“We will not achieve Food Sovereignty if we can’t recover control over our communities and territories, if we can’t take back control over food from the corporations”, warned peasant Carlos Marentes, a long-standing leader from La Vía Campesina.
“This is a complicated struggle, it requires intense work. In the current political climate — of oligarchy and increasingly extreme conservatism, states leaning to the far-right wing with terrible neofascist positions like in the United States, there is much fear among communities. They are the ones suffering real violence. It is not fear for what may happen, but fear for what is already happening.”
Marentes is member of the organization “Border Agricultural Workers Project” located in the border between US city of El Paso, Texas, and Mexican city Ciudad Juárez, in Chihuahua. The organization is part of La Vía Campesina International, specifically dealing with migrant issues, wage labor, rural work, Food Sovereignty and the climate and environmental crises.
The leader explained to Real World Radio: “We work to organize rural workers to fight for Food Sovereignty in two ways. The first, of course, is to deal with this offensive, this war led by (US President Donald) Trump and the most regressive sectors, which is now experienced in the different countries, especially Northern ones. The second is to rebuild the peasant economies of rural workers and indigenous communities so as to avoid the displacement of human beings.”
Along these lines, Marentes assessed that “one of the most ominous signs of the loss of Food Sovereignty is the migration of people who have lost the ability to continue working on their lands.” And he added: “In this border area specifically, migration is met with militarization and a strategy of war that aims to stop immigrants.” “The struggle for food sovereignty is one of the aims, to face this war against poor people that is related to a more vicious, predatory system determined to ensure that multinational corporations control food production and the means of production, as well as nature,” concluded the peasant farmer.
The leader of La Vía Campesina also told Real World Radio that more and more people are being displaced from their lands and territories, and that rural workers are stepping up the struggle to protect these territories, which transnational corporations are attempting to take over with the help of conservative governments, at the service of ‘Big Capital’.
The case of the US is paradigmatic: militarization of borders, the rise of paramilitary groups “who we call white supremacists”, and police brutality that has created an atmosphere of terror. “There is a terrible alliance between the state, landowners, agricultural corporations and organized crime. It is not a coincidence that in many of the areas where agribusiness has managed to take over lands and territories there is also organized crime and drug trafficking.”
Marentes speaks of a common pattern, a “method”: “The peasant community is somehow destroyed, they are displaced and then drug traffickers come in to that area with the support and resources of the State, the Army, and eventually foreign extractive industries rapidly appear.”
Nevertheless, the representative of the “Border Agricultural Workers Project” highlighted the resistance and the struggle of peasant communities and the work of organizations like his. “The idea is to organize, raise awareness, prepare the people to defend their right to life, to food, land, to protect their natural resources. This for us is the key in the struggle for food sovereignty.”
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