Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 09:33:07 -0500
> S * IN ACTIV-L
/** reg.guatemala: 166.0 **/
Clear head, solid heart and combative fist of the rural workers
Declaration of the Fifth National Assembly of the Committee of Peasant Unity (CUC), 15 April 1996
On the occasion of our Fifth National Assembly we send to all fellow peasants of the different regions of CUC, to all the peasant organizations of CNOC, to the union organizations, to the organizations of the indigenous peoples, of the teachers, of the students, of the journalists, to the churches, women's organizations, of Human Rights, to all the organizations of the displaced, to cooperative members, NGO's, Civic Committees, to the FDNG, and the members of the URNG, for the search for peace, to all we send our solidarity greeting; we respect and appreciate all of you even though each organization has sought different forms of struggle to resolve our problems and to change Guatemala. The struggle unites us all.
Together with our greeting we wish to make known the principal conclusions at which we have arrived during the 3 days of our Fifth National Assembly, the highest authority of our Committee:
FIRST: We urge a negotiated solution to the land and labour conflicts that exist in the countryside. We demand a new agrarian and rural development policy.
We rural workers have reached a situation which can no longer await solutions to the problems of the tenancy, use and care of the land. Because of this we raise our voice, together with other organizations, together with the cry for land of the Guatemalan bishops, so that in this conjuncture a just accord is reached that gives hope for improving our lives, stabilizing the country, and moving towards real peace.
It is not possible that our country continue having the same agrarian structure; the same infrastructure in order to work, conduct commerce, and move about; and the same lack of services.
We no longer accept that a small group of landowners should be a brake and a set-back for the rural development of the country, since they are the ones who continue to oppose the transformations, use repression in place of negotiated solutions, snatch away by force our right to the land, buy-off the justice system when we present our cases in the courts, and use their bullies to intimidate us.
Under an apparent legality they maintain their dominion over the land. They hold idle lands under a de facto regime, evade their taxes, are the real destabilizers and those who provoke the extreme measures to which we peasants are forced in order to win our right to use of the land.
Our decision is to contribute to the creation of a new agrarian policy. This should include new agrarian legislation which facilitates the assignment of lands and solution of the land conflicts; which permits identification of idle lands that do not produce sufficiently; which orders a new census; which regulates the amount of land that the plantations can contain; which opens a land bank, taking account of those that are idle, state-owned or misused; which reorganizes and unifies the institutions that lead us from one side to the other and never resolve our problems; which grants participation in these to the peasant organizations, to thereby democratize agrarian policies; and which provides technical and financial assistance to the small and medium producers.
As urgent measures we ask that titles be granted for the lands where share-croppers still live, who have repaid their value for generations, as well as granting title to the communal lands of indigenous communities accredited by deeds or by custom.
SECOND: We demand a negotiated solution, with the impartial intervention of the government, of the cases which we peasants have put forward.
We demand that evictions from lands under contest be suspended, and that our comrades and brothers jailed in San Raymundo, in Guatemala province, be freed.
While the problem of land does not reach a democratic solution, which is to say taking into account our opinions and interests, while it is through repression with a legal face that is used against us, we will be forced to resort to all forms of demand, of pressure and of struggle. Because what we cannot renounce are our economic and social rights, we cannot renounce the right to life given by our Mother Nature.
THIRD: For this reason we demand the prompt achievement of an accord on the agrarian situation at the negotiating table between the Government of Guatemala and the URNG, which permits in a permanent way a more structural solution.
FOURTH: With better access to the land, with better technical and financial assistance, rural development will benefit other sectors; the internal market, exports, and agro-industry will expand; new infrastructure and services will be created; and the social conditions of our community will improve. That is to say that in proposing to resolve the agrarian problem which is the root of other national problems, we are not thinking only of ourselves, the peasants, but also of all our Guatemalan brothers and sisters.
FIFTH: It is not possible for a family to live in the countryside or in any part of Guatemala on Q 15.5 ($US 2.60) daily, this amount is less than the three quetzales of 20 years ago, if we take into account the economic measures that the government is imposing on us. We are asking it to revise the legal minimum wage, which was set in November 1995 by the previous government, and that it be set for the coming harvests of 1996 and 1997.
But even less tolerable is that they are continuing not to pay the legal minimum wage on some plantations, and that indigenous persons, children and women are discriminated against by robbing them of part of this miserable legal wage.
Many of the conflicts that are seen today are due to a failure to comply with the labour and salary laws, such as is the case of the workers of the "Los Cerritos" plantation in San Marcos who have stirred the country, and have forced our brothers and sisters to de facto measures in order to be heard.
The Fifth National Assembly expresses its solidarity with and support for Monsenor Alvaro Ramazzini, Bishop of San Marcos, for the just, humanitarian and Christian support that he has given to our peasant comrades of the Los Cerritos plantation; we also feel the accusations, defamations and threats of the landowners. We understand this situation very well, because of which we appreciate and recognize his righteous valour, because since our founding we have been the object of persecution for similar causes.
SIXTH: Finally CUC, as we have done since our founding, will promote participation in the decisions of our communities and towns, because that is the way to practice democracy, together with other organizations which exist in our settlements. Our objective is to contribute together to strengthening the participation of the civil population, to end once and for all the existence of the PAC and obligatory military recruitment, and to seek other forms of service to the community.
Looking back we view with satisfaction that the sacrifices and blood of our brother and sister founders continue to produce their fruits in new advances of our people. We have been able to mature our ideas and our participation, and we prepare ourselves to continue struggling, working, organizing ourselves and supporting one another, all the workers of the countryside and the city.
FOR THE RIGHT TO LAND,
JUST WAGES, SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
AND REAL PARTICIPATION IN DECISIONMAKING
AT THE LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEVEL
FIFTH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Guatemala, April 15, 1996