Organization Profile – La Via Campesina

Authored by: Matthias Dietz

Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415839259
eBook ISBN: 9780203773536
Adobe ISBN: 9781135038878


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La Via Campesina is an international network supporting the rights of small farmers. During the years it has become more and more focused on climate politics. The Spanish name of the network means ‘the way of the farmers.’ It was founded in 1996 and currently has 148 member organizations from almost 70 countries. By describing itself as peasant movement the network claims to be a social movement (Desmarais 2007). This category seems to have some justification because La Via Campesina shows movement characteristics such as high growth dynamic and the frequent use of protest as a political instrument. Furthermore, the member organizations have developed a common identity. Groups such as Confederación Campesina Peru, Landless Peoples Movement South Africa, or Farmers from the Austrian Alps share the idea of food sovereignty. They demand that small farms should be sustained and that the local population should be able to decide what and which technique it wants to plant with. Despite their different living conditions and countries of origin, the members of La Via Campesina have developed a common understanding of rural farming and rural life. They act together to realize this idea and support each other in conflicts regardless of national borders or huge geographical distances.

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