Peasant movements across the world mobilized on International Day of Peasant Struggle

This report originally appeared in Newsclick

Every year on April 17, the organizations that are part of the international platform of peasant movements La Vía Campesina commemorate the International Day of Peasant Struggle. The date April 17 commemorates the Eldorado dos Carajás massacre which happened 22 years ago in the northern state of Brazil, Pará. The massacre was orchestrated by State repressive forces, large landowners and agribusiness and resulted in the death of 19 rural workers and hundreds injured.

In honor of these workers who died while resisting repression and agribusiness, La Vía Campesina declared April 17 as the International Day of Peasant Struggle. This year in particular the mobilizations were focused around resistance to free trade agreements and against the criminalization of the social movements. They stated:

We live faced with the massive violation of human rights, where crimes past and present go unpunished, popular movements are criminalised, and where social leaders disappear or are murdered. The impunity of the state terrorism of the past has become the basis of impunity for big businesses today.

In this context, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) serve as instruments propelled by corporations and States to establish the rules by which our natural resources are sold; they commercialise humanity’s shared resources, such as land and water, and use them to generate profit.

Today, FTAs represent the expression of an anti-democratic wave on a global level, which attempts to impose the economic interests of the few over the well-being and quality of life of the many.

Faced with international capital and Free Trade Agreements, at La Via Campesina, we unite to defend and achieve agrarian reform in the sense of the people’s right to land, territory, water and indigenous seeds: the fundamental basis of Food Sovereignty.

Multinational corporations and antidemocratic states promote unfair practices to boost extractivism, the looting of the land, large-scale monocultures for exportation, and the use of lands primarily for large-scale monocultures for agribusiness. Land and water are becoming increasingly important, and are the focus of strong economic interest, as much for national elites as for foreign ones. For this reason, there exist today alarming persecutions, criminalisation, evictions and deaths amongst peasants as well as indigenous and coloured peoples in the defence of their lands and against the exploitation of common resources.

There were mobilizations and diverse events held across the world to honor the landless workers killed on April 17 22 years ago and to denounce the pervasive issues that peasants and rural workers continue to face today. Below are photos from some of the actions:

Members of La Vía Campesina participating in the Korean ritual called “Gosa (고사)” on #April17, praying to the spirits of Earth, Sky, and Universe for the wellness of all participants before starting a very important event. Photo Credit: La Vía Campesina
Confeunass of Ecuador mobilized on #April17 to defend the rights of the peasant population. Photo Credit: Confeunass
The women of ANAMURI of Paraguay held an event on #April17 to denounce the capitalist and patriarcal system that oppresses peasant women. Photo Credit: ANAMURI
Members of La Vía Campesina in Honduras held a forum on the agrarian conflict in Tegucigalpa on #April17. Photo Credit: La Vía Campesina
Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation marched in honor of #April17. Photo Credit: La Vía Campesina
Over 1,000 marched in Mendoza, Argentina for #April17. Photo Credit: Movimiento Nacional Campesino e Indígena
#April17 Action in Brussels against Free Trade Agreements in front of the European Commission building. Photo Credit: European Coordination Vía Campesina

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