Sept. 20 – The Peasant Summit that was held Sept. 12 in Bogotá, Colombia, meant on the one hand the defeat of the false agrarian pact of the Juan Manuel Santos government and on the other an opportunity to unite the Colombian popular movement. Thousands of peasants who attended the conference from all over the country heard Piedad Córdoba, spokesperson for the Patriotic March of the Social and Political Movement, make a revealing commentary on the popular movement in Colombia.
In Córdoba’s address, she referred to the Agrarian Summit as a space for the defense of both the land and a great popular, social and political movement that is a prelude towards the great convocation of the Popular and Agrarian Summit planned for Oct. 20.
“This country is rising up against ignominy, against oppression; it has raised the flag of the Peasant Farmers’ Reserve (Zona de Reserva Campesina) because the ZRCs represent the defense of life against the Free Trade Agreements.
In her discourse, Córdoba emphasized the role of the Popular and Farming Board of Interlocution and Agreement known as MIA. As is widely known, [Colombia’s] national government tried various measures to ignore this board, first by negotiating with one sector on strike, while leaving out the sectors mobilized and represented by the national MIA that represents more than 80 percent of the mobilized sectors of peasants on strike.
Córdoba responded to President Santos’ recognition of the MIA on Sept. 8 in Popayán by stressing the Spanish adjective “mía” meaning “my” and which corresponds to the initials for the board, MIA:
“MIA sounds so beautiful, MIA seems to say my Colombia, MIA says my struggle, the struggle of the people, the struggle of the peasants, MIA says the defense of my life, the defense of life itself, MIA means the defense of men and women that wake up when the roosters crow, that get up to the barks of the faithful dog that will never abandon them, to work my land, who search for my peace, who search for my Colombia, for inclusion, for solidarity. Long live the peasants’ MIA that means peace in Colombia.”
Unity of city dwellers with peasants
Piedad Córdoba highlighted the magnificent support given to the peasants on strike by the inhabitants of cities across all Colombia: “I think that the true unity of the Colombian people is beginning, the unity of a people that from the fields, from the Afro-Colombian communities, from the unity of the Indigenous, of the peasants, of the mestizos and mestizas, the unity of a people that stretches its hand out to the urban centers and cities in order to say loudly while we beat on pots and pans, that today the people of the cities understand clearly that we must defend the Colombian countryside.”
She affirmed that the popular movement will not allow itself to be divided and called on the national government to not try to divide, threaten, terrorize or silence the mobilized people. She acknowledged Huber Ballesteros, the outstanding popular Colombian leader, arrested in Bogotá during the first days of the strike, and sent a message to the Minister of Defense Pinzón:
“I say to the minister of war, that you will not be able to put all of us in jail, that you will not be able to kill all of us, that if you manage to jail us, the jail will become a front line, the jail will be a place of struggle and from the jail our cries for justice will be heard; don’t think that the laws of sepoys imposed by congress are going to mean anything to millions of peasants that walk through the streets of this country telling the world and Colombia that the Free Trade Agreements are a death trap for the people of this country, that the FTAs rob us of our historic destiny, that the FTAs that were signed on the backs of the people kill hope and rob the lives of peasants.”
She also added, in relation to the Patriotic March of the Social and Political Movement and referring to new laws against the right to protest that the national government was signing into law in congress: “Don’t think that the criminalization of social protest is going to tear the cry of struggle and liberty from our throats, from the Patriotic March, what many of us represent with pride and many others may disavow, in the March we are the patriots, we are the ones who want to construct a different country.”
Right then she issued a call for the unity of the Colombian popular movement: “We are the patriots, those who embrace the Congress of the Peoples and say to them that together we must construct unity because together we are strong and divided we are alone.” She also reaffirmed the call for a National Constitutional Assembly, and ratified opposition to the proposed referendum by the national government, declaring that the formula for peace was in the six points of the document of petitions of the National Strike.
In a clear message to President Juan Manuel Santos, Córdoba announced that the next Agrarian and Popular Summit will be held in October of this year: “We are telling you that we are preparing the greatest Agrarian Summit that has ever been seen in Colombia in the last 50 years because the Agrarian Summit is going to be magnificent.”
With respect to the National Agrarian and Popular Strike she declared that the people are not tired nor are they going to beg: “Mr. President, we are not saying it in a threatening tone, nor Mr. President do we say it fearfully … Mr. President, we demand it with the dignity of the people, with the dignity of our country, with the dignity of Colombians who are fighting for peace.”
Córdoba demonstrated the support of the social and popular movement at the round table discussions in Havana: “… We are not going to allow him to undermine discussions in Havana … we are also telling him not to modify the constitution in order to defeat us with the referendum.”
Córdoba ended with a call to the peoples of the world: “From here we say to the world that we are giving birth to a new democracy, that we are giving birth to a just democracy, that we are giving birth to a new Colombia that is born of men and women that love their country, that defend her, that defend their land, but above all think of the possibility of a future and a better tomorrow and that is formed from the hand of this great popular movement.”
Source: Alternative Media Network — Colombian Popular Press Agency. Translated by Donna Lazarus, WW/MO. Broadcast of Cordoba’s talk at tinyurl.com/kb87nd6