CHARACTERISTICS OF VIA CAMPESINA
WHAT IS VIA CAMPESINA?
Via Campesina is an international movement that coordinates organizations of peasants, small and medium-sized farmers, farm workers, rural women, and indigenous communities of Asia, Africa, America, and Europe.
It is an autonomous, pluralist movement, without political or economical ties of any type. It is made up of national and regional organizations whose autonomy is carefully respected.
It is organized in eight regions: Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast and Southeast Asia, South Asia, North America, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Other regions in Africa will soon be added.
HOW WAS VIA CAMPESINA BORN?
Via Campesina originated in April 1992, when various rural leaders from Central America, North America, and Europe came together in Manágua, Nicarágua in the context of the Congress of the National Union of Farmers and Ranchers (National Union of Farmers and Cattlemen–UNAG). In May 1993, the First Conference of Via Campesina was held in Mons, Belgium, during which the world-wide organization was constituted and the first strategic lines of work were defined, along with their structures.
The second international conference was held in Tlaxcala, México, in April 1996. Thirty seven countries and 69 national and regional organizations were present. They analyzed a series of topics that are of central concern to the small and medium-sized producers such as: food sovereignity, agrarian reform, credit and the external debt, technology, participation of women, and rural development, among other topics.
During the Second Conference, April 17 was declared the International Day of Farmers’ Struggle, in homage to the comrades who fell in the massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás.
The Third Conference took place in Bangalore, India with the participation of over 100 delegates from peasant organizations in 40 countries.
Via Campesina is in a process of expanding and consolidating. By its nature it is a politically complex, multicultural organization covering a broad geographical range, projecting itself as an organization of the highest representation of small and medium-sized producers at a world-wide level.
Via Campesina develops its work from the following axes of action: Organizational, Political, Economic, Communication, Gender, Training, and Technology.
For each of these axes, objectives and priorities are defined:
- Joint work and strengthening of its affiliated organizations
- Work to pressure the centers of power and decision-making of governmental and multilateral organizations to reorient economic and agricultural policies that affect small and medium-sized producers
- Strengthening of women’s participation in the social, economic, political, and cultural aspects
- Formulation of proposals about important topics such as Agrarian Reform, Food Sovereignty, Production, Trade, Research, Genetic Resources, Biodiversity, Environment, and Gender.