Small farms as a planetary ecological asset: Five reasons to support the revitalization of small farms in the global South

Miguel A. Altieri, President, Sociedad Cientifica Latino Americana de Agroecologia (SOCLA)

The Via Campesina has long argued that farmers need land to produce food for their own communities and for their country and for this reason has advocated for genuine agrarian reforms to access and control land, water, agrobiodiversity, etc, which are of central importance for communities to be able to meet growing food demands. The Via Campesina believes that in order to protect livelihoods, jobs, people’s food security and health as well as the environment, food production has to remain in the hands of small scale sustainable farmers and cannot be left under the control of large agribusiness companies or supermarket chains. Only by changing the export-led, free-trade based, industrial agriculture model of large farms can the downward spiral of poverty, low wages, rural-urban migration, hunger and environmental degradation be halted. Social rural movements embrace the concept of food sovereignty as an alternative to the neo-liberal approach that puts its faith in an inequitable international trade to solve the world’s food problem. Instead, it focuses on local autonomy, local markets, local production-consumption cycles, energy and technological sovereignty and farmer to farmer networks.

Continue Reading

United States Maneuvers to Carve Up Bolivia with Autonomy Vote

By Roger Burbach

The illegal referendum held on Sunday to declare autonomy in Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s richest province, is backed by the Bush administration in an attempt to halt the leftward drift of South America. While the US embassy in La Paz blandly declares its support for “unity and democracy” in Bolivia, the government’s Interior Minister Alfredo Raba states what is widely known, that the United States “has an agenda more political than diplomatic in Bolivia, and this agenda is linked to opponents of the current government.” Evo Morales, the first indigenous president of the country, bluntly declares: “The imperialist project is to try to carve up Bolivia, and with that to carve up South America because it is the epicenter of great changes that are advancing on a world scale.”

Continue Reading

The Constitutional Battle in Bolivia: Indian President Evo Morales Confronts Violent Opposition

By Roger Burbach

While international attention is focusing on President Hugo Chavez and the Sunday referendum on the Venezuelan constitution, a conflict that is just as profound is shaking Bolivia. Evo Morales, the first Indian president of the country, is forcing a showdown with the oligarchy and the right wing political parties that have stymied efforts to draft a new constitution to transform the nation. He declares, “Dead or alive I will have a new constitution for the country by December 14,” the mandated date for the specially elected Constituent Assembly to present a constitution for the country to vote on by popular referendum.

Continue Reading

The Final Battle in Bolivia

By Roger Burbach

Evo Morales, the first Indian president of Bolivia, is forcing a showdown with the oligarchy and the right wing political parties that have stymied efforts to draft a new constitution to transform the nation. He declares, “Dead or alive I will have a new constitution for the country by December 14,” the mandated date for the specially elected Constituent Assembly to present the constitution.Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linares states, “Either we now consolidate the new state – with the new dominant forces behind us, or we will move backwards and the old forces will again predominate.” A leading trade union leader, Edgar Patana, put it bluntly: “The final battle has begun, and the people are prepared for it.”

Continue Reading

Ecuador’s Popular Revolt: Forging a New Nation

By Roger Burbach

This article is published in NACLA’s Report on The Americas, The Multipolar Movement? Latin America and the Global South, September-October, 2007**

Ecuador was in a festive mood May 1, 2007 as tens of thousands rallied in Quito to celebrate International Workers’ Day. Trade unions, barrio committees, professional associations, and an array of social movements and leftist political parties marched to the city’s historic San Francisco Plaza. Among the marchers was President Rafael Correa and members of his cabinet. Correa later addressed the throng, proclaiming that this May Day represented “an epochal change,” both for Ecuador and all of Latin America. “This is the socialism of the 21st century,” he said, “the recognition of the supremacy of those who work over capital.”

Continue Reading

Ecuador: The Popular Rebellion Against the “Partidocracia” and the Neo-Liberal State

A CENSA Strategic Study
By Roger Burbach

On January 15, 2007, Rafael Correa assumed the presidency of Ecuador after running against Alvaro Noboa, the richest man in Ecuador who’s company the Noboa Group is on the Fortune 500 list. Correa, who held no prior elective office, did not represent any political party. After his name on the ballot were the words “Alianza Pais” meaning Country Alliance, a name chosen when he announced his candidacy. Alianza Pais endorsed no candidates who ran for election in the country’s unicameral Congress.

Continue Reading

Ecuador’s Nascent Leftist Government Victorious in Confrontation with Right

By Roger Burbach
March 23, 2007

Featured in the Guardian UK

Roger Burbach

The two month old government of leftist Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and the popular movements that back him have emerged triumphant in their first battle with the oligarchy and the traditional political parties that have historically dominated the country. Correa in his inaugural address in January called for an opening to a “new socialism of the twenty-first century” and declared that Ecuador has to end “the perverse system that has destroyed our democracy, our economy and our society.”

Correa’s presidency is rooted in a militant mass movement that has been mobilizing and challenging the country’s ascendant economic and political interests for years. The Ecuadorian political system, referred to as a “partidocracia,” is run by factious political parties dominated by oligarchs who pull the strings on a corrupt state that includes Congress, the Supreme Court, as well as the presidency until Correa’s election. Even Michel Camdessus, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, once commented that Ecuador is characterized “by an incestuous relation between bankers, political-financial pressure groups and corrupt government officials.”

Continue Reading