“Mother Earth belongs to those who take care of it, territories belong to the people, sovereignty is popular.”
15,000 delegates from campesino (small-scale farmer) organizations, and urban and rural worker organizations, from indigenous and Afro-descendent organizations, from urban dwellers, the organizations of victims of crimes of the state and victims of capitalist development have met in Cali between September 30 and October 4, 2011 regarding the protection of life and Mother Earth, to confirm our willingness to work and joint mobilization, and continue the process of our own legislation of territory.
We have come to defend life and Mother Earth. We found that the only way of life is not consumerism, addiction to oil, the destruction of nature and a war-driven economy. Those of us present here are already building the alternative: territories governed by the communities, social relations and fair and equal labor, sustainable economies ruled by the respectful use of the goods of nature, and autonomous decision about food production.
We regret that the government and some media outlets insist on reporting that these goals, and the demonstrations we do to achieve them, are terrorist threats. As stated by the editorial of El Tiempo on October 3: “there is a substantial increase in popular mobilization;” but they are wrong when they say that behind these actions there is insurgent presence. The continuous use of false accusations prevents them from seeing that behind the social mobilization there is actually an indignant response from the people against the destruction of nature, the invasion of the territories by the extractive industries, the plundering of natural assets, the continuity of an unjust agrarian structure —denounced in recent days in the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) report.
We have confirmed two theses: the profound inequities of the political and socio-economic system governing Colombia, and the opposition to the political bloc in power to transform this model and reform itself. On the contrary, the country is still kidnapped by the mafia and the parapolitica. Furthermore, the actions that the national government says it takes in order to face these sectors, make it clear, it will not go to the root of the problem —the persistence of armed large-landholders and their alliance with the industrial and financial oligarchy— and instead it will use the just social aspiration to combat the paramilitaries and the dispossession of land, to further adjust the territorial model to the capitalist requirements.
This awareness reinforces what we have been saying for some time now. It will not be in the spaces of institutionalism where we, the popular sectors, will find the answer to our demands for rights —we have had to legislate and act by our own to guarantee them—. We must go beyond being simply the political opposition, and build by our side and in our own way the country that we dream and want. Our involvement in government spaces to enforce the compliance of the state’s obligations on human rights will only make sense if at the same time we build self-governing communities and strengthen our ability to manage life and territory.
The set of legislative measures and policies that recent governments have been promoting or intend to carry out —the conversion of Colombia in an open-pit mine, the imposition of the so-called "engines of progress," the delivery of the countryside to Business Development Zones, the awarding of the country to the mining-energy industry, the constriction of the rivers and waters. In short, to convert Colombia to a duty-free zone of 200 million hectares —is nothing else but the agenda of the national and transnational capital, and both can be summarized in what can be called the "privatization of the territories", in other words, to take away from society and the people the right to organize and govern their living spaces and give them to private capital.
Each of the struggles that our peoples have been facing in the last months, are to confront this dispossession. In Santurbán (Santander) these struggles are for the decisions about water to be taken by the communities who drink it. In the Quimbo (Huila) and Hidroituango (Antioquia) for the choice between food for the communities or energy for the transnational companies to be a decision taken by their inhabitants rather than by the bureaucracies at the service of capital. In Puerto Gaitán (Meta) for the country’s restoration of subsoil heritage. In La Toma (Cauca) for black communities to continue managing their sources of life. In La Colosa (Tolima ) for them to remain masters of their water and their life. In the north of the indigenous Cauca for the Free Trade Agreement with the United States not to strip people from their food self-sufficiency. In Malaga Bay (Valle), Bahía Solano (Chocó ) and Bahia Portete for ports not to destroy the food base of the communities. In San Andrés for native islanders not to be exiled in their own land. In the big cities for free zones and dry docks not to be banned sites for the population. In Teorama and El Tarra to prevent the Mother Earth from being defiled. Each of these struggles are to prevent the deterritorialization and dispossession.
Although victims of development and dispossession, our communities have become defenders of the sovereignty that the state –which should be their guarantor–, has abandonedto the fair of the confianza inversionista, or the confidence of investors. The revival of the popular social struggles in Colombia has been taking place in search of the defense of Mother Earth, the territories and national sovereignty.
This is a similar dynamic in the entire world. The capture of the states by private interests has sparked a wave of indignation in Europe, South America and the United States against the plundering of the economy and public life. They all claim, like us, the right to direct their lives, their economies and their countries. We do not hesitate to say that we are part of those, the indignant of the world.
The peoples, organizations and workers have adopted seven thematic mandates, 10 macro-regional mandates, and a Mandate of Mandates on lands, territories and sovereignties. This is a series of serious commitments in the building of a new country, acquired by organizations and processes for which we take responsibility for following them through. Among them we consider of vital importance the following:
To consolidate the unity of the movement and grassroots organizations to care for Mother Earth, defend territories and consolidate popular sovereignty. The spirit of unity and fellowship that has accompanied us in this Congress will have to converge in a large social and popular movement for Land, Territory and Sovereignty. A first step is the creation of a space to coordinate the processes that we add to these terms.
The second general mandate is to take care of Mother Earth and recognize its rights. He or she who does not care for Mother Earth does not deserve it. Those who destroy water sources to exploit gold and oil do not deserve it either. This Congress has mandated to ban the large mining and unbridled exploitation of oil. It has therefore declared non-grata and illegal the presence in our territories of the Anglo Gold Ashanti, BHP Billiton, Xstrata, Pacific Rubiales, Cosigo Resources, Smurfitt Kappa, Cemex, Medoro Resources, Grey Star (now Eco Minerals Gold Corp) and Union Fenosa, for their direct involvement in attacks on communities and territories, and its systematic attack on national sovereignty. We have notified them that through the use of the ancestral right of indigenous and afrodescendents, the rights of peoples and of Mother Earth, the right to life and peace, the constitutional norms and international law of human rights, we will perform the corresponding actions to prevent their presence, to leave the country and to be punished.
The third mandate is to do –as popular social organizations- all civilian political actions to build a road towards a political solution to the armed conflict. The war in our territories profoundly alters the harmony of the communities and nature, and one cannot expect improvements in human rights if the conflict continues. The right to peace can only be achieved if we make it ourselves through war resistance, the requirement that the armed actors respect humanitarian law –particularly the opposition to women's bodies being used as loot of war–, and direct action to demilitarize our territories. The Colombian people and all its social expressions will adopt an agenda of national and regional dialogues on the National Peace Congress to be held next year, to which we will be present.
The fourth general mandate is to deepen the liberation of Mother Earth and to conduct a participatory land reform. We will not permit that instead of the large-landholdings of drug trafficking and paramilitary groups (which must be dismantled) the installation of the large-landholdings of the agribusiness conglomerates. By contrast, those lands –stolen though hundreds of years from indigenous, peasant and afrodescendents– must be restored to our communities. We will peacefully occupy what by history and by right belongs to us, and where differences may arise on the territorial rights of each nation or sector, we look to the principles of inter-ethnic unity and respect for their resolution.
The fifth general mandate is to constitute the social organizations and communities as protectors of water. From the exercise of self-government and authority we will take on the management, administration and protection of water sources, confronting its privatization and degradation; product of the expansion of the agricultural, and mining-energy frontier and the development of mega-projects that threaten its availability.
The general sixth mandate is to build an articulated economy of the people, not subject to global market to ensure food sovereignty and independence and the knowledge associated with seeds, plants and foods. We will strengthen the practices of production, processing, exchange and culturally appropriate consumption, socially just and in harmony with life. We will not use or allow pesticides or transgenic products. We will prevent the presence of agrofuels plantations and other monocrops that threaten our territorial sovereignty and food industries.
The seventh mandate is to create a reform for the country's territorial land that entails a democratic popular urban ordering of the regions recognizing the diversity and differences of both peoples living within urban territories, and in the cities of Colombia.
The eighth general mandate is to undertake all necessary actions until the masterminds and perpetrators of the extermination against our people are judged. We collect the seeds of life, memory, truth, justice and reparation, planted by the popular fighters in the defense of life and Mother Earth, and victims of this conflict.
The children present in the Congress have approved an additional mandate: we must consolidate spaces for them to deliberate and make sure that their contributions are taken into account. The future of the territory is at risk if we do not wake up their hearts and their consciences to defend it. Obeying their word, we will always generate spaces where children of our peoples can think and build the country of their dreams.
These are the mandates of the peoples and popular organizations. We will obey them. We will mobilize in the streets and fields to make them become real. We call on everyone to engage with them, to the intellectuals to join this nation-building, to popular political parties to comply with them.
Tired of obeying. Tired of being consulted while others decide. We want to govern. We will govern our territories!
Mother Earth belongs to those who take care of it, the territories belong to the peoples, sovereignty is popular.
Colombian National Congress of lands, territories and sovereignties. Colombia, October 4th 2011.