Veronique Léon, European farmer and former national secretary of the Confédération Paysanne in France, and Spitou Mendi, agricultural worker member of SOC-SAT*, Spain, participated in the international solidarity mission to Columbia.
Veronique Léon, European farmer and former national secretary of the Confédération Paysanne in France, and Spitou Mendi, agricultural worker member of SOC-SAT*, Spain, participated in the international solidarity mission to Colombia from the 19th to the 24th of September. Their aim was to support the movement of farmers who are demanding that the peace agreements, made with the national government following the mobilisation of the past years, are respected. This goal is not put into question by the victory of the “no” vote in this weekend’s referendum on the peace agreements signed by FARC-EP and the government of Juan Manuel Santos. The central issue concerns the right to land, and to territory of the farmers of Colombia, an issue which is dealt with in the rst part of the peace agreement which was signed by the Colombian government and FARC-EP. The mission observed the interference of and impact on multinationals, as well as the processes of restitution and reforestation. The mission listened to communities of farmers who spoke of the su ering provoked by unbearable violence, of which they are still victims. The purpose was to reinforce the links of international solidarity with rural organisations in Colombia in terms of their historic demands regarding the respect of the agreements signed by the government, the pursuit of agricultural reform, and the development of food sovereignty. The mission brought its support to those a ected by human rights violations, and gave special attention to the application of the voluntary directives for responsible governance of land tenure, applicable to land, sheries and forests, and how the Colombian government had applied these directives. The peace agreements were largely rati ed on Sunday by people living in rural or mountainous zones, but the residents of large towns largely abstained from voting or opposed the agreements (62% of voters abstained at the national level). Agriculture, and the rights of farmers, are issues which will crystallise the future of this nation. These farmers fear for their lives following 52 years of war where they themselves have been the principle targets; whether this threat comes from multinationals, the government, or armed factions. Drugs, palm oil, mines, gas, and industrial farming are all bitter enemies of subsistance farming, and farmers. The European Union, the FAO and La Vía Campesina are all registered backers of the peace agreements. The farmers of the European Coordination Via Campesina support their brothers and sisters in Colombia in their aims of fully achieving these agreements. *Syndicatos de Obreros del Campo Contact: Véronique Léon +336 22 16 1399 Geneviève Savigny: +336 25 55 1687 (Coordination Committee ECVC)