Monday, January 28, 2013

FARC proposals for land reform

Last week the FARC unveiled their ten-point proposal for land reform, as part of the ongoing peace talks with the government.  The document isn't really that well organized rhetorically or logically--the first point basically covers the subsequent points, and each point has so many components that it's hard to summarize point by point.  That said, most of the measures called for are common-sense, sound ideas that would do a lot to improve life in Colombia.  Obviously some of the measures are more difficult to implement than others, in part because no one knows exactly how to do things like "overcome the underlying conditions of the armed conflict" or erradicate poverty and inequality.  In general it is a very reasonable, not very radical or dogmatic proposal, as befits what is essentially a peasant guerrilla movement (as opposed to the grand Marxist revolutionary image everyone has of the FARC).

That preface aside, here is my attempt to summarize the ten points of the FARC proposal, for my non-Spanish-speaking readers:

1--The implementation of an integral agrarian reform that mentions the other nine points, in addition to a few more aspects, such as overcoming the conditions that underlie the armed conflict, a fundamental change in power relations in rural areas, redistribution of unproductive latifundia, specific laws to prevent land speculation and landgrabbing, restitution of land to displaced people and future protection of peasants' land, and investment in rural infrastructure and irrigation.

2--Erradication of hunger, poverty, and inequality in the rural areas, through improved provision of services from the State in terms of nutrition, education, health, arts and culture, and job creation.

3--A new framework for State-rural and urban-rural relations, involving the demilitarization of rural areas, more say for rural dwellers in how their landscape and their resources are used, and legal measures for urban and rural planning.

4--Participatory rural planning to assure sustainable use of water and other resources, promote production of food instead of livestock ranching, and help small-scale miners and growers of illicit crops to adjust their activities to be in accord with nature and the relevant legislation.

5--Creation of a central land fund to gather land that is idle or has been confiscated, and distribute it to peasants who need land.  There would be strict limits to how much land one person can own, and a tax code that penalizes large landholdings and unproductive land use.

6--Recognition of and political, economic, and cultural autonomy for indigenous communities and AfroColombian communities.  They also propose the creation of interethnic zones, where peasants, AfroColombians, and indigenous communities overlap and coexist.

7--Recognition of peasants and their work, and creation of legal recognitions for peasant communities along the same lines as those accorded to indigenous or AfroColombian communities.

8--Promotion of national food sovereignty through the peasant production economy.  The FARC place special emphasis on the importance of strengthening marketing, credit, and transport channels to bring peasant products to urban consumers, and they are not explicitly against agroindustrial export crops, as long as these do not negatively impact Colombia's food supply.

9--Support to research, especially as regards peasant practice, traditional knowledge, and heritage seeds, all in order to create a technical and knowledge base to feed the country and promote rural development.

10--The revision of any international trade agreements that impinge on Colombia's food or resource sovereignty, and temporary economic compensation to farmers who have been damaged by such agreements

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