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“From the land: unity, struggle, and resistance, for Socialism and the sovereignty of the peoples”
Campesino youth organizations from across Latin America and the Caribbean kicked off Tuesday their annual conference in Cuba. where they will discuss the future of organizing for agrarian reform, building socialism and defending the progressive governments of Latin America in the face of U.S. attacks, as well as the challenges facing Campesinos in a region with some of the most unequal levels of land ownership anywhere in the world.
This year's conference is organized by the Coordinator of Rural Organizations and is being held in the municipality of Güira de Melena in the province of Artemisa, Cuba. This year's meeting, 25 years after the first conference, there will be 450 delegates representing 85 Campesino groups from 21 countries in Latin America and the Carribean.
The conference will run from June 25 to June 30 with each day having a different theme. On Tuesday, the event was opened by young delegates, under the slogan “Youth in the countryside and in the city: Building popular power.” The following day will be led by women under the slogan “with feminism, we build socialism”.
Iridiani Graciele Seibert from the Women’s Campesino Movement, and Jaime Amorim from Brazil’s MST, wrote ahead of the session saying that on both days there will be extensive discussions about how women and young people can help build strategies of struggle and raise participation in the fight for agrarian reform and food sovereignty, and how Campesino spaces can be made more inclusive, democratic.
On Thursday, the hosts will lead discussions, the Cuban Association of Small Farmers will convene the meetings and share their experiences working in the framework of Cuba’s progressive agrarian reform that broke the power of large landowners at the start of the 1959 revolution.
“This will be an opportunity not only to learn about Cuba but also to learn about the experiences and challenges that young people throughout the Americas and the world face,” Yannara Concepción, from Cuba's Communist Youth Union, said ahead of the meeting.
Lastly, the final two days will focus on building the Campesino movement, strengthening ties between Campesino, Indigenous and Afro-descendent organizations, with discussions on how to build the struggle for food sovereignty and against the agro-export capitalist model. The title under which the discussions will be held is “From the land: unity, struggle and resistance, for Socialism and the sovereignty of the peoples.”
The conference is held amidst a difficult climate for social movements. Such challenges include the ongoing repression of rural social leaders in Colombia, or the threats against MST in Brazil, the largest and best known Campesino movement, which President Bolsonaro has threatened to list as a terrorist organization.
However, another important theme is the ramping up of U.S. aggression towards governments of the left in Latin America, including the harsh economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
In an interview with Nodal, Deolinda Carrizo, a Campesino leader in Argentina, stressed the need for solidarity with the region’s progressive governments.
"Faced with the onslaught and siege by capital, not only against Cuba, but also against Venezuela, Nicaragua and even the destabilization of the government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the CLOC (conference) supports the popular governments to avoid the deepening of the [regional] shift to the right,” Carrizo warned.