La Via Campesina

From Anarchy In Action
La Vía Campesina logo.png

Established in 1993, La Via Campesina (LVC), meaning The Peasant's Way, is a network of an estimated 200 million peasants, fishers and small-scale farmers in 81 countries. With a decentralized structure, they are autonomous from NGOs and political parties.

Their website is [1].

The movement's green anti-capitalism, direct action-oriented strategy, and decentralized organizational structure have much in common with the horizontal unionist strategy of Green Syndicalism. Some researchers have found overlaps between LVC's approach and the philosophy of Ecofeminism.[1]

Philosophy

In 1996, LVC coined the term "food sovereignty" which they define as "the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems."[2] La Via Campesina strongly opposes capitalism and patriarchy.[3]

LVC identifies the root causes of climate change in: "Current global modes of production, consumption and trade... a development model based on capital concentration, high fossil energy consumption, overproduction, consumerism and trade liberalization."[4]

Strongly opposing industrial agriculture and genetic modification, LVC is committed to agroecology, which combines modern ecological science with traditional understandings in order to achieve sustainable small-scale food production. The movement considers true agroecology to be intrinsically radical and feminist:

“[a]groecology is political; it requires us to challenge and transform structures of power in society. We need to put the control of seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture and the commons in the hands of the peoples who feed the world."

"We women among us are not objects of policies that want to empower us, but rather we are active subjects of Agroecology and guardians of Biodiversity. We want our central role in food production and in the reproduction of life, as well as in the economy of our families and communities, to be visible and recognized. Agroecology means that our rights as women are protected and realized, not just as moth-ers and caregivers of our homes. Agroecology implies our full participation in the social and political life of our communities, ensuring our access to land, water, seeds"[5]

Noting the potential of such methods to be less greenhouse gas intensive and perhaps even able to draw down carbon into the soil, LVC believes that "Peasant agroecology cools the Earth." LVC believes there is an urgent need to decentralize food production and "to reduce meat consumption and improve its distribution in accordance with what is simultaneously ecologically, nutritionally and culturally appropriate."[6]

Structure

LVC has a decentralized structure, with the vast majority of decision-making and organizing taking place at the local and national levels. LVC's organizations unite into 9 regions.[7] Each region has a face-to-face decision-making assembly that nominates 3 delegates to meet at the International Conference every 3 to 4 years. That conference forms the Internal Coordinating Commission with 2 representatives, one man and one woman, form each region. The Internal Coordinating Commission is the main organizing body at the global level.[8]

Because an estimated 70 percent of the world's farmers are women, LVC is especially committed to involving women at all levels of decision-making. The LVC's Women's Assembly meets before each international meeting and their deliberations are taken seriously by the Internal Coordinating Commission which itself requires half of delegates to be women.[9]

Activities

LVC runs about 70 schools and training processes[10] and has organized and participated in many mobilizations. One report summarizes that La Via Campesina members "have walked together in the streets of Geneva, Paris, Seattle, Québec City, Quito, Rome, Johannesburg, Porto Alegre, Cancún, Hong Kong, Copenhagen, and Durban, among other major cities. Whenever and wherever international institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) meet to discuss agricultural and food issues, La Via Campesina is there."[11] In 2017, LVC members participated in a horizontally-organized blockade that temporarily shut down an open-pit coal mine in Hambach, Germany. The thousands of blockaders organized horizontally and were influenced by ideas of queer feminism and North-South solidarity.[12]

LVC's member organizations include Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement which has seized land where 150,000 families currently reside.

LVC has supported 15th Garden movement, a horizontally-structured and anti-Assadist urban farming movement in Syria. The name 15th garden comes from the March 15th anniversary of the Syrian Revolution.[13]

LVC's Cuban affiliate ANAP led the campesino-to-campesino (farmer to farmer) movement that spread agroecological techniques which dramatically improved both per-hectare and per-hour productivity.[14]


  1. Terran Giacomini, "Agroecology as Ecofeminist Activism" in The Routledge Handbook of Ecosocialism, eds. Leigh Brownhill, Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro, Terran Giacomini, Ana Isla, Michael Löwy, and Terisa E. Turner (London: Routledge, 2022). E. Woodhouse, "Ecofeminism, carbon capture, and La Via Campesina," in Justice and food security in a changing climate eds. Hanna Schübel and Ivo Wallimann-Helmer (Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2021), https://www.wageningenacademic.com/doi/10.3920/978-90-8686-915-2_9.
  2. Laura Gutiérrez Escobar, "Food Sovereignty" in Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary, eds. Alberto Acosta, Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Ashish Kothari and Federico DeMari (New Dehli: Tulika Books, 2019), 185-188.
  3. "#8M2021 Against the Virus of Patriarchy and Capitalism, the Vaccine of Feminism and Solidarity!," 8 March 2021, https://viacampesina.org/en/8m2021-against-the-virus-of-patriarchy-and-capitalism-the-vaccine-of-feminism-and-solidarity/.
  4. Quoted in Woodhouse, "Ecofeminism."
  5. Quoted in Giacomini, "Agroecology."
  6. La Via Campesina, "La Via Campesina in Action for Climate Justice" in Radical Realism for Climate Justice: A Civil Society Response to the Challenge of Limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C (Heinrich Böll Foundation, 2018).
  7. https://www.jpic-jp.org/t/3-la-via-campesina-international-peasants-mouvement.
  8. Michael Mesner, "Transnational Participatory Democracy in Action: The Case of La Via Campesina," Journal of Social Philosophy 39, no. 1 (2008): 20-41.
  9. Mesner, "Transnational Participatory Democracy," 31.
  10. https://viacampesina.org/en/international-peasants-voice/.
  11. Annette Aurélie Desmarais and Paul Nicholson, "La Via Campesina: An Historical and Political Analysis," https://viacampesina.org/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/05/EN-10.pdf.
  12. Giacomini, "Agroecology."
  13. https://viacampesina.org/en/war-crimes-in-syria-must-stop-stop-bombing-citizens-food-crops-and-vegetable-markets/.
  14. http://links.org.au/files/Cubaland2011.pdf.