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IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!

Sign on Letter and Delivery Delegation

DEADLINE: THURSDAY, April 17 at 10 AM EST -- letter will be hand delivered Thursday afternoon.

SUPPORT -- International Day of Farmers Struggle ---

Organizations and social movement groups from around the world supporting small farmers, Including V�a Campesina and El Campo No Aguanta Mas (Mexican peasants movement "The Countryside Cannot Take it Any More"), are mobilizing an international day of protest and education on April 17, 2003. Below is a list of countries where rallies, teach-ins and forums will be taking place. This week in the US representatives from El Campo No Aguanta Mas are touring around the U.S. and Canada talking about NAFTA and their campaign pressuring the Mexican Government to renegotiate NAFTA's Agriculture Chapter. learn more at: http://www.globalexchange.org/education/speakers/LessonsofNAFTATriNatio nalTour.html

On the 17th there will be a series of rallies and protests in front of the Mexican Consulates in many US cities.


ACTION:

The Sign on Letter included below will be hand delivered by a solidarity delegation to the Mexican Embassy on Thursday, April 17th at 2:00 PM EST. To sign on to the attached letter email hfenney@ruralco.org Contact Person: Organization: Contact email: Phone: Location:

Join the delivery Solidarity Delegation: If you are in DC and would like to join us in hand delivering the letter to the Mexican Embassy please email hfenney@ruralco.org or call 202-628-7160. We will meet in front of the Embassy at 1:50 PM on Thursday and deliver the letter and voice our solidarity with the struggling Mexican peasants and the efforts of El Campo No Aguanta Mas (Mexican peasants movement "The Countryside Cannot Take it Any More")


ISSUE:

The efforts of Mexican peasant groups to reach an alternative agreement on the agriculture provisions in NAFTA with the Mexican government has been on going since March. We continue to wait to see what path will be taken by the Fox Administration and the peasants' organizations to deal with the current crisis in the Mexican countryside.

It was reported last week that the Fox administration agreed to ask Canada and the US to re-negotiate chapters in NAFTA that deal with tariffs on white corn and beans. Tariffs on these items are scheduled to end in 2008, though import levels have exceeded quotas established by NAFTA each year since 1996. Re-negotiation was one of the principal demands of campesino groups during weeks of dialogue with the federal government on the rural crisis. However, it may not be much of a capitulation on the part of the Fox administration. There have been diplomatic signs for several months that Canada and the US would not object to limited "adjustments" in NAFTA agricultural chapters.

Agriculture is a major issue in CAFTA and FTAA negotiations, and the US may be anxious to present a "reasonable" position in the face of mounting grassroots opposition. However, the Fox administration appeared to backtrack, refusing to explicitly exclude corn and beans from NAFTA. According to the government, tariffs on the two key products should be submitted to a panel for study, with a report due by the end of the year, and the ultimate decision should be based on "the most convenient strategies for the national interest." In addition, the federal government was unable to clearly define an emergency package and a multi-year budget that would provide increased assistance for agricultural producers. Campesin@ groups requested time to take the final 90-page document to their bases for consultation before it is approved.


LETTER:

Dear Presidente Fox,
We write to you representing U.S. farmer and international solidarity organizations, members of the religious community and others. We express our full support for the campesino organizations that make up the movement El Campo No Aguanta M�s and other agrarian organizations who have been participating in dialogue with the Mexican government on the renegotiation of NAFTA.

Considering the severity of the economic and social situation of the Mexican countryside, we feel it imperative to express our solidarity with the Mexican farmers in their efforts to establish a national strategy to reverse the crisis of the Mexican countryside. This strategy should include the renegotiation of the agriculture chapter of NAFTA and the development of an emergency aid package to offer immediate assistance to Mexico's agricultural producers. The agriculture chapter of NAFTA, as it currently is written, does nothing to benefit small and indigenous producers, rural people or the economies of their communities.

The benefactors of free trade are factory farm operations and agribusiness groups such as Cargill, ConAgra, and Archer Daniels Midland. The agribusiness industry receives millions of dollars in taxpayer support from the United States and uses this support to drive down prices until small, independent producers can no longer survive�in any of the participation nations. We find it unconscionable that more than 600 farmers in Mexico are forced off their land every day by the dumping of US and Canadian agricultural products�at no benefit to rural communities on any side of a border.

The campesino organizations have drawn attention to their crisis. We write to tell you that the countryside in the rural United States and rural Canada also cannot bear it anymore. We urge you to put pressure on the United States and Canada to renegotiate the agriculture chapter of NAFTA and adopted a new agreement that will protect the Mexican campesin@s as well as their brothers and sisters in the United States and Canada. The North American Free Trade Agreement has been devastating to farmers across the Americas. Since its inception 10 years ago, small farmers in the United States have been losing their land at a devastating pace.

During the same time, more than 2000 migrant workers have died in their attempts to cross the border in order to find work so they can feed their families. Those who have succeeded in crossing are facing increased exploitation as migrant laborers, and today earn less than they did two decades ago. Before the devastation created under NAFTA is expanded throughout Central and South America in new trade agreements, it is imperative that the consequences of the current agreement be recognized and rectified. In Mexico, the needs of the men and women who should be making their living from their own land in Mexico, helping to building up their own communities and a promising future for their children must be addressed.

On this International Day of Farmers� Struggle, we urge you to continue an open dialogue with the members of the El Campo No Aguanta M�s, and to carry their concerns to the governments of the US and Canada. We, for our part, pledge,to call upon the leaders of our respective governments to support the fulfillment of these same demands.

Sincerely, Rural Coalition Rural Advancement Fund North American Farm Alliance


ACTION:

The Sign on Letter included below will be hand delivered by a solidarity delegation to the Mexican Embassy on Thursday, April 17th at 2:00 PM EST. To sign on to the attached letter email hfenney@ruralco.org Contact Person: Organization: Contact email: Phone: Location: Join the delivery Solidarity Delegation: If you are in DC and would like to join us in hand delivering the letter to the Mexican Embassy please email hfenney@ruralco.org or call 202-628-7160. We will meet in front of the Embassy at 1:50 PM on Thursday and deliver the letter and voice our solidarity with the struggling Mexican peasants and the efforts of El Campo No Aguanta Mas (Mexican peasants movement "The Countryside Cannot Take it Any More")


MORE BACKGROUND:

At the Third World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, social movements agreed to continue their struggle against the WTO and other "free" trade agreements like the FTAA, and raise their voices for alternatives to these aggressive policies for liberalization and privatization. According to the most recent newsletter of Via Campesina, this period of mobilization and action is designed to protest against governments� selling off peoples� interests in the WTO and in other regional and bilateral trade agreements and to oppose the continued repression of peasant organizations.

For example, Jos� Bov�, spokesperson of the Conf�d�ration Paysanne has been sentenced to jail and in Mexico the government is intimidating leaders of the "El Campo no Aguanta Mas", a peasants� coalition. Leading up to the April 17th day of action, there was an action in Geneva on the 29th of March: This protest will demand that governments stop negotiations on agriculture and services in WTO in order to avoid further destruction of public services and farmer-based production of food. The protest emphasized the need to start working on alternatives to the WTO, liberalized trade and privatization.

We hope that the April 17th actions will help us build momentum to pressure all governments in the time leading up to the WTO Ministerial in Cancun.

List of countries where actions are taking place April 17th:
Australia United States Colombia Brazil Canada/Quebec Indonesia Italy Lebanon Nederland/Netherlands/Paises Bajos �sterreich (Austria) Switzerland/Geneva Uruguay _____

 
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