The Monte Carmelo Declaration

May 5, 2013

The First International Congress of the Guardians of Seeds,
October 26-29, 2012
Monte Carmelo, Sanare, Lara, Venezuela

[Translated from Spanish by Quincy Saul and Salvatore Engel-DiMauro of Ecosocialist Horizons at the request and on behalf of our Bolivarian comrades. We believe that this is a historic text and a beautiful articulation of ecosocialism, which will resonate globally in the years to come, and are thus very honored to present here its first translation into English.]

More than 300 people, belonging to 100 organizations, representing sisters and brothers from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, gathered from the 26th to the 29th of October of 2012, in Monte Carmelo (Lara State) for the First International Congress of the Guardians of Seeds, and for the seventh celebration of the National Day of Farmers’ Seeds. Together we declare that:

We understand that the common seeds of farmers and indigenous peoples carry thousands of years of knowledge, identity and culture, and can form the basis for a politics and economics of true independence.

We believe that the current treatment of our native seeds is evidence that we continue to live under an economic model that is insatiable, commercializing and merciless.

In the case of Venezuela we have an immense challenge: to liberate ourselves in the feeling that agroecology is the path for true emancipation in the context of a rentier petroleum economy that continues to commodify nature with its extractive practices. We recognize that the transformation of this model will come charged with tensions and contradictions, and we therefore understand the necessity of beginning as soon as possible. It is urgent and inevitable, and it is in this context that we invite the country to adopt the seeds of farmers and indigenous peoples as the foundation for the construction of Ecosocialism, through the recovery of our ancestral practices of production, conservation and reproduction of seeds.

We recognize that the seeds of farmers and indigenous peoples are the patrimony of humanity and we believe that they should be in the hands of the people that care for them, and not in the fists of a few corporations that modify and alter them for their private benefit. To the use of agrochemicals and genetically modified crops we say “NO!” We promote the use of good seeds, with their cultivation and associated knowledges.

There is a sacred bond between the food and the medicines that we consume and the seeds which generate them. This bond is hidden behind curtains drawn by the logic of capital. The Guardians of Seeds have taken up the challenge of lifting the veil which covers this sacred and ancestral bond. We want to open the window, to show the potential horizons which draw themselves when we take a more conscious, proactive, ethical, and empowering role in the process of generating and using these products.

We believe that it falls to the People-as-Teacher to lead this process of the re-foundation of the economic model. We begin with the experience of the people, whose life and example show us that the only people who know well are those who act well, and therefore we propose to collectively overcome the idea that knowledge is born in universities and in institutions.

We believe that Nature-as-Teacher is the most lucid, cutting edge and living school to which we can turn to awake our consciences. We recognize indigenous peoples, small farmers and agro-ecological warriors as its most attentive interpreters, and we believe that they are the leaders who can orient us in our path towards post-capitalism.

We take on the commitment of planting in people, communities, collectives, schools, universities and workplaces the importance of the seed as a tool of liberation. The strategies to put this commitment into practice should be consonant with the ethical principles of Ecosocialism: respecting the diversity of local contexts, the dynamics of each community, and recognizing the power of the wisdom that inhabits them. We believe that only thus can we establish true horizontal networks to consolidate a communal, sustainable economic system and a Living School of Popular Culture.

Our proposals are oriented around four fundamental axes:
1)Seed production, conservation, and reproduction
2)Legislation and public policies
3)Research and education
4)Communication

1. Seed Production, Conservation and Reproduction

We demand the preservation of the seeds, water systems, and culture of indigenous peoples and small farmers as guarantors of agricultural biodiversity

We promote seed exchanges by farmers and indigenous peoples, and discussions about the necessity of conserving and reproducing seeds. These can permit a revalorization of the enormous diversity of plants for food and other uses, according to their forms, colors, smells and tastes, and with this, a revalorization of the traditional foods of each region, inspiring food sovereignty, autonomy and the self-management of health.

We declare ourselves in permanent resistance against the Group of 8: Capitalism, Imperialism, Large Estates, Monoculture, Agrochemicals, Genetically Modified Organisms, Gospels for Empire and Wars.

We will develop Trueke [bartering] for seasonal seeds. These will be animated by the already-existing bartering systems, with the goal of incorporating ever more collectives, guardians and communities.

We commit ourselves to inspiring and carrying out local, regional, national and international congresses, with the goal of consolidating new spaces in defense of the seeds of indigenous peoples and farmers, as the basis of life on the planet.

We practice self-government for the management of seeds and maintain them in the hands of Popular Power and the communal small farmer economy.

We commit ourselves to planting the seeds of farmers and indigenous peoples in the productive spaces that we have recovered from landlords.

We promote the organization of nurseries (communal, socialist, farmer) for the seeds and practices of indigenous peoples and farmers, in spaces of Popular Power.

We will deepen the articulation between the networks of living seeds and the communal economic system.

2. Legislation and Public Policies

In 2004 the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela proclaimed its anti-imperialist character, and in 2006 it assumed its socialist character. We therefore affirm that in 2012, with the 2013-2019 National Plan, the Bolivarian Revolution will assume an ecological character, with the incorporation of this new, fifth historic objective, which traverses the four previous ones. In the framework of this historic objective, we propose a fifth national objective not contemplated in those already proposed: “to recognize and respect the rights of mother earth, as the basis of buen vivir, to overcome capitalism and the dominant model of civilization.” And as strategic objectives within the same, to include article 5.5.1: “to protect and promote the seeds of farmers and indigenous peoples, and the knowledges and territories associated with them, as the patrimony of agricultural biodiversity, and the basis of an Ecosocialist economic model.” And 5.5.2: “To deepen the position of Venezuela as a country free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and to constitute itself in reference to Nuestra America [Our America].”

We demand participation in building the project of the Law of Seeds, Project of Regulation of the Law of Management of Biological Diversity, to clarify the legal manner of the historic commitment of Venezuela as a country free of GMOs, as a global example.

We inspire and invite the elaboration of municipal and communal ordinances for the protection of seeds and the prohibition of GMOs and toxic agricultural chemicals in the whole national territory.

We request the incorporation of the fundamental objectives of the National Strategy of Conservation of Biological Diversity 2010-2020 in the 2013-2019 National Plan, like the other contributions that we are making collectively, to be integrated before their endorsement by the National Assembly.

3. Research and Education

We promote the recovery and systematization of the knowledge of indigenous peoples and farmers, linked to agricultural practices and the conservation of life.

We encourage and will carry out investigations about the seeds that we plant, considering their diverse uses, from a participatory and emancipatory perspective, for the collective construction of skills and knowledges.

We call on the people to recuperate our memory of traditional food and medicine, and to elaborate manuals that will allow us to socialize this ancestral knowledge.

We request, as part of the changes to school curricula at all levels, that we also include knowledge of how to obtain, use, and conserve native seeds, in political and cultural context, based on practical work which will permit the direct knowledge that only experience provides. The importance of the seed as a living ancestral element should be emphasized, and motivate a sense of belonging between children and their seeds.

We urge the recognition of the small farmer school as a tool to transfer power to children inside of schools. These should be spaces of responsibility, where children show their capacity to be agents of politics, economics and agroecology.

We make a call to the All Hands to the Planting program, to fortify their linkages with the communities where it is being carried out, recognizing the knowledge of these communities, reclaiming especially the figure of grandmothers and grandfathers as messengers of indispensable popular knowledge for the sustainability of the program. We recommend that we seek out places of intersection between the policies of dignifying of elders and the policies of promoting agroecology for children.

We call for the inclusion of a great deal of didactic contents, in Canaima computers, about the seeds of farmers and indigenous peoples; how to obtain them, how to conserve them, and how to use them, along with information about their cultural, economic and political value. It is our intention that the content be developed with the participation of the People-as-Teacher.

We request that, as much as possible, the cafeterias of the School Food Program are supplied by the small farmer schools and by local communal production. We thus consider it of the utmost importance to adjust the menu to reflect local foods.

We demand that the knowledge of farmers be recognized as the fundamental base for agro-ecological university, and that a curriculum be designed for the relevant degrees, based on this recognition. From here on, we demand that the syllabi and the pedagogical strategies of the university departments of Environmental Management of the Bolivarian University of Venezuela, the Degree in Agroecology of the Venezuelan School of Planning, and the Degree in Agroecology at the Latin American Institute of Agroecology be revised, to guarantee that these programs put into practice the idea of the farmer university. It is common knowledge that despite these efforts, these studies drag with them vices of a pedagogy of domination.

4. Communication

We constitute ourselves as the “National Network of the Guardians of Seeds” of Venezuela, whose objective is to follow and give continuity to the plans and strategies of action put forward here, and to all initiatives that defend the free flow of seeds as the base of national independence. From this network we will join with other continental networks and with the global network, which we encounter already active in struggle for the defense of our common seeds.

We promote the design and execution of a widespread, large-scale communication campaign, to publish and circulate the emancipatory capacities of the seeds of farmers and indigenous peoples. This will include media at all levels, including unconventional media which can reach communities that do not use means of mass communication. This campaign should find forms of maintaining itself over time, as it does not respond to merely conjunctural questions. Through this we should make visible the connection of seeds to food, devolving upon the people the responsibility of the conscious producer-consumer [prosumidor].

We relate to the President of the Republic of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, our profound worry about the latent threat of the importation of GMOs into Ecuadorean territory, the only country in Latin America where the prohibition of GMOs has constitutional status.

We seek in this convocation the realization of the First Congress of the Planters of Water, at an international level, suggesting that it be realized in the brother country of Uruguay in the year of 2013, understanding that seeds can only be conserved in the context of the conservation of water, land and biological diversity.

We subscribe to the Declaration of the Congress of Free Seeds, realized in Peru in 2012, and we invite everyone to circulate it by all available media.

We join the campaign for Venezuela Free from GMOs (www.venezuelalibredetransgenicos.blogstpot.com)

We invite President Chavez to declare himself a Guardian of Seeds on the third of December, a National Day of Struggle against Agrochemicals, a day in which we will give our input to the National Plan.

We declare that Monte Carmelo is a LIVING SCHOOL OF FARMER’S SEEDS, and promote the empowerment of an Annual Gathering of the Guardians of Seeds.

Finally we declare that:

We forcefully repudiate the criminalization that our friends from Paraguay have suffered, who, for having graduated from the Latin American Institute for Agroecology of Paolo Freire (IALA), have been persecuted after returning to their country by a resurgence of the anti-campesino dictatorship.

We forcefully repudiate the persecution of the farmer guardians of the seeds and defenders of the collective territories, who have suffered in Colombia and in all the member countries of the Free Trade Agreement, as a direct consequence of the application of neoliberal policies in this treaty.

We forcefully repudiate the systematic assassination of farmer and indigenous leaders who have died at the hands of contracted executioners by landowners, who from 2001 to today have taken the lives of more than 270 people. Thus we denounce the criminalization of the reclamation of lands, and we demand the repeal of the trials which continue against more than 2500 farmers, for false offences of the invasion of “private property”.

We declare our solidarity with the struggle of the indigenous peoples of the Sierra de Perija, and we endorse the proposal for the self-demarcation of their ancestral territories, according to the principles of respect for the cosmovisions of the indigenous people, and with respect for the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic and its appended laws.

All hands to the planting, all the planting to school, and to our mouths, to promote and to inspire the sowing and the harvest of a new society, where the most important seeds are our children, girls and boys, the true nursery of the country, because we know that together with the seed, the history of Abya Yala (Nuestramerica), is unearthed; a living territory that connects us with a spiral which knows no borders!

We sign this in Monte Carmelo, on October 29th of 2012, until the next congress!

Local organizations:
Semillero Socialista de Monte Carmelo, Sistema de Trueke del Territorio Comunal “Argimiro Gabaldón”, Consejo Comunal de Monte Carmelo, Comuna María Teresa Angulo, Asociación de Productores de Monte Carmelo, Baquianos del Conocimiento de Monte Carmelo, Liceo Bolivariano Benita de Jesús García de Monte Carmelo, Cooperativa “La Alianza”, Consejo Campesino Mixto Agroproductivo Bolivariano “Palo Verde la Tigrera”, Consejo de protección del niño/a y adolescente del Municipio Andrés Eloy Blanco, Misión Robinson de Monte Carmelo, Radio Colibrí, Radio Sanareña, Colectivo de Jóvenes Socialistas Unidos para Avanzar, Misión Saber y Trabajo, Grupo Bandola y Folklor, Consejo Comunal Caspo Centro, Consejo Comunal de Yay, Alcaldía y Empresas Públicas Comunales Socialistas del Municipio Andrés Eloy Blanco,

National organizations:
Sistema de Trueke de Urachiche de Yaracuy, Sistema de Trueke Ticoporo de Barinas, Sistema de Trueke Kirikire de los Valles del Tuy de Miranda, Espacio Agroecológico “La Chiguira”, IALA (Instituto Universitario Latinoamericano de Agroecología ”Paulo Freire”), Movimiento Campesino Jirajara, Mercado Campesino-Comunal de Socopó, Espacio de Gestión Económica Comunal del Municipio Antonio José de Sucre, Gabinete Popular de Mujeres e igualdad de Género del Municipio Antonio José de Sucre, Consejo Comunal “El Polvero” del Municipio Rojas, Barinas, Frente de Productores Socialistas del Municipio Rojas, La Biofábrica del Buen Vivir, Sistema Nacional de las Culturas Populares de Lara, Consejo de Movimentos Sociales del ALBA, FRIDA (Frente Itinerante de Discusión Agroecológica), Colectivo Senderos, Colectivo Patios Productivos, Calendario Productivo Socio Cultural, Escuela Popular de Semillas, Programa Todas las Manos a la Siembra, Raíces de Venezuela de Puerto Ordaz, E. Bolívar, Oficina Nacional de la Diversidad Biológica (MPP Ambiente), C.N. Conservación de Recursos Fitogenéticos (MPP Ambiente), Feria de Semillas e Interculturalidad de Veroes, Yaracuy, EMS Leguminosas del Alba, Colectivo Cacique Tamanaco de la Zona rural de Caracas, Comunidad Hato Viejo de Río Claro, Colectivo Estudiantes del Agro (UCV Facultad de Agronomía) de Maracay, CVA Compañía de Mecanizado Agrícola y Transporte Pedro Camejo, Colectivo Agroecológico Tierra y Libertad (UBV, Caracas), Cooperativa Benbusa de San Cristóbal, Cooperativa Auka Dewan Napö, , Frente de Creadores Militantes, (INSAI) Instituto Nacional de Sanidad Agrícola Integral, INIA (Instituto Nacional de investigaciones Agrícolas), M.P.P. para las Comunas y la Protección Social, Unidad de la Defensa Pública del Estado Lara, EMS Leguminosas del Alba, U.E.N. Antonio María Chacón Pineda del Diamante, Municipio Junín, Estado Táchira, Ruta del Café de Táchira, Escuela Popular Agroecológica Ezequiel Zamora de Carabobo, Escuela Popular Agroecológica Ezequiel Zamora Los Aposentos de Trujillo, E.C.L (Ejército Comunicacional de Liberación), F.A.L.D.A.S. en Revolución, Colectivo Ciudadanía al alcance de niños, niñas y adolescentes de Táchira, Rescate de Papas Nativas de Gavidia, Estado Mérida, Colectivo Ambientalista Tercer Planeta, Colectivo Herencia Verde, Colectivo Cimarrón de Maracaibo, Estado Zulia, El canto de la Guacamaya, Escuela Agroecológica de Barlovento, Colectivo Raíces y Saberes (IVIC), INCES de Aragua, E.P.A. La Providencia del Estado Aragua, U.P.S.A. Pedro Pérez Delgado, U.B.V. (Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela), SENASEM (Servicio Nacional de Semillas), E.V.A.N. (Escuela Venezolana de Alinentación y Nutrición) del Instituto Nacional de Nutrición, UNAL – IVIC (Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas), ULA (Universidad de Los Andes) ICAE de Gavidia, Estado Mérida, Movimiento Sin Gravedad de Maracay, TEVES-SNMP (Televisora Venezolana Social), Revista Poder Vivir, SURCO Alba Ciudad 96.3, Lara TV

International organizations:
Vía Campesina de Brasil, Vía Campesina de Paraguay, MST (Movimiento de los Sin Tierra) de Brasil, CONAIE (Confederación Nacional de Indígenas del Ecuador) , Red de Guardianes de Semillas de Ecuador, Red de Guardianes de Semillas de vida de Colombia, Encuentro de Semillas de Uruguay, MPA (Movimiento de Pequeños
Agricultores) de Brasil, OCN (Organización Campesina del Norte) de Paraguay, ACIT (Asociación Indígena del Tolima) de Colombia, Grupo Semillas de Colombia, CODEPANAL (Comité de defensa del patrimonio nacional) de Bolivia, Organización Campesina de Misiones (Paraguay), Movimiento Campesino Paraguayo, Grupo Pedaluz de Colombia, Colectivo “Esa es la Voz” de Argentina,

Special support from:
Guardianes de Semillas de Argentina a través de la Cátedra Libre de Soberanía Alimentaria (Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires – Argentina)

To request or adhere to this declaration, please direct your mail to: truekesanare@gmail.com