In CPNN this month, we ask the question “What is the relation between peasant movements for food sovereignty and the global movement for a culture of peace?”
Here is my own response to the question. It is based on the many articles in CPNN this month about the global movement of peasants for food sovereignty.
Yes, they are an important part of the global movement for a culture of peace, for several reasons.
First, they are the first line of defense against one of the main advances of the culture of war. As we said in the document that we sent from UNESCO to the UN to define the culture of peace, it “represents a major change in the concept of economic growth which, in the past, could be considered as benefitting from military supremacy and structural violence and achieved at the expense of the vanquished and the weak.” What better way to describe the advances of a few transnational corporations, supported by so-called “free-trade treaties” who are attempting to monopolize the seeds that farmers use throughout the world and to impose monoculture agriculture based on their seeds and their pesticides?
The transnational corporations are supported by the power (ultimately military) of nation states around the world, not only by the great powers, but also by the governments of the small countries. An example is Guatemala, where despite pressure from a strong peasant movement to support a Rural Integral Development law, the law is blocked by a coalition of right-wing parties.
Second, the peasant movements are organized not only locally, and to an increasing extent, on a global scale. Look at the map of protests on April 17, the International Day of Peasant Struggle against Transnational Companies and Free Trade Agreements. There are actions on every continent.
The peasant movements are based ultimately on the wisdom and experience of their ancestors as described in the blog from this February, “Listen to the indigenous people.” This is clearly stated in the declaration of the 6th Congress of the Latin American Coordination of Countryside Organizations: “We emerged from the heart itself of the 500-year process of indigenous, peasant, black and popular resistance.”
The peasant struggle ultimately concerns all of us. As we concluded in the February blog, we need to “organize local cooperatives and local food production instead of importation and agro-business . . . In this way we can protect ourselves against the crash of the American empire and the global economy that it manages.”
Finally, we can say that the peasant movement for sustainable agriculture is not only part of the global movement for a culture of peace, but perhaps its most critical component because it will enable us to survive after the crash and during the period when it may be possible to make a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace. For this reason it is especially important that we see more and more young people turning back to small-scale, “human-scale” farming, as described in the CPNN interview this month.