SELINGUÉ, FEB. 24 – João Pedro Stédile is one of the main leaders of the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST in Portuguese), and a reference in the international peasant struggle. At Selingué, the village in countryside Mali where the World Forum for Food Sovereignty, or Nyéléni 2007 (http://www.nyeleni2007.org), is taking place, Stédile is among 600 delegates from 118 countries. With his usual clarity and modesty, he was in charge of presenting MST’s and other Brazilian movements’ contributions to the action plan and the final document that will result from the Nyéléni 2007 debates.
“I believe we have to incorporate as a principle in our struggle the concept that food cannot be a merchandise…, food has to be everyone’s right,” said Stédile at the plenary of the Agriculture and International Trade Negotiations thematic group.
He added that a second strategic definition must be “the struggle against water privatization, as water is a natural good, and cannot be claimed as private property.”
It can be expected, thus, that peasant movements and movements against water privatization all over the world will start to coordinate their respective struggles on a common basis, which Stédile called “the ideological critique of capitalism.” He added, “we must challenge the capitalist idea that everything is merchandise, or meant for profit.”
Regarding international agriculture trade, Stédile clarified, “we are not against trading agriculture products, but trade cannot be based on profit – it must be based on people’s needs.” Therefore, he added, the peasant struggle against negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) must also consider that “multinationals and imperialist governments dominate the United Nations.”
“WTO, IMF, the World Bank, and all this international shit does not represent people’s interests,” declared the Brazilian peasant leader. “We have to fight for a new international order.”
As a final point, Stédile warned against the dramatic advancement of biofuel. “Capital wants to take foods from the people to feed the cars of Northern bourgeoisies. We have to fight this from the root, and that is that the world needs to change its transportation energy matrix. We must oppose individual transportation, and fight for collective transportation.”