La Vía Campesina

An Evolving Transnational Social Movement

9 March 2007
Saturnino M. Borras Jr
Vía Campesina unites more than a hundred national and subnational organisations from Latin America, North America, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe opposed to neo-liberalism and advocating a pro-poor, sustainable, rights-based rural development and greater democratisation.

Indonesian

Vía Campesina unites more than a hundred national and subnational organisations from Latin America, North America, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe opposed to neo-liberalism and advocating a pro-poor, sustainable, rights-based rural development and greater democratisation. It is an ideologically autonomous and pluralist coalition. It is both an actor and an arena of action. Claiming global and popular representation, Vía Campesina has emerged as a major actor in the current popular transnational struggles against neo-liberalism, demanding accountability from inter-governmental agencies, resisting and opposing corporate control over natural resources and technology, and advocating food sovereignty, among other issues. It has figured prominently in politically contentious campaigns such as those against the WTO, global corporate giants such as McDonalds, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) along with the transnational companies that promote them, such as Monsanto.

Focusing on the global campaign for agrarian reform, this paper looks at four broadly distinct but interrelated aspects of Vía Campesina's development:

  • Agendas and aims 
  • Alliances, rival movements and the question of autonomy 
  • Strategies and forms of collective actions 
  • Representativity and accountability.

 In each case, the current Vía Campesina situation is presented, positions clarified, dilemmas identified, and challenges put forward.

 

About the authors

Jun Borras

Saturnino 'Jun' M Borras Jr. is a political activist and academic who has been deeply involved in rural social movements in the Philippines and internationally since the early 1980s. Borras was part of the core organising team that established the international peasant movement La Via Campesina and has written extensively on land issues and agrarian movements. Jun is also Adjunct Professor, COHD at China Agricultural University, Beijing; a Fellow for Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy in California and Coordinator for Initiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies (ICAS).