Rafael Alegría, a peasant leader from Honduras and the Coordinator of Vía Campesina's Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform, joined the launch of the Campaign in Africa at this year's World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya by handing over Zapatista corn to the African delegates.
I am again amazed by the power of networks...
While much of the US labor movement continues to flounder, the 3,000 almost entirely immigrant farmworkers that make up the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) have just followed up their victory over the world's largest restaurant company, YUM! Brands (owner of Taco Bell), with another victory over McDonald's...and are now aiming their sites at Burger King.
The CIW has won these historic victories in large part due to its capacity to build a rich web of alliances with students, clergy, politicians, you name it...even the "official" labor movement. They build horizontal and participatory relationships with other forces, recognizing their unique strengths, struggles, desires and creativity. This is not just consistent with a vision for a democratic movement within which the most oppressed are self-empowered, but it is also proving more effective at transforming the world for the better than the pyramidal structures of "Big Labor"...
And the CIW is an adherent to the Zapatistas' Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle meaning that they are also connected to a Mexican movement called the Other Campaign and an "intergalactic" movement called the Zezta Internazional.
The Zapatistas, meanwhile, have just launched a World Campaign for the Defense of Autonomous Indigenous and Peasant Land and Territory in Chiapas, Mexico and the World. Inspired by the heightened struggle to defend their territories in Chiapas, the Zapatista-launched campaign has already received letters of support from João Stédile of Brazil's Landless Workers Movement and Rafael Alegría (see his picture above and my translation of his letter below), along with over a thousand signed supporters from throughout Mexico and the World.
Moving forward with the second phase of their participation in the Other Campaign, members of the Zapatistas' Sixth Commission are traveling to set up their presence in the North of Mexico, including the Cucapá Camp. They have also announced that they will soon be releasing the final results of the internal consultation of the Other Campaign to collectively elaborate on the first of its three goals: To create an other way of doing politics. This has been a long process involving the input of over 10,000 individuals, families, groups, collectives, and organizations (not including the Zapatistas).
The Zapatistas' Sixth Commission is now pushing for members of the Other Campaign to begin moving forward on the second goal of the Campaign: To create a national program of struggle. They have also signaled their commitment to continue mobilizing against the repression of their compañer@s, especially in the Yucatán, Oaxaca, and Atenco.
And so the web thickens...
Here is Rafael Alegría's letter sent to the public event in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas to launch the World Campaign for the Defense of Autonomous Indigenous and Peasant Land and Territory in Chiapas, Mexico and the World:
The Global Struggle for Land and Agrarian Reform
Compañeros and Compañeras Zapatistas:
I write you in the name of the Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform of Vía Campesina International. Vía Campesina is an international movement of peasant, indigenous, landless, rural workers, and peasant women and youth organizations. The Global Campaign supports local and national struggles for land and territory, and we fight against privatization and the mercantilization of land and natural resources.
Vía Campesina has a history and a debt with you, compañeros and compañeras of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. In 2003, when Vía Campesina helped to mount the great mobilization of Cancún, against the train of death, the World Trade Organization, the cards and recorded messages of Comandanta Esther, of Comandante David, and of Subcomandante Marcos, were what motivated and inspired us in that battle in which we obtained a powerful victory, although at the cost of the delivery of the life of a member of the korean peasantry, and martyr of the peasant struggle, Lee Kyung-Hae. Thank you, compañeros and compañeras; in Cancún we felt that our struggle was your struggle. It’s more, the Zapatista struggle is a struggle that inspires all of us peasants throughout the world.
And as peasants, indigenous and landless peoples, we feel that your struggle to defend your lands and recuperated territories is our struggle. We recognize the validity of the agrarian reform made by the Zapatistas in their territories, based in the Agrarian Revolutionary Law of 1993, and we denounce the coordinated ‘counter-reform’ agrarian campaign, in which paramilitary groups, the military, the agrarian magistrate and press, and the government conspire to displace the Zapatista communities of the land and territory recuperated as part of their 1994 uprising.
The Zapatistas made a true agrarian reform in their territories, and now, just as in other countries where agrarian reforms have been made, the powerful seek to reverse these reforms, with the use of paramilitaries and extra-judicial violence, intimidation, fear, and the so-called ‘rule of law’ in which they use the judicial authorities to unmake the reforms, reconcentrate the land in a few hands, and attack the territories of the people. It is the same throughout the world.
Because of this, the Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform of Vía Campesina completely supports, and is a part of, your World Campaign for the Defense of Land and Indigenous Territory and Autonomy. We are in the same struggle, compañeros y compañeras, and together we will win!
That We Globalize Struggle!
That We Globalize Hope!