Over 100 global organizations declared Friday to be “Day of the Landless.” They marked the occasion with a statement denouncing neoliberal plunder of the planet’s natural resources and reaffirming marginalized rural communities’ claims to land and food sovereignty.
The declaration is endorsed by over 100 international and national organizations including the Asian Peasant Coalition, Food Sovereignty in Action Europe, GRAIN, and Arab Group for the Protection of Nature, as well as the Farmworker Association of Florida and Zambia Social Forum.
“We see how massive infrastructure projects and agricultural ‘development’ programs, many funded through onerous foreign debt and investments, displace rural peoples from their lands, livelihoods, and cultures—all in the name of imperialist domination and plunder, local elite rule, and private profits,” the groups wrote.
“The neoliberal restructuring of agriculture,” added the coalition, has contributed to a situation in which the vast majority of the world’s agricultural land is in the hands of a wealthy few—despite the fact the vast majority of farms are held by small holders. It is these small farmers “who actually till and enrich the lands for generations.”
In their zeal to pursue profits by snatching up ever more land for destructive plantations and mining operations, governments and corporate entities are carrying out “human rights atrocities” against small farmer advocates, the groups noted, referencing a catalog of documented killings, assaults, and threats.
Despite this grim backdrop, however, the declaration is far from being just gloom-and-doom.
The groups shared “some of the stories of resistance” such as Brazilian campesinos occupying contested lands, and announced their intention to stand “with even greater resolve and determination to reclaim our lands and future.”
“We mark the Day of the Landless to let the world recognize our legitimate demands for land to the tiller and genuine agrarian reform; for food sovereignty; and for people’s rights and democracy,” they stated.
“Today,” they concluded, “we reaffirm our commitment to reclaim our lands and our future from the powerful forces that took them away.”
The new statement coincides with the kickoff the “No Land, No Life!” campaign.
According to organizers PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) and its partners, the goals of the campaign are to: