(Translated by Sharon Bagatell, a volunteer CSN Translator; edited by Patricia Paskov)
National Association of Farming Reserve Zones- Anzorc
September 22, 2014
The National Association of Farming Reserve Zones – Anzorc, brings together 50 farmer organizations that build ZRC in Colombia.
* The Agrarian Coordinator of Anti-Imperialist Youths is born.
* “We remember that the ZRC are part of multiple agreements with the farmers’ movement which the governments have not followed through on. The government should respect their determined words and follow through on those agreements.
*Gathering of coffee growers in the Farming Reserve Zones
*Esmad and Army enter into gunfire in Ocaňa and kill two farmers from Catatumbo
*The Farmers’ Reserve Zone received full political support from the European Union, the United Nations system and agencies of international cooperation in Ascamcat
*Patriotic March greets the IV Gathering of Farmers’ Reserve Zones
*Dialogue does not advance in Catatumbo
*Agrarian summit will do a balance of the Boards of Discussion and Agreement – MIA – with the government
*“What is urgent now is that we find an exit to the crisis of Catatumbo” Cesar Jerez
*Displacement of three towns
*Murder, torture and threatens to civilians
*The citizen hearing on the truth about Catatumbo is deferred
*Massacre of Tibu a decade for memories and against impunity
*Farmers’ Reserve Zones
4th National Meeting of the Farmers’ Reserve Zones Tibu, September 20, 2014
In times heavy with desire for peace for the country, 8,000 farmers from all regions of Colombia have gathered in the heroic agrarian territory of Catatumbo. We enjoy and are grateful for the accompaniment of students, academics, international collaborators and other sectors of society despite the campaign of sabotage begun by the national government, which has diminished the enthusiasm of representatives of the international community to accompany us. The government itself has refused to attend this meeting.
During all of the past meetings we had the presence of delegates from the Ministry of Agriculture and the directors of Incoder. This time the Minister of Agriculture himself, Aurelio Iragorri, promised to attend the meeting, but he did not keep his word. The General Manager of Incoder and the responsible directors of the farmers reserve zones, as well as the entirety of state entities, were invited but did not make an appearance, giving credence to the sense of their persistent veto. On the contrary, the Armed Forces and the National Police showed openness to design the security of the meeting, making good on their promises, which we greatly value.
We have given continuity to the deliberations that define our struggle for agrarian territorial and structural reform, in a moment of hope of achieving an agreement that sets the foundations for the construction of peace with social justice. At the same time we are building the unity of the agrarian struggle of the popular movement, but the concentrators of the land, the pillagers of our territories, lash out against life with a guarantee of a timid government that turns its back on its people.
A demonstration of this is the systematic official attack on the Farmers Reserve Zones, which confirms the aptness of our proposal and our struggle in its defense. This meeting, then, represents a moment of major challenge and the beginning of a more intense phase of our struggle. We condemn the government for continuing to operate conditionally in following through on its obligation to the Farmers Reserve Zones, and to the development of the negotiations with the FARC, because at the margin of these, the state has an historic debt with the farmers in general, and with those who defend the Farmers Reserve Zones.
As a result of two days of deep discussion we declare:
Faced with the deliberate brake that the government imposes on the accomplishment of its legal obligation to promote the Farmers Reserve Zones, and to those that from a dark cave see them as monstrous apparitions, we announce that we maintain all of our determination in sustaining our fight for the farmers’ territory. Neither overt nor covert intimidations will stop us, mediocre and fallacious arguments disguised as empty evaluations will not stop us. We will employ with strength our traditional forms of struggle: organization, mobilization, legal actions and all that the legitimacy of our demands call for.
We reaffirm the decision to process the territorial conflict between afrocolombians, indigenous groups, and farmers through means of dialogue, and to continue with the construction of the proposed intercultural territories. We send a call of urgency to move forward in this struggle for territory, sovereignty and justice, and urgency in dealing with the most complex intercultural territorial conflicts.
We defend and will continue fighting for the recognition of our rights as farmers in terms of the Declaration of Rights of men and women farmers. We demand our territorial autonomy, respect for our culture, recovering of memory, and our own means of organizing, which advance our relationship with the urban world, academia, and other sectors of society that we call on to accompany us in our struggles.
We continue to repudiate the criminal treatment of farmers who find ourselves forced to grow coca, marijuana, and poppies, crops whose use is associated with narcotrafficking. We oppose the requirements of such treatment because it can clearly be understood that the cultivation of these crops is a social matter, not a criminal one. Better that these crops be substituted or that we return to diversified use of crop land, recovering and empowering traditional practices that are used as a tool of productive reconversion.
We will advance with strength the leadership of women in our struggle, beginning with this meeting, when the political platform of women farmers in farmers’ reserve zones is launched, and we decide to form a committee of women to push forward actions that guarantee their rights and just treatment in political and private life, recapturing the popular conquests of women.
The farmers’ reserve zone is a seedbed of peace, providing great advantages through a strategy of rural farmer intercultural education that protects, promotes and teaches management of our natural resources. It promotes sustainable management of the territory, as well as autonomy and sovereignty regarding the use and conservation of natural resources, as part of our national heritage. We demand the necessary normative changes to recognize the territoriality and property of the land in forest reserve and in protected areas, incentivizing forest, food and agro-ecological production, and recognizing farmers as subjects and agents of conservation of the natural environment.
The peace that we want is one which recognizes our rights, our territorial autonomy and harmonious co-habitation between African-descended peoples, indigenous peoples, and farmers. The consolidation of the farmers’ reserve zones is an instrument to reach this peace, and a National Constituent Assembly the way to lay its foundations democratically.
We recognize the value of accompaniment of international solidarity and we are excited to continue it, by helping to combat stigmatization, supporting initiatives from the bottom up, and generally helping with strengthening of the vision of farming communities.
The benefits of our mining and energy riches should revert to the country, beginning with the generation of knowledge and technologies which allow us to define the convenience or not of every project, impeding its implementation when it is not of benefit to us, creating ecological borders against exploitation, recognizing traditional wisdom, and making projects conditional to previous free and informed consent. For now we are committed to prior popular consultations to stop the ransacking of our territories.
The recognition and articulation of the local farming economy of the farmers’ reserve zones in the participating regions not only is viable but is a necessity for the just generation and redistribution of the wealth and wellbeing of the country , and especially for food sovereignty. For this to happen, the rise of diagnostic territories and a public policy in concert with the farmers are needed.
We support the just statement of demands of the urban population of Tibu that asks for payment of a large social debt due to the exploitation of natural resources.
We salute and we accompany the declaration of the Farmers Reserve Zone of Catatumbo that represents a peace initiative from the territory and a recognition of farmers.
We back the beginning of the Catatumbo farmers group to create the first intercultural territory, and we urge the town of Bari to join this iniciative.
Due to the rejection, exclusion and violence against us, we are turning over to our country our proposal and our daily work for justice and peace. We give to our country farmers’ territories generated autonomously. But we’re not turning them over to the voracity of the greedy, instead we turn them over for the purpose of life with dignity for all. We turn them over for peace, and we will be there defending that peace.
For a structural agrarian territorial reform and for peace, long live the permanent unified struggle!
For the farmers’ territories, not a minute of rest, a whole life of organization and mobilization!
Afrocolombians, indigenous, and farmers, children of the same earth, brothers and sisters of a single struggle for territory!
Women strugglers, women builders of peace, women of the earth, women of the Farmers Reserve Zones!
No to the criminalization of growers of coca, marijuana, and poppies! Yes to the gradual and concerted substitution!
Long live the Farmers’ Reserve Zones! Long live the farmers that defend them!