The Guararema Declaration

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The Work Group of Social Movements and Grassroots Movements from the International Network for Human, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (The ESCR-Net) gathered together at the Florestan Fernandes School in Guararema, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil for the workshop of mutual learning on human rights and the third solidarity visit. With the participation of 11 countries, the meeting addressed issues related to land, territory and natural resources. 

After having carried out solidarity visits to Thailand, Kenya and taking into account the situation of vulnerability of peasants, indigenous peoples and afro-descendents around the world and the lack of access to human, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights, the need arose for the creation of a workshop on mutual learning and the third solidarity visit. We spent six days exchanging experiences, strategies and discussing these themes.

With technical workshops we have discussed the possible strategies as well as national and international tools that social movements and human rights organizations can use to secure citizenship to people. We have also seen how to make the access to human rights effective in a concrete manner by carrying out solidarity visits to one of the MST (Landless People's Movement) settlements in the municipality of Itapeva (State of Sao Paulo), and the "Heirs of the Struggle of the Porecatu People" encampment, State of Paraná.

In field visits we have witnessed how social movements are able to foster the access to basic rights, which provide a dignified life to both men and women, historically marginalized by the current political, social and economic system. It was found that through social grassroots mobilizations people are able to achieve some of their rights directly (landless people's encampments) or by putting pressure on state national agencies (the creation of settlements) or together with international agencies. We have noticed that social actions of land occupation, the visit to Porecatu, apart from being legitimate, can also provide a dignified life, as seen in the Itapeva settlement, thus contributing to the establishment of the Rule of Law.

We were impressed by the organized popular action of the MST, which give marginalized communities access to human rights, secured by the Brazilian Constitution. This is the duty of the state however it has not been fulfilled as it should.

At the same time what has drawn our attention was how economic and political groups violate the Brazilian Constitution by establishing a social exclusion system which precludes access to basic rights. This system secures the unlawful and unfair land concentration, which in Brazil means that 1% of land owners own approximately 50% of the agriculturable land. Examples of this abuse can also be verified in the case of the Atalla Group, for example, which was found to have slave labor in the cutting of sugarcane in Porecatu.

During the visits to the encampment and settlement of the MST we have seen a sustainable production which respects natural resources and at the same time provides life quality to workers both men and women. We have witnessed how energy can be produced in a sustainable manner with the use of biodigestors that are integrated to the agro-ecological production chain. At the same time, we saw how the agribusiness fiercely destroys the environment and natural resources, for example, by the abusive deforestation which took place in Porecatu for the implementation of sugar cane monocultures.

We were shocked to hear about the criminalization and repression that those encamped and settled suffer to fight for their basic rights.

The examples seen are not particular or isolated situations. As verified during the activities, they are global challenge faced by peasants, indigenous peoples as well as organized afro-descendents both men and women. These struggles represent the real hope to build an alternative development model which is based on the well being of all peoples and on sustainability of the planet for the well being of future generations.

We are convinced that the existence and the actions of social movements are fundamental for the promotion of dignity of all and that governments should support both, the organizations as well as the objective of their struggle.

We have concluded that the current agribusiness model has no possibilities to further develop, since it does not generate anything but social exclusion and poverty.

Hence, we demand:

  • The speeding up of the agrarian reform throughout Brazil, particularly the creation of the settlement "Herdeiros da Luta do Povo de Porecatú" (Heirs of the Struggle of the Porecatu People), State of Paraná.
  • The punishment of all those responsible for establishing and maintaining slave labor in Brazil, and a full compensation to workers who have been rescued, particularly those in Porecatu, State of Paraná.
  • That peasants and the agro-ecological agriculture are put first as a development model in rural areas, so as to overcome the agribusiness model and the concentration of land that it generates.
  • From the Brazilian government: respect to peoples' rights in Brazil and abroad, particularly with regard to large projects such as the IIRSA (the Regional Integration of Infrastructure in South America).
  • That the Brazilian government develops effective programs for the protection of defenders of human rights and that social movements be not criminalized and the government does not connive with initiatives in this sense.
  • That the Brazilian government and all other governments around the world ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • The assurance to democratic access to land as a fundamental right, which once implemented will allow decent living for all.
  • That governments throughout the world declare and enforce agro- biodiversity to be a human right and seeds to be a heritage of the people, opposing projects of privatization of life, particularly the development of genetically modified seed technology.
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