Contributing author: Sabrina Endicott
In South America, small-scale holdings make up 83 percent of the agricultural producers, but only occupy 12.3 percent of the land, according to a report by Oxfam International. Despite their contributions, the peasant movement La Via Campesina (LVC) argues that small-scale farmers in the region are under-resourced, oppressed, and underrepresented on the land and in agriculture policy.
LVC advocates for food sovereignty, the right of the people to have healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable practices. This vision has spurred organized social movements rooted in the rights of peasants, Indigenous Peoples, and women, who want to regain land and food sovereignty.
“We want to look to the future in order to keep feeding the world population with culturally adapted and nutritious food,” Paula Gioia, member of LVC International Coordination Committee, tells Food Tank. “And for this, it is essential to practice an agriculture which is based on fair and just relations among human beings, but also a way of producing food that preserves Mother Earth and our climate.”
This week Food Tank is highlighting 17 movements throughout South America who are building strong networks, some internationally, of rural workers, women, and Indigenous Peoples to promote their right to the land, food, and cultural heritage.
1. Asamblea Nacional Mapuche de Izquierda (ANMI), Chile
ANMI, also known as the Mapuche Left National Assembly, is a political, social, and cultural movement that advocates and fights for the rights and land of the Mapuche people. The movement of Mapuche men and women come together to oppose the neoliberal economic system that creates their struggle for the territory and has allowed large corporations to hurt the ecosystems.
2. Confederación Nacional Agraria (CNA), Peru
CNA is an agrarian union of empowered peasants, Indigenous People, and small producers that promote sustainable agriculture, food, land, and territory security. The organization works to represent peoples’ collective rights and food sovereignty in the face of climate change.
3. Confederación Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE), Ecuador
CONAIE is an organization that brings together Indigenous Peoples and regional communities to defend the land, Indigenous territories, and natural resources. Since 1980, the CONAIE’s National Council has promoted the unity of Indigenous Peoples in a fight to access Indigenous land, education, and cultural identity.
4. Confederación de Pueblos, Organizaciones indígenas Campesinas del Ecuador (FEI), Ecuador
FEI, one of the first Indigenous and peasant organizations in Ecuador, promotes the class interests of rural and Indigenous Peoples, peasants, Montubios, and Afro-Ecuadorians. FEI fights for agrarian reform that allows access to land and production while strengthening food sovereignty. To FEI, this means going against the neo-capitalist exploitation of land, water, and agriculture production.
5. Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones de Mujeres Trabajadoras Rurales e Indígenas (CONAMURI), Paraguay
CONAMURI provides a space for peasant and Indigenous women to defend their rights. The organization looks to improve the living conditions of women, incorporating the culture and respect for Indigenous Peoples, and achieving equality between men and women. CONAMURI uses food sovereignty, community strength, and social and environmental rights as tools to fight the oppression and exploitation of working women and Indigenous People.
6. Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia (CSUTCB), Bolivia
CSUTCB is the main trade union organization of the Quechua, Aymara, Tupí Guaraní people and other rural workers affiliated with the Bolivian’s Workers’ Center. CSUTCB’s mission is to achieve equitable and fair sustainable economic development for the original Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia. The organization maintains Indigenous Peoples’ identity by sustainably managing natural resources with Indigenous and peasant participation, guaranteeing access to land and territory, and proposing policies, programs, and laws that favor the native and peasant communities of Bolivia.
7. Federación Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas, Indígenas, y Negras del Ecuador (FENOCIN), Ecuador
FENOCIN is a national confederation of peasants, Indigenous and Black people, Montubias, Pesqueros Artesanales, and Artesanos Obreros, working to globalize the struggle of rural farmers. The network fights against capitalism to achieve food and land sovereignty. FENOCIN believes that to build peoples’ power, democracy, and peace, there needs to be an agrarian revolution that makes land accessible and promotes local food systems and agroecology.
8. Frente Nacional Campesina Ezequiel Zamora (FNCEZ), Venezuela
FNCEZ is a nonprofit political-social organization, composed of landless peasants, small and medium farmers, fisher people, rural workers, and communities. FNCEZ’s national and international peasant and rural farm communities organize to democratize the struggle for an agrarian revolution and the development of the socialist peoples’ power.
9. La Red de Semillas, Uruguay
La Red de Semillas, the Seed Network, includes more than 250 family farms, involving more than 350 producers, Friends of the Earth Networks, and the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of the Republic. Its main goal is to rescue traditional seed varieties, increase the availability of seeds for family production, and strengthen food sovereignty.
10. Latin American Agroecology Movement (MAELA), International
MAELA is an organization that works against neoliberalism and the discrimination of Latin American and Caribbean cultural knowledge. Organizations of peasants, Indigenous People, family and consumer producers, nonprofit organizations, agroecology networks, educational institutions, and universities created MAELA to promote sustainable human development based on agroecology and local knowledge. The movement brings together more than 150 institutions.
11. La Via Campesina (LVC), International
LVC, one of the largest peasant movements in the world, brings together millions of small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, Indigenous People, migrants, and agricultural workers. LVC’s goal is to defend small-scale sustainable agriculture to promote social justice and dignity, farm in harmony with nature, and oppose agribusiness and transnational companies that hurt ecosystems. The movement comprises 182 local and national organizations in 81 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, representing about 200 million farmers.
12. Mesa Coordinadora de Organizaciones Campesinas (MCNOC), Paraguay
MCNOC is an association of peasant and Indigenous organizations that promote comprehensive agrarian reform, based on the right of every peasant and Indigenous person to access a piece of land. The organization helps small and medium agricultural producers find technical assistance and increase equitable access to resources. MCNOC aims to expand the practice of internal democracy, sustainability based on ecosystem capacity, and food security and sovereignty.
13. Movimento de Pescadores e Pescadoras Artesanais (MPP), Brazil
MPP is the grassroots movement of Conselho Pastoral dos Pescadores (CPP), or the Fishermen’s Pastoral Council, which seeks to preserve and promote the cultural, social, and economic benefits of fishing and fisherfolk in Brazil. MPP includes men and women who are passionate about the country’s food sovereignty security and work to preserve the waters and ecosystems of their cultural ancestors.
14. Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena (MNCI), Argentina
MNCI is a movement of more than 20,000 families of rural and Indigenous farmers who want to achieve agriculture reform and food sovereignty through peoples’ power and organizing. The movement’s goals are to develop systems that allow access to healthy quality food for all Argentines and support rural communities, cultural traditions, and diversity. Because MNCI believes that the legal systems do not adequately address the systemic issues of the exploitation of Indigenous People and peasants, it works to educate and dismantle this structure by providing alternatives forms of legal strategies and collective action for better systemic change.
15. Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), Brazil
MST, a mass social movement, is a fight for the land and agrarian reform, formed by rural workers. MST was created by occupying latifundios (large land estates) to oppose injustice and social inequality in rural areas, leading to more than 2,500 land occupations, with about 370,000 families. Today those families live on 7.5 million hectares of land that they won as a direct result of their occupation. Through organizing and peoples’ power, these families and communities continue to push for socialist and agriculture reform.
16. National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women (ANAMURI), Chile
ANAMURI works to organize and promote rural and Indigenous women in Chile through the strength of its networks. Food sovereignty is the main goal for the organization, which it supports by training members in agroecology, awareness of food sovereignty, food production, and policy. ANAMURI works with women, peasant organizations, environmental groups, unions, and researchers to implement agroecology, political training, and gender perspective in schools.
17. Red de Mujeres Rurales de Uruguay (RMRU), Uruguay
Founded in 1991, RMRU is a nonprofit organization made up of more than 200 members and 23 groups united by the common interest of uplifting rural women. They work towards food sovereignty, group and institutional empowerment, and gender equity. RMRU’s members are women in the countryside fighting to help other women become more independent and achieve more rights, especially within agriculture. RMRU organized the first national meetings of rural women in the dairy industry and is one of the first national networks to successfully start a venture with aromatic herbs.
Photo courtesy of Cesar Carlevarino Aragon, Unsplash
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