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

Concern No. 6: Agrarian reform and the rights of peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk

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, peasant women, fisherfolk, dalits, herders and pastoralists 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 fisher folk from their livelihoods.

The policies of import liberalization, privatization and deregulation, principally authored and engineered by the United States and co-imperialist powers have destroyed the livelihoods of millions of rural families who rely on farming, and on rural work and production for their source of income. They cannot compete with cheap imports from the rich countries that are dumping their heavily subsidized agricultural products in underdeveloped countries.

Peasants, farm workers and fisher folk alike are driven from their lands and main source of livelihood, and the massive displacement is being carried out to pave way for bogus industrial and destructive commercial projects funded by financial monopolies, foreign and local big businesses. And now even water is being privatized.

At the same time, imperialist globalization has continued the feudal bondage that keeps the majority of the world’s peasantry, dalits, fisher folk, agricultural workers, peasant women, herders and pastoralists 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, peasants, agricultural workers and fisherfolk suffer from usury, resulting in indebtedness, and unfavorable market prices.

Even public, tribal and communal lands are being privatized. Land and water use conversions carried out by transnational corporations (TNCs), big agro corporations and local big landlords, in connivance with the government, in the name of export-bane industrialization had already displaced millions of farmers, agricultural workers and fisherfolk and this has further aggravated the condition of rural poor and intensified land reconcentration in the hands of TNCs and big feudal lords in the countryside.

The institutions of imperialist globalization like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), regional banks and financial institutions like the Asian Development Bank and Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF), the World Trade Organizations (WTO) and the transnational corporations (TNCs) are brazenly conniving as they share the same interests. The imperialist camp headed by the United States also utilizes regional trade formations like Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) to ensure and perpetuate their dominance over the world’s economy and satisfy their endless thirst for super profits at the expense of exploited peasants, farmworkers, peasant women, fisherfolk and other rural producers across the globe. The failure of the Doha Round and the stalled 6th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong in 2005 prompted US and other centers of world capitalism to pursue bilateral talks in the form of free trade agreements (FTAs) as well as the ‘Aid for Trade’ which was meant to be a complement to the Doha Agenda. Worst, WTO claims that the Doha is a “solution” to the food and financial crisis, when in fact it will exacerbate these crises.

While exploiting and making life difficult for their own working people, imperialist countries, the resurgence of bilateral free trade is ushered and intensified by the persistence of the United States, Japan and the European Union to comprehensively exploit the working people and available resources for super profiteering, and for passing the burden of the global crises to working people in Third World countries and underdeveloped nations.

Farm workers also suffer from low wages and substandard and unacceptable living and working conditions, unacceptable even to international labor standards. It also comes to a point that many of them are forced to migrate to have a better living.

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. In the case of the United States, small family farms are held hostage by big agro-corporations through contract growing where farming families are compelled to sell their produce to big agro-corporations in the US. 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.

The reprehensible and destructive effects of imperialist globalization are largely felt among the poor and exploited people of the world — bringing billions of rural producers and the world’s working population to the deepest quagmire of poverty. Prices of food and other basic commodities and services are on their sky high rates, bringing poverty to unprecedented levels, which are higher and incomparable to the last decades of the last century.

High food prices compounded by sky rocketing prices of oil and other petroleum products instigated by the US through massive speculation and all-out privatization, monopolization and destruction of natural and human resources contributed further to super destruction of rural labor and working population all over the world. The intensifying resistance put up by farming people and workers is a manifestation of the irreversible and incurable crisis of imperialism and the dawn of people’s victory against imperialist globalization and exploitation the world over.

Organizations of peasants, farm workers, peasant women, and fisherfolk the world over are braving increasing state repression to rise against these obnoxious trends. Puppet and anti-farmer and anti-people states and governments launch all-out war and large-scale military operations to repress farmers and other toiling masses in the rural areas fighting massive landlessness, injustice, poverty and hunger. Even the joint US-national military exercises are meant to suppress and repress farmers fighting imperialist globalization, war and plunder. 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 and indigenous communities, 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, peasant women, dalits, farm workers and fisherfolk as they are also opposing imperialist globalization. They are eager to link arms with the organizations of peasants, peasant women, farm workers, dalits and fisherfolk in a broad opposition to any kind of exploitation and domination.

The intensifying resistance put up by rural people and workers across the globe are met with increasingly and intensifying state fascism backed up openly or discreetly by imperialist powers like the US, Japan, EU and other members of the imperialist bloc.

Disguising state fascism or state repression supported by the United States and imperialist powers as “war against terror,”, state puppets and clients of imperialist powers dropped any pretension of democracy and went aboveboard in establishing martial law and repressive regimes in suppressing the people’s resistance against imperialism and imperialist globalization and their client governments and states. Due to people’s resistance, fascist regimes resorted to all-out and left-and-right militarization and violations of people’s human rights and civil liberties not only in poor and underdeveloped countries, but as well in host nations of imperialist powers and transnational exploiters.

The militant struggle of the peasants, farm workers, peasant women and fisherfolk is already bearing fruit through many initial victories. Despite increasing reign of state terror characterized by violent break up of people’s protests, full-blown militarization, political killings, persecution, liquidation of political activists by state agents and enforced abductions, 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. They have resisted all forms of state fascism and confronted the programs and policies of state fascism and campaign of terror and brutality.

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, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the regional trade blocs and one-sided, pro-imperialist free trade agreement or FTAs.

In the countryside where armed revolutions are taking place, the peasantry has succeeded in implementing genuine agrarian reform programs from its minimum program (e.g. the lowering of land rents, increase in prices of agricultural products, etc) to maximum level of free land distribution.

We vow to continue the struggle of the farmers, farm workers, dalits, peasant women, pastoralist, herders and fisherfolk against all forms of imperialist and feudal oppression and exploitation.

Therefore, we put forward the following immediate calls and demands:

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

  2. Expose and oppose the agrochemical and agribusiness transnational monopolies and stop their development and promotion of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). 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 and continuing political persecution (local to global repression) against farmers, farmworkers, dalits, peasant women and fisherfolk who pursue their democratic rights through militant struggle. Free all peasants’ political prisoners. Expose and oppose criminalization of agrarian cases.

  4. Stop joint US-national military exercises such as the RP-US joint military exercises (Balikatan or shoulder to shoulder) in the Philippines and other countries which are directed against militant and progressive organizations, anti-imperialist forces and national liberation movements fighting for genuine democracy and national emancipation. These joint US-national exercises also serve as tool for state repression and national oppression.

  5. Raise and intensify the world peasants’ resistance for the dismantling of WTO and the junking of all instruments of imperialist globalization that wrought considerable havoc on all the farmers, fisherfolk and rural people the world over.

  6. Ban patents on life in the TRIPs agreement at the WTO. TRIPs tramples on the rights of farmers and indigenous peoples to save, conserve, exchange and develop genetic resources and preserve their traditional knowledge. Fight terminator technologies and ban chemical pesticides. Support the Farmers Rights at the UN FAO and the Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their knowledge and resources at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and CBD.

  7. Expose, oppose and resist all Free Trade Agreements like AFTA, NAFTA, CAFTA, and APEC, as well as FTAs like Jpepa, Japan-Thailand, RP-US Free Trade, US-South Korea and the likes. The ’Aid for Trade’ should not be used to promote developed countries ‘free trade agenda”.

  8. Stop the deceptive programs of the International Monetary Fund-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.

  9. Cancel all unjust debts of peasants, farm workers and fisherfolk. Stop all usurious practices against peasants.

  10. Educate, mobilize, and organize farm workers to analyze their situation and create a unified action against imperialist policies.

  11. Expose pseudo farmers’ organization and NGOs masquerading as pro-farmers and pro-poor and which are serving as agents of imperialism and reaction.

While we recognize the importance of strong peasant movements in our own countries, we are also resolved to forge firm solidarity among farmers, peasant women, dalits, agricultural workers, fisherfolk, herders, pastoralist and the working people and anti-imperialist forces all over the world to advance the democratic demands and struggles of the peasants, peasant women, farm workers and fisherfolk for genuine agrarian reform and against imperialist globalization and plunder.

The broad peasant and rural people alliances at the local and international levels shall solidify and strengthen efforts and campaigns to intensify the resistance against imperialist globalization, plunder and war, expose and oppose all the US-led imperialist camp’s tools and instrumentalities that put farmers and the rest of the toiling masses to slavery and worldwide exploitation by foreign monopoly capital.

While mass education, solid organizing and mobilizations of farmers, farmworkers, fisherfolk and oppressed people in the countryside are primarily considered in building strong peasant and rural organizations, the need to increase and expand the membership of farmer, farmworker and fisherfolk organizations in the ILPS is a paramount concern for all anti-imperialist and democratic forces.

We further resolve to adopt the following plan of action:

  1. Active recruitment of organizations, especially peasant organization, for membership to ILPS. Further expand and consolidate the ILPS, especially the ILPS study commission on concern number 6. Unify, propagate and implement ILPS campaigns, programs and activities.

  2. Consolidate and defend the gains of peasant and rural peoples’ struggle for land, food, justice and their democratic rights.

  3. Exchange information that can be useful in our struggles. Encourage exchange visits where we can learn from each other’s experiences. The Peasant Study Commission of the ILPS shall take the lead in providing venue for a deeper understanding of all farmers and rural people’s struggle, the situation they face and the challenges they confront through education, collective discussion and exchange of information and literatures.

  4. Coordinate campaigns at the regional and global level in order to amplify their impact. The workshop group proposed to support the year of rice action (YORA) that will culminate during the 50th anniversary of the International Rice Research Institute in 2010; the permanent peoples’ tribunal against agrochem TNCs in 2009; Asia-level Peoples’ Caravan on Land and Livelihoods in 2008-2009; and other regional and international events.

  5. Work for the global formation of the anti-imperialist peasant alliance for the advancement of the peasant cause for land, truth, justice and democracy and the world’s people’s fight against imperialism.

  6. Actively support and coordinate the international campaign against global displacement of farmers and rural people the world over to be led by anti-imperialist peasant formations. Right now massive displacement of peasants and rural folks are widespread in India, the Philippines and other third world countries to give way to the transnational agenda of imperialist powers led by the US.

  7. Launch an international campaign to expose and oppose extra-judicial killings, political persecution, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations under the guise of ‘war of terror’. Utilize and maximize all appropriate venues, including the UN Human Rights Council, to ventilate these issues and related calls and demands.

  8. Lobby with the FAO Committee on Food Security in relation to ICARRD. Maximize the UN FAO International Planning Committee as a venue to discuss peasant issues and struggles.

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

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