Thousands of farmers belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and 20 foreign participants are building to a climax of the "People's Caravan 2000 - Land and Food Without Poisons" today.
After the successful activities in India and Bangladesh, the international Caravan ends today with a massive protest rally against globalization and for genuine agrarian reform to achieve food security, social justice, and land and food without poisons.
The last day of the caravan brings the participants from the Department of Agriculture, where they held a vigil, to the office of Monsanto in Makati. According to the Caravan participants, the company deserves a notice of eviction, as it is one of the biggest transnational corporations (TNCs) that have become notorious for pushing harmful pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Simultaneous protest actions are being held in front of the Monsanto office in General Santos City in Mindanao. The culminating activity is a rally in front of the US embassy to commemorate "One Year since Seattle" and condemn US domination on Asian agriculture.
"Marginalized communities all over Asia are making a stand against globalization and TNC control of their lives, including increased pesticide use, the onslaught of genetic engineering, increased landlessness, and the erosion of food security," said Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, executive director of Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP). She added: "Now the people are fighting back."
Mr. Ganarai Dorairaj Xavier of the Society for Rural Education and Development (SRED) of India joined the Caravan from the very start on November 13. He said that the People's Caravan is an expression of the frustration of millions of peasants, fisherfolk and indigenous people with the exploitation by landlords and TNCs of their lands and food, and ultimately their lives.
Bangladeshi Mr. Rafiqul Haque of UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternatives) advised Philippine farmers to junk the seeds and pesticides of the TNCs altogether. Habibur Rahman, a farmer from Nayakrishi Andolon (New Agriculture Movement), added: "the Bangladeshi farmers reject genetically engineered rice and I was pleased to learn about the strong resistance here in the Philippines."
"The People's Caravan is an important development in the increasing solidarity among Asian farmers against imperialist globalization," KMP chair Rafael Mariano said. "We have forged an International Alliance against Agrochemical TNCs in order to continue this struggle," he added.
Mariano explained that it is through the impositions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) that farmers are driven from their lands and become virtual slaves of the poison industry. According to the peasant leader, these problems even worsened in the Philippines under the Estrada administration.
"One year ago, the WTO sparked massive protest in Seattle," he said, "and we will continue to oppose liberalization, privatization and deregulation as long as they are wreaking havoc on the peasantry." The People's Caravan 2000 is organized by PAN AP; the Tamil Nadu Women's Forum and SRED from India; UBINIG and the Nayakrishi Andolon of Bangladesh; and KMP in collaboration with SHISUK (Bangladesh); CIKS and PREPARE (India); Gita Pertiwi (Indonesia); NESSFE (Japan); CACPK (Korea); and Food First (USA).
Date : 1 dec 2000