Were are here in representation of AELLA, the Latino and Latin American Association of the Graduate Center’s Doctoral Student Council. We come to express our support and solidarity with the many groups and communities fighting for peace with social justice in the beautiful Colombia. Friends, many important social struggles are taking place in Colombia at this moment: students, miners, indigenous and afro-colombian peoples and campesinos are all mobilizing for peace, social justice and end to decades of state violence and military oppression, land dispossession and starvation wages. The past 12 years have been particularly brutal for Colombia’s campesinas y campesinos. The intensity of the narco funded war between the military, the paramilitary and FARC has increased the displacement of peasants and contributed to an unprecedented accumulation of land in the hands of landed elites and multinational corporations- as much as 5 million hectares (the equivalent of 7 million soccer fields). As if this weren’t enough, the government is throwing peasants in jail for using their own seeds, instead of purchasing genetically modified seeds from Monsanto and other agro-chemical giants. Meanwhile, the score of FTA’s signed by President Santos has led to an influx of cheap, highly subsidized food imports whose prices are driving small farmers out of business and their ancestral way of life, and making Colombia more and more food dependent and insecure. As peasant leaders in Colombia have stated, the government’s agrarian development plan calls for a campo sin campesinos, (a countryside without farmers), where neither food production, equitable land distribution, or social justice for rural communities is considered. Thus more than ever it is crucial that we in the solidarity circles of the world come out to stand by our Colombian compañeros y compañeras to let them know that they are not alone, that we have them in our hearts and mind, and that we are confident that they will succeed because their cause is the cause of love, dignity, and true justice. As a mayan poet once said: “pueden cortar las ramas y quemar el arbol, pero debajo de todo permanecen las raices, listas para florecer de nuevo.”
Intimidated, incarcerated, forcefully displaced, used as human shields, falsely identified and murdered, exploited, starved, beaten, sprayed with agent orange and round up ready, expropriated of land and seeds, demeaned, excluded, criminalized and yet, and yet, the campesinos, the indigenous and afro-colombian peoples, the socially conscious students and the urban working classes, are still there resisting, organizing, mobilizing, striking, blocking roads, shutting down the system, bringing the country to a halt, and showing the neoliberal paramilitary narco-State, Imperialist America and Transnational Capital that oppression will never ever succeed against the will of a people who’s time has come.
¡A mas represión, mas organización!
¡Vivan los Campesinos, Indiginas y Afro-Colombianos!
¡Vivan las Zonas de Reserva Campesina¡
¡Vivan las mujeres campesinas¡
¡Fuera Monstanto de Colombia!
¡Abajo con el Plan Colombia!
¡Ababjo con la Militarización de Latino America!
¡Viva Latino America Unida!