Small Farmers Gather in Cancun for Alternative Global Forum

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Image by Beatriz AG via Flickr

This week in Cancún, an alternative conference on climate change and social justice is being convened. The international small farmers movement La ViaCampesina and other grassroots organizations are holding the alternative Global Forum for Life and Environmental and Social Justice, with participants attending from across Latin America.

Here are a few of their voices from this Democracy Now story.

ANTONIO CANDELARIO: [translated] My name is Antonio Candelario. I come from the north of the state of Jalisco. As indigenous people from Sierra, we are protectors of the environment. We are appealing to the world on behalf of life for all of humanity. But these people who know so much and have the latest technology don’t realize that they have broken the womb of Mother Earth through exploiting oil, mining, cement making, building highways, deforestation.

JORGE CASTILLO: [translated] My name is Jorge Castillo, and I am here because history calls me to be here. I am from Mexico City. I hope to meet with many people. It’s great that so many have come from so many places. The presence of the indigenous peoples is very important in this resistance. And what I want to do is to learn and see how we are going to strengthen ourselves to move forward in order to face the war with capitalism.

KELDA MILLER: My name is Kelda Miller. I am from Sumner, Washington, outside Seattle. And I’m here because I really want to be a voice for the Americans, for the United States. Remember Cochabamba. Remember the Cochabamba agreement and that, well, a lot of us are really wanting the rights for indigenous people, rights for the Mother Earth. We’re really wanting real solutions. And so, it seems like what’s going on inside is not real solutions.

PAUL NICHOLSON: My name is Paul Nicholson. I’m a Basque farmer, and I’m a member of Via Campesina. We’re here at the Peoples’ Forum for Social and Environmental Justice, communities of all Mexico, witnesses of the climate change, and demanding alternatives, demanding that governments address climate change and its causes and not just making a business out of it. And when you go to the other official forum, in incredibly luxurious conditions, the only subject they are addressing is business, how to make money out of climate change. For us, a non-agreement is the best possible solution of this week—a non-agreement, because what is being proposed is a very bad agreement, a very bad agreement which legitimizes all the privatization of all life. We think that this non-agreement gives us a chance of fighting for a binding agreement in the future.

ALDO GONZALEZ ROJAS: [translated] My name is Aldo Gonzalez. I come from a group that is called the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez, which is in Oaxaca. And I’m here because we are part of the national assembly of those affected by the environment. And we are involved in a struggle for corn against genetic modification and for the defense of our territories, so that we can freely determine our own way. We’re not interested in being paid for environmental services or programs. What we want is self-determination.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: And finally, do you have any message to the people watching and listening to this program?

ALDO GONZALEZ ROJAS: [translated] I think the U.S. is one of the countries where most of the greenhouse gases are produced, and the model of consumption that exists in that country is a good part of the cause of all those greenhouse gas emissions. I think that development should not be measured by those who consume the most. In our communities, we have a saying, that the one who needs less is wealthier than the one who has more. This contradiction between our way of life and the way of life for those in the U.S. tells us that the rich are not necessarily the ones who have the most.

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