The Via Campasina March

La lucha sigue! La lucha vive vive!
Olay! Olay-olay-olay! Si se, pudede! Olay! Olay-olay-olay! Si se, puede!
El pueblo, unido. jamas seras vencido! El pueblo, unido, jamas seras vencido!

Dozens of chants from today´s march are still playing in my head. For seven hours nearly three thousand people walked south from Cancun towards the Moon Palace, under the sweltering sun and the whirring blades of the giant military helicopters that circled above us.

Many CYDers were there to march in solidarity with the millions of Latin American peasants, farmers, indigenous peoples and communities represented by Via Campasina. Not only do they face the serious consequences of climate change but their way of life is jeopardized by many of the ¨solutions¨ to climate change being discussed at the climate conference. For example, the REDD+ discussions could negotiate a deal that would give loopholes to polluters, potentially allowing logging companies to log and replant non-native tree species, or to count deforestation as a carbon reduction (under the pretense that the carbon that makes up forest product counts as carbon sequestered carbon from the atmosphere.) REDD+ could give logging and mining companies free reign in some areas, while in other areas preventing indigenous peoples from continuing their traditional lifestyles of sustainable hunting, cutting, and farming on their land.

Over the weekend thousands of peasants, farmers, and indigenous people bussed into Cancun, as part of the Via Campasina caravan. They had wasted little time in transforming the streets of Cancun into a swath of colours and cacophony of voices. For hours we strode south, until finally we were stopped by a roadblock by thousands of Mexican federales. The marchers stopped, only to begin  a people´s conference. Passionate spanish voices blared out of the loudspeakers as the CYD said its farewells and began looking for a bus home. My legs ached after seven hours of walking on pavement and my arms were burnt red, but every step of the march had been worthwhile. Today I saw the faces of the people who face the dire implications of climate change -their resolve and bravery will always inspire me.


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