Students and Workers Occupy Agroecology University: Statement from the Occupiers

Student and workers are currently engaged in an occupation at the Latin American Agroecology Institute, Barinas, demanding the removal of the institute's Directive Council. The students and workers have taken on the daily running of the institute, whilst preventing the Council from entering. This is an official statement from the occupation.

By Latin American Institute of Agroecology
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Urgent: Situation at the Latin American Institute of Agroecology (IALA)

The Latin American Institute of Agroecology (IALA) – Paulo Freire is a university formed in the heat of the Bolivarian Revolution and the processes of struggle carried out by the Latin American social movements organized within La Via Campesina Internacional. Tasked with making university-level education available to campesinos, indigenous peoples, and afro-descendents, IALA’s founding charter was signed in the rural town of Tapes, Brasil, in 2005. In a land reform settlement of rural Brazil, Comandante Hugo Chavez and La Via Campesina International signed the protocol agreement to create our institute. Soon after, the pilot institute was established in the municipality of Alberto Arvelo Torrealba, state of Barinas, Venezuela.

In the year 2006 academic and political activities began. Since that time, an integral and liberation-based way of educating ourselves, and of educating others, filled with a militant vision of compromise with our surroundings, has been undertaken. Our focus: The strengthening of People’s Power through a popular-transformative education.

IALA was formally legalized in 2008 and since then the Directive Council put into place began to demonstrate an incompatibility with the political-pedagogical dynamic that had begun two years earlier. The failure to recognize and the disrespect towards collective efforts at constructing IALA, the disqualification of popular/collective decision-making bodies such as our Political-Pedagogical Coordination (CPP) and General Coordination (which represents the entire student body, workers, professors, and the Directive Council), the unjust and excluding treatment of workers at the institute, and the bureaucratization of efforts are just a few of the factors that have been creating contradictions within our university.

The already unbearable situation exploded after a 27 October 2011 protest organized by the workers, which was supported by a majority of the student body, led to the closing of the university’s main entrance and impeding the entrance to IALA of the members of the Directive Council. On Sunday 30 October, meeting in General Assembly (workers, Political-Pedagogical Coordination, and student body) the decision was taken to demand the immediate removal of IALA’s Directive Council.

The struggle continues in a true climate of People’s Power as the doors to our institute continue closed to the Directive Council. The organized community of IALA has begun to collectively take on the daily tasks of running the institute and is doing so in a way that is consistent with the real and concrete historical exercise of the struggle for emancipation.

The proposal we are advancing thus far includes the creation of a collective leadership to help with the transition and guide the discussions underway regarding the rescuing and rebirth of IALA. This collective body will be made up of the workers, students, and Political-Pedagogical Coordination (CPP), with an emphasis on the two Venezuelan member organizations present within IALA, the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ) and the National Agrarian Coordinator Ezequiel Zamora (CANEZ).

 We call out to all institutions and social organizations that believe in and maintain a relationship with this project of popular and emancipatory education, and we invite them to come to our institution so as to understand the current reality we have undertaken and take on with us the solution to the internal conflict we are facing.

 For a Socialist Homeland!

We Will Live and We Will Win!

Until Victory Always!

Comisión of La Via Campesina – IALA Paulo Freire

Translated by IALA Translation Team