CARUARU Declaration, Brazil

International Land Coalition Regional Assembly of Members - Latin America and the Caribbean.
LAC Land Forum "Inclusive land and territorial governance in the face of climate change: the central role of organised civil society".
25-28 September 2017

We, 38 member organizations of the International Land Coalition (ILC) representing 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries, and under the kind hosting of Espacio Feminista, gathered in Brazil for our 11th Regional Assembly celebrated in Recife and the Latin America and the Caribbean Land Forum 2017 hosted in the municipality of Caruaru, under the theme of "Inclusive land and territorial governance in the face of climate change: the central role of organised civil society". After sharing experiences and discussing and reflecting on our work and the events taking place in our countries around land and territorial rights, we present the following Declaration:

In recent years, conflicts of access to, use of and control over land and territories have increased across the region, due to the expansion of agribusinesses, the tourism industry and large investments in mining, oil and gas, hydroelectric and forestry megaprojects in rural areas. Governments have ignored peasant and indigenous demands with regard to these issues, offering unsatisfactory answers, liberalizing land markets and highly increasing the risks of land concentration in the region. In face of this situation, we demand the implementation of policies directed to achieve people-centred land governance and the sustainable management of natural resources and common goods, in order to address marginality, poverty and land concentration in the hands of a few, and reaching the targets established by  the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Latin America and the Caribbean are severely affected by climate change, with temperature increase, glacier melting, soil degradation and biodiversity loss. The evidence shows higher frequency of larger and prolonged floods and droughts, which has very negative impacts on family farming and community production systems, notably affecting the lives of rural women. Therefore, we urge States to take the necessary measures to prevent and mitigate climate change impacts, to protect and preserve freshwater ecosystems, to reduce pollution by mining and other industries and monitoring deforestation, construction of dams and unplanned urbanization. We request the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the detailing of proposals to transform development models, with the aim of guaranteeing the true participation of regional Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendants, peasants, women and youth in all spaces and decision-making processes, ensuring the incorporation of their views and knowledge.

Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be the most unequal region on the planet. This situation primarily affects rural women and youth in their social, ethnic and cultural diversity. Social and economic inequality in the region stems from an economic system that favours capital gains over human rights and ecosystems. This is reinforced by gender-based violence caused by a hegemonic patriarch system limiting the rights of women and youth to land and territories. We require States the design and implementation of land and territorial governance policies and programmes, with active participation of women and youth, and taking into consideration their ways of life and conceptions of development.

In our countries persist a constant violation of international standards and treaties on human rights. Currently, killings of male and female leaders are mostly perpetrated in Brazil, Colombia and Honduras. The increase in violence evidences unequal power structures and institutional systems that offer protection to higher economic sectors with major political and judicial influence. Therefore, we demand to secure protection for male and female leaders and a stop to their criminalization, as well as to investigate those perpetrating the crimes to cease their impunity, while safeguarding the right to consultation and the 169 ILO Convention on free and informed consent.

Indigenous, peasant and Afro-descendant communities live under the pressure of mining, illegal timber activities and illicit crop production, which force them to move and abandon territories and resources. There is grave concern about the conflicts taking place in territories of isolated indigenous communities. The recent assassination of ten indigenous people, known as “flecheiros”,  in Vale do Javari  in Brazil is a case in point. Furthermore, it worries the situation of vulnerability and risk faced by the population of Laguna Larga in San Andres Peten, in the Guatemalan department of Peten, who were forced to abandon its community land under threat of imminent eviction. These two extreme cases are examples of dozens of other situations taking place across the region. Thus, we urge States to fulfil their obligation to protect life, and to guarantee safety and permanence of peasants and Indigenous Peoples in their territories. We call upon States, and regarding several cases in the region, to comply with the precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Some of the countries in the region live today an evident governability crisis. Corruption, authoritarianism, violence and drug trafficking are weakening the democratic principles and the rule of law, and mostly impacting on those living under greatest poverty and vulnerability conditions. In this context, we demand politicians, institutions, organizations and citizenry in the entire region to unavoidably commit to democracy, truth and justice, while respecting the established institutional channels and the people´s will.

We have further learnt, during the ILC LAC Regional Assembly of Members in Recife and the LAC Land Forum in Caruaru, of rural problems, rural sectors and social organizations within Brazil. In this regard, we support the struggle and resistance of organizations and social movements, in all its diversity, against the severe political setbacks and the loss of rights they currently face.

The ILC LAC platform reaffirms its commitment to continue working, with a more integrated and articulated regional perspective, towards achieving people-centred land governance, and to support defence mechanisms for land and territorial rights.

Finally, we express our solidarity to the Peoples of Mexico and the Caribbean in these extremely painful moments of human and material losses caused by recent natural disasters. We urge States to expedite assistance and reconstruction of the devastated areas.

Caruaru, September 28, 2017