Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mexico Small Farmer Organizations Have Falling Out with One Another While Meeting with Government

Milenio: Elia Castillo, Lorena Lopez and Alejandro Madrigal

Members of the National Union of Agricultural Workers and Campesinos [traditional small farmers] [UNTA] and the Broad Campesino Front [FAC] left the dialogue table with the Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB] because they objected that the National Council of Rural and Fisheries Organizations [Conor], the National Council of Campesino Organizations [Conoc] and the National Campesino Confederacy had been invited to the meeting to discuss a rural development plan.

FAC left the  meeting citing the presence of organizations of a "certain type" and the lack of will on the part of the government.

Meanwhile, Max Correa, leader of the Permanent Agrarian Congress, remained in the meeting with the Secretariat, as did the leaders of Conoc and Conor. They were meeting with Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Secretary of Government Relations, in which they agreed that "the pact on rural Mexico is going forward."

Regarding the exit of the representatives of UNTA and FAC, Correa said:
"They opposed the format designed for today. We respect their decision and agree with them in essence, that is, strategic planning to form a rural pact to reform the countryside."
After leaving the meeting with the Secretary of Government Relations, members of UNTA tore  down fences that protect the streets General Prim and Abraham González, in the Colonia Juárez, with the intention of demonstrating at the main entrance of the Secretariat. This caused a confrontation that lasted 20 minutes and left six federal police officers injured. Meanwhile, the farmers' representatives charged that 19 of their members were injured, "attacked" by the Federal Police.

The police commander [who identified himself as] Spartacus, a negotiator for the police, tried to reach an agreement with some members of the UNTA, but he was ignored and they continued to beat at the police with sticks and stones. The same happened at the intersections of Abraham González and Athens Streets, General Prim and Versailles, and Emilio Dondé with Bucareli Street.

Spartacus located the UNTA leader from the state of Coahuila, José Luis López Cepeda, and warned him:
"You all are inciting them; I hold you responsible for all damages. We aren't hitting you. If something happens, you are responsible."
Despite the dialogue, UNTA continued its attacks on the police, after which they were allowed to send a committee into Secretariat offices.

Later, in a press conference, José Narro Céspedes, a member of the FAC, said:
"Last week the Secretariat of Government Relations had determined that we were the ones who were going to speak and the format was set. They (the Secretariat) decided unilaterally, without consulting us, to invite other players whom they had already publicly said would not attend."
Nevertheless, Alfonso Ramírez Cuellar, of FAC, said that on Monday they will resume the dialogue with the Secretariat, "it's restored; today was a rehearsal of dialogue."

After a meeting between the leaders, they agreed to withdraw from the encampment that they intended to install in the streets around the Secretariat and wait for next Monday's dialogue.

In turn, Osorio Chong said it is necessary to conclude an agreement for the countryside, to redesign it with all campesino organizations, as
"there can be no transformation of the country if the same isn't done in the countryside. This is not to see who is stronger, but how we can do more together," the Secretary said.
Spanish original