6 Agrarian reform and the rights of peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk

Final Resolution for Workshop 6
Approved by the Plenary of the ILPS First International Assembly
25-27 May 2001
Zutphen, The Netherlands

Agrarian reform and the rights of peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk against feudal, semi-feudal and capitalist exploitation and oppression

The last decades of the 20th century have seen the gravest crises of imperialism and in response to these crises, the rapacity of monopoly capitalism. While wealth and resources, including land, water and forests, are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, the vast majority of the world’s population is being subjected to the demands of imperialist globalization. They are facing increasing domination and exploitation by monopoly capital and its domestic lackeys resulting in their further impoverishment and marginalization.

The peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk, who make up the majority of the world’s population, are hit hard by the nefarious consequences of imperialist globalization. In agriculture, the imperialist monopolies are imposing high prices for farm inputs while pushing farm-gate prices down. Big commercial fishing is plundering the seas depriving the majority of small fisherfolk from their livelihoods. Import liberalization and deregulation are threatening the livelihoods of numerous families who rely on farming for their source of income. They cannot compete with cheap imports from the rich countries that are dumping their heavily subsidized agricultural products in the underdeveloped countries. Peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk alike are driven from their lands to make place for the commercial projects of big business.

At the same time, imperialist globalization has continued the feudal bondage that keeps the majority of the world’s peasantry and fisherfolk enslaved. Indeed, the age-old problem of landlessness is still the principal problem of the vast majority of farmers, especially in the underdeveloped countries. Big landlords, who monopolize the ownership of land, are intensifying their exploitation of the peasants. Besides, they suffer from usury, resulting in indebtedness, and unfavorable market prices. Even public and communal lands are being privatized. Through the intensification of monopolistic aquaculture, the semi-feudal exploitation of fisherfolk is also increasing. The institutions of imperialist globalization like the IMF, the World Bank, regional banks, the WTO and the TNCs are brazenly conniving as they share the same interests. Farm workers also suffer from low wages and substandard and unacceptable living and working conditions, unacceptable even to international labor standards. Peasant, farm worker and fisherfolk women and children are being more exploited and marginalized.

Farmers and farm workers in Europe and North America also have to endure the intensifying crisis of global capitalism. Small family farms are marginalized and eventually eaten up by big agribusiness corporations. State subsidies and social services are removed while incentives are redirected to big corporate farms. Unemployment and poverty in rural areas are on the rise.

Organizations of peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk the world over are braving increasing state repression to rise against these obnoxious trends. They are opposing the further onslaught of the agents of imperialist globalization on their lives and livelihood while they are striving to cast off the feudal ties that are restraining them.

They are actively campaigning for their democratic rights to land and fishing grounds as only genuine agrarian and fisheries reform can give them their due. They are forging ties with the other oppressed sectors of society, especially the workers, in a joint campaign for development and industrialization that is geared toward the needs of the people.

Increasingly, other progressive and democratic sectors and organizations are supporting the just demands of the peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk. As they are also opposing imperialist globalization, they are eager to link arms with the organizations of peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk in a broad opposition to any kind of exploitation and domination.

The militant struggle of the peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk is already bearing fruit through many initial victories. Numerous farmers, supported by militant peasant organizations, have been able to resist eviction from their lands, to reduce the land rent or to improve the conditions of the farm workers. Other organized farmers have been able to carry out land occupations through militant assertion of their rights. Militant protest demonstrations have confronted meetings of pro-imperialist organizations like the WTO.

We vow to continue the struggle of the farmers, farm workers and fisherfolk against all forms of imperialist and feudal oppression and exploitation. Therefore, we put forward the following immediate demands:-

  1. Implement and pursue genuine agrarian and fisheries reform, a just and democratic demand of peasants and fisherfolk. “Land to the tiller” should be its basic principle.

  2. Curb the agrochemical and agribusiness transnational monopolies and stop their development and promotion of genetically modified organisms. Through their intensifying monopoly on agriculture, these corporations are responsible for the destruction of the environment and the livelihoods of farmers and fisherfolk.

  3. End all forms of state repression against farmers and fisherfolk who pursue their democratic rights through militant struggle. Free all political prisoners.

  4. Junk the World Trade Organization (WTO) as its Agreement on Agriculture has already wrought considerable havoc on the farmers and fisherfolk the world over.

  5. Stop the deceptive programs of the World Bank (e.g. the market-assisted land reform and its mega-infrastructure projects) and other multilateral organizations that are only meant to intensify the exploitation of the peasantry.

  6. Cancel all unjust debts of peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk.

While we recognize the importance of strong peasant movements in our own countries, we are also resolved to forge firm solidarity among farmers and fisherfolk the world over in order to advance the democratic demands and struggles of the peasants and fisherfolk for genuine agrarian reform and against imperialist globalization.

We further resolve to adopt the following plan of action:-

  1. Exchange information that can be useful in our struggles. Encourage exchange visits where we can learn from each other’s experiences.

  2. Coordinate campaigns at the regional and global level in order to amplify their impact.

  3. Support each other’s national and local campaigns as an expression of international solidarity.

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