We have been fighting two struggles simultaneously for the past nine years: the struggle for the land and the struggle for Mother Earth. The first is for a house and a piece of land where we can grow our crops. The second is to have a common home where all beings on the planet can live together.
Along this journey, hundreds of families of the Nasa people of northern Cauca have come together in the Process of Liberation of Mother Earth, an autonomous community struggle that we are engaging in alongside our indigenous authorities, as part of the platform of our organization CRIC.
In the struggle for land we have gained more than 12,000 hectares in 27 estates over nine years, and we will continue to move forward. In the struggle for and with Mother Earth the achievement is the same: 12 thousand hectares less of sugarcane monoculture in the Cauca river valley, a great respite for Mother Earth because the sugarcane agro-industry destroys biodiversity, damages the water cycle, and exploits people to slave-like levels.
This number is bound to increase, but as you can see, when a community confronts capitalism it always faces hurdles that are thrown in its path. So we need to make the most of these obstacles, sit on them, take a breath, take a good look at the situation and keep on working and talking.
– In the north of the Cauca there is no inter-ethnic conflict, but rather a direct struggle against capital in the form of the sugarcane agro-industry. For hundreds of years, since the palenques (communities of escaped slaves), we have lived as neighbors with the Afro community, we even fought together in the wars of independence. The peasantry supported us to create our organization CRIC. This is what the video “Invasores” which we launched on December 8th talks about. They want to make us communities fight among ourselves so they can keep the land for themselves.
– We do not call our struggle « agrarian reform », we call it the liberation of Mother Earth; by liberating Mother Earth we have carried out an agrarian reform of 12,000 hectares without the support of the state; on the contrary, the state has always positioned itself at the service of the agro-industrial landowners, the largest of which is Ardila Lulle. Now, this government has the historic opportunity to support our struggle. But we are well aware of the temptation to make use of it, or to side with the powerful to gain an advantage in the chess game of national politics.
– In the Cauca river valley there are around 400,000 hectares of land planted with sugarcane (or however many). If we subtract the 12,000 hectares that we have already liberated with our struggle, the government still has 388,000 hectares (or however many) left to carry out agrarian reform without affecting or distributing what we have already gained through our sweat and blood.
– In the lands we have liberated we dream, and sometimes we have experienced, to connect with our Mother Earth in a different way: to become her sons and daughters again, with care, respect and affection. Sometimes we get confused, because there are many pressures, but we will persist in this dream, based on our knowledge on the ground.
– The video “Invasores”, which we released to the world on December 8th, is our way of seeing the struggle for the land and for Mother Earth historically: a joint struggle between communities, from every corner of the Earth, for the same Mother and against the same enemy.
– And that is why we say: if we do not free Mother Earth, in a few years the water in the Cauca river valley will be scarce, and all ecosystems will be affected. We need to shift to another way of relating, from every corner, with Mother Earth. This is something we have been saying for years, it is not a campaign slogan.
– In this northern part of the Cauca, and in the Cauca River valley, there is enough space for all communities, with their different forms of autonomous organization as grassroots processes. Anything that comes from above no longer belongs in our struggles. If we fight to liberate our Mother Earth, it is to liberate ourselves. It is not a struggle to replace the master, it is also a struggle for there to be no more masters.
This is our message for today. With deep respect for the peoples, struggles and communities that listen to us and read us,
Process of Liberation of Mother Earth,
December 14th, 2023.