California Speaking Tour 2018

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2018 California speaking tour event. Photo taken by Brad Machado.

In February 2018, Friends of the ATC returned to Northern California to complete its 3rd speaking tour in the Northern California, United States. Representing the ATC on this speaking tour were agroecologists Marlen Sanchez and Dionys Melgara, both part of the National Political Pedagogical Commission of La Via Campesina in Nicaragua.

Friends of the ATC organizes speaking tours to share the experiences of social movement organizations like the ATC of Nicaragua in order to strengthen solidarity between the peoples of Nicaragua and the United States and between grassroots organizations around the world.

One important focus of this speaking tour was to alert the solidarity community to the danger of the passage of the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA Act) in the US Congress. This act would require the United States to vote against any requests made by the Nicaraguan government to obtain loans from international lending institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and Inter-American Development Bank. Nicaragua has been able to implement important social programs due to its ability to access international credit, and cutting off its access to loans would present a major challenge to the government and Nicaraguan people. The ATC, as a national organization representing rural workers and peasants, opposes the NICA Act and calls upon all of the Friends of the ATC in the United States to organize against the passage of this act. More information can be found about the NICA Act in English on the Nicaragua Network blog or in Spanish in an interview by the national radio station Radio Bilingue with the ATC’s Marlen Sanchez (interview with Marlen begins at 37:08).

2018 California speaking tour event. Photo taken by Brad Machado.

Another exciting story that was shared on the tour was the creation of IALAs, or Latin American Institutes of Agroecology, schools of technical, political and ideological training for young cadre of La Via Campesina located throughout the continent. The first IALA was founded in 2006 in Barinas, Venezuela (IALA Paolo Freire) and now there are IALAs in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia and Nicaragua. IALAs are a fundamental process of La Via Campesina to struggle against the cooptation of agroecology, which wants to reduce agroecology to a set of techniques that can be bought by transnational corporations and NGOs. Agroecology is a way of life, a political and social struggle, and part of the IALA project is the formation of cadre with values for the transformation of society.

An important part of the speaking tour was the chance for Marlen and Dionys to meet with ally organizations to share experiences of organizing. There were exchanges with representatives from the committee that organized for the liberation of the Cuba 5, the organizing of indigenous immigrants in California, agroecological training, and Latin American solidarity. These exchanges were important to strengthen knowledge of our various movements and to unite and collaborate for change.

Both the Friends of the ATC and the ATC would like to send its gratitude to all of our comrades in California who helped to organize the speaking tour. We saw old friends and made hundreds of new ones, and deepened our analysis of how to organize for solidarity with social movements.

2018 California speaking tour event. Photo taken by Bill Hackwell.

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