convicted, but they have since been released, according to the MST.
Hundreds of unified and decentralized peasant actions are expected to take place this Tuesday at global level, for the right to land and water, against FTAs and the criminalization of social struggles.
The press release issued by La Vía Campesina highlights that “The FTAs are more than just commerce. These are agreements that enforce structural reforms, which in turn strengthen the transnational corporations (…), the economic interests of the national elites and the governments”. Along these lines they highlight that trade agreements such as the one under negotiation by the European Union and MERCOSUR are “a fatal blow to us, small and medium farmers already in a situation of crisis. These agreements facilitate dumping and the expansion of agroindustry at the expense of peasant communities”.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the International Coordination Committee of La Via Campesina met in Seoul, South Korea, for the International Forum on the Impacts of Free Trade in Agriculture, organized by La Vía Campesina South East and East Asia. This forum aims to offer several examples of the impacts of FTAs and particularly of the possible consequences of a free trade agreement between the European Union and Indonesia, currently under negotiation.
Kim Jeong Yeol from the Korean Women Peasant Association said: “Even though World Trade Organisation (WTO) has failed in their multi-lateral agreements, it still functions as the world’s police enforcing the neoliberal Free Trade Agreements. And with the FTAs the corporations and States are carrying out an assault against the peasantry. Institutions such as the WTO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund never work for the peasants and for this reason, as peasants, we think that they should just disappear”, according to the press release.
In addition, La Via Campesina International denounced today “the systematic violations of the peasants fundamental rights that could be alarming, in countries like Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras, Colombia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, The Philippines and Pakistan. “Thousands of peasants are murdered with total impunity and many violations of peasants’ rights also occur. These incidents tend to aggravate because of the FTAs”, stated the network of peasant organizations. This is why they demand a “UN Declaration recognising the Rights of Peasants and Other People working in Rural Areas”.
Read the full press release here: https://viacampesina.org/en/this-april-17th-we-demand-that-the-peasants-rights-are-guaranteed-enough-of-ftas-enough-impunity/
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