Voices of IALA Ixim Ulew: Adnerys Sanchez, Dominican Republic

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Friends of the ATC is launching the Ben Linder Scholarship fund to provide scholarships to amplify the work of the ATC and give more internationalists the opportunity to experience revolutionary Nicaragua. Funds will support the upcoming cohort of students at the Latin American Institute of Agroecology or IALA, as well as bring future internationalists to Nicaragua to participate in one of Friends of the ATC’s delegations. Your donation will directly support the transformative education for young peasants at IALA and increase opportunities for those who need financial support to travel to Nicaragua.

Located in the Chontales department of Nicaragua, IALA (Latin American Institute of Agroecology) Ixim Ulew (Maya K’iche for ‘Land of Corn’) is one of global peasant movement La Via Campesina’s eight agroecology schools located throughout the hemisphere. IALAs are guided by Paulo Freire’s model of popular education where both students and teachers are immersed within an environment that reifies the idea that everyone has something to teach and learn.

The first IALA school was founded in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 2006, based upon an agreement between La Via Campesina and President Hugo Chavez Frias focused on rejecting the capitalist, dominant model of industrial agriculture and constructing instead a food system based on equity and traditional knowledge.

Since the first IALA in Venezuela, La Via Campesina has gone one to build other IALAs throughout the continent. IALA Ixim Ulew was established in Nicaragua in 2018 and has since grown extensively, currently hosting its second cohort of students on 220 acres of land for young peasants to directly learn from. The Nicaraguan government has backed this initiative by ensuring that students who graduate from the school receive an accredited degree by INATEC (the National Technological Institute).

IALAs highlight the “campesino a campesino” method — an extensive knowledge network that spreads sustainable agricultural practices through exchanges with farmers in the territories. IALA students come together from peasant organizations across Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico to share and learn about the ways in which contemporary struggle and food sovereignty go hand in hand, with the ultimate goal of returning home and putting into practice what they have learned and experienced. What makes IALA so particular is its incorporation of hands-on farming techniques alongside classroom lectures surrounding political theory. This unique curriculum is focused on training young people to become social movement militants who can combat neoliberalism and imperialism, and build food sovereignty.

The Ben Linder Solidarity Fundraiser aims to raise $5,000 to support students at the IALA Ixim Ulew as well as scholarships for young people, farmers, people of color, and working-class people to join Friends of the ATC delegations and visit sites of revolutionary peasant organizing. IALA has hosted many Friends of the ATC delegations to offer hands-on experience with agroecological practices and as a space for political training.

Adnerys Sanchez, an urban farmer from the Dominican Republic and a member of the Mamá Tingo Socio-Political Women’s Organization, shares her experiences as a student at IALA Ixim Ulew.

I became familiar with IALA through friends and comrades in the struggle of the same organization to which I belong. They were graduates of the first cohort of IALA; through them and their experiences I was able to discover what IALA was. 

The topic that I have studied here and that I consider relevant to my organization is the theme of popular peasant feminism, because I understand the realities of women within the Dominican Republic. We are a women’s only organization and we only work with women from the city.

We do not have a rural women’s membership. For me it is important to be able to take all these issues learned from feminism, agroecology, food sovereignty and share them with my country and, above all, with my organization.

My personal expectations are to continue learning. Knowledge is limitless. Every day we learn something new and I understand that within my political training I need to learn many more things, especially in the social area.”

Support peasant training at IALA for students like Adnerys – DONATE to the scholarship fund!

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