Political Declaration of the Recent Agrarian Summit in Colombia

Bogota, March 16, 2014

(Translated by John I. Laun, a CSN Volunteer Translator )

Convoked by the Roundtable of Agrarian Dialogue MIA (Mesa de Interlocucion Agraria), the National Agrarian Coordinator (CNA), the Congress of the Peoples, the Process of Black Communities (PCN), the Roundtable of Agrarian Unity (MUA), the Coalition of Social Movements and Organizations of Colombia (COMOSOC), the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), the Movement for a Popular Constituent Assembly (MCP), the National Unitary Land and Cattle Union Federation (FENSUAGRO), the National Association of Campesino Reserve Zones (ANZORC), and the Popular Campesino Association, the Agrarian Summit: campesina, ethnic and popular, was held in the city of Bogota on March 15-17, 2014. The Summit brought together 30,000 persons coming from all of the regions of the country.

The Summit is part of a process that has been being built from the time of the agrarian and indigenous strikes of 2013. Those mobilizations cost the lives of 19 companions and another 600 wounded, and dozens were detained and imprisoned. The national government sat down to agree to a series of proposals and agreements in roundtables of dialogue and negotiation. The Summit was born shortly after this “rebellion of the ruanas, ponchos and walking sticks”, which received the broadest national and international support. President Santos called together the landed and cattlemen elites and the rural unions for an Agrarian Pact, excluding in this way the agrarian movement from the definitions and measures adopted on the subject of national agrarian policy.

The Summit prepared a list of the failures of the national government to comply with the commitments acquired, the points agreed upon and the agreements signed. It advanced the process of unifying the agrarian movement in Colombia and, from this, defined a unified route for mobilization and mechanisms for an articulated and unitary negotiation. The Summit defined the ways to confront together the disastrous neoliberal policies applied by successive governments and to sow dignity, to create hope, and to harvest a new country from the initiatives of the campesino, indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations.

The Summit considers that, through an exercise of sovereignty, we peoples and communities should be the ones who order our territory, define its uses, and the distinct ways of inhabiting it. This popular territorial ordering ought to harmonize the conservation of the environment with the use which the agrarian communities make of the lands for their survival.

Our territorial proposals demand the respect of the collective figures of the government itself and the defense of the territories of the campesino, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.

For us a thorough agrarian reform continues to be the structural solution to the problems of access to land, formalizing land-ownership and rural development, with social investment and public policies.

In this proposal it is necessary to detain the extractivist model which concentrates land ownership, delivers ownership of land to multinational businesses, ends the campesino economy and destroys life.

The Summit proposes an economic model which guarantees the survival of the peoples through strengthening of the campesino, indigenous and Afro-Colombian economies, and of the popular sectors. Territorial autonomy is a determining factor in the construction of an economic policy and one of production of foodstuffs which is sovereign. For that purpose the regulations which permit the transnational monopoly over seeds and ancestral knowledge must be abolished.

Access to the mining and energy riches must bring with it respect for the goods of mother earth. Its development must be a decision consulted with the communities and carried out as an exercise of national sovereignty.

As we consider an alternative to crops of coca, poppy and marijuana, we are called to reject the prohibitionism which allows as a solution repressive treatments, indiscriminate fumigations, forced eradication and the imprisoning of those who plant these crops. We understand the recognition of their traditional, ancestral uses and the alternative uses. We propose programs of autonomous, gradual, and harmonized substitution, with guarantees of markets for the sale of the alternative crops.

It is imperative that the Colombian people know the truth, and that it be complemented with mechanisms of justice and reparations. Historical memory is an important contribution to advancing toward non-repetition.

The political guarantees we seek include the non-criminalization of social protest and not taking such protest to court, and the dismantling of military penal privilege (fuero penal militar). There should be broad, effective participation, of a decisive character in matters of planning and definition of policies of crop and cattle production and of rural development, taking into account the proposals made by the communities in an autonomous manner.

We the people have the right to a dignified life and that we be guaranteed the necessary material conditions. A special budget should be set up to guarantee the financing of territorial initiatives, with autonomous mechanisms to carry them out.

The State should recognize that many of the problems which the cities experience are a consequence of the application of economic models which despoil the rural sector.

The impulse of agrarian and popular economies has an important support in the help which it receives from the large populated centers. It is necessary to advance pacts between the large capitals and the municipalities which provide them the foodstuffs for the family market basket.

The political solution to the social and armed conflict continues to be the desire of the society in search of peace with social justice. For this reason it is fundamentally important and urgent that a process of dialogue with the insurgents of the ELN and the EPL be initiated. We support the dialogues of Havana between the government and the FARC. We emphasize the role which we, organizations and processes as a social movement with our own voice, can play. The regional dialogues are an important tool for advancing in the construction of a social and political agenda for peace. The Agrarian Summit undertakes the impulse to a great social movement which works for peace as a condition of life and demands guarantees for the participation of the society.

The Agrarian Summit achieved, for the first time in the history of social movements in the country, the construction of a unitary position paper of the campesino, indigenous and Afro-Colombian organizations. This position paper represents the political, economic, social, environmental, cultural and territorial demands of communities which have historically been marginalized and excluded. It is a calling to attention of the national government concerning the urgency of attending structurally to a rural world which demands to be subject to rights. The Summit also proposes a unified roundtable for negotiation, a setting which will permit qualifying the level of dialogue, avoiding delay and dispersing by the government, and achieving agreements which can be carried out in the short and medium term. The unity reached today is also the unity of action. We now can rely upon a route of social mobilization which will make effective and reachable the rights which we have been denied. The Summit and its proposals are a definitive bet for the achievement of peace. A peace, which in order to be stable and lasting must be constructed from below, with us, men and women, a socially inclusive peace, based upon truth, justice, effective political participation and with human rights fully in force in the rural areas of Colombia.

The Summit is a transitory part of a constituent process proceeding hand-in-hand with the indigenous Minga, the congresses of the people, territorial councils of the people, the constituent processes for peace and social justice, the mechanisms of direct participation and autonomy which are exercised each day by the rural and city communities which demand to be recognized. The political and social agreement which builds the peace ought to be the culminating part of this constituent process. The possibility of a national constituent assembly process is on the horizon of reflection of Colombian society in its totality. We are building our own route from the popular movement to arrive at that moment. The road to peace requires, in the meantime, a decided and vigorous social movement for peace, to which we invite all political and social sectors of the society. An inclusive peace cannot be built with “accords of the elites and tie-wearers” who do not know those who wear ponchos, those who wear ruanas, those who work with hoe and machete, those political and social individuals of the countryside and their proposals.

Given the repeated failure of the national government to comply with its promises and the commitments it made in order to lift the agrarian strike of last year, it is the decision of the Agrarian Summit: Campesino, Ethnic and Popular to return to the national agrarian strike, whose zero hour will depend upon the government’s response. The Summit extends a time limit to the government of until the first week in May. Beginning at that moment the Summit will go down to the indigenous reservations (resguardos) and to the rural settlements in the Afro-Colombian and campesino territories, to the neighborhoods and social organizations of the cities, to the labor unions, to organize strike committees and to invite all social and popular sectors in conflict to agree upon a coordinated dynamic with a view toward establishing a popular bloc.

The proposals of the government are not solutions. The Agrarian Pact is another distributing of public resources with clientelistic and electoral goals. The national government has an historical opportunity to solve the structural crisis of the countryside beginning with our proposals gathered together in the unitary position paper. We believe in social dialogue as the route to reach social justice and the longed-for stable and lasting peace for Colombia. Our proposals are upon the table; the government has the historic responsibility of heeding them.

(This translation may be reprinted as long as its content remains unaltered and the source, author and translator are cited/ Esta traducción se puede reproducir si su contenido permanence sin alterar, y si se citan la fuente, el autor y el traductor)

PLEASE,SHARE THIS INFORMATION AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE, and let the Unites States Congress know that we will not accept US support if the Colombian Government brutally suppresses the voice of its people.


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