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Martínez Mejía, who works at the REDES foundation, highlights in an interview with ContraPunto the benefits that food sovereignty and the solidarity economy have for families and how this improves the quality of life of those who practice it.
Currently in El Salvador there is no legal instrument that guarantees food sovereignty. From 2006 to date, more than 11 bills have reached the Legislative Assembly but have not been studied; In 2012, the Assembly approved the reform of the Constitution to include in Article 69 the right to water and adequate food for the population, but ratification was not achieved, as there was no agreement between the deputies.
What is Food Sovereignty?
Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to define their own agricultural and food policies, where the peasantry is the center of the agri-food system and not the transnational agribusiness companies, where food is seen as a human right and not as a commodity. For the food sovereignty approach, it is not only important that there is enough food, but it is also important how, who and where that food is produced. When communities and territories, in gender equality, manage to control productive resources such as water, land and seeds, then there will be food sovereignty and food justice.
What is the solidarity economy?
The solidarity economy is the antithesis of the capitalist economy, it seeks to break the relations of capital-labor domination. It seeks the satisfaction of individual, material and spiritual needs, but also social needs. It is based on relationships of solidarity, reciprocity, mutual support, and the organization and self-management of work. It seeks to create a collective and supportive conscience, no longer individualistic or competitive.
The solidarity economy is practiced in all areas of the economic process, in production, circulation (fair trade, solidarity value chains), in consumption and in the financial sphere (ethical finance and alternative finance). It can take the form of communitarianism, cooperation, fair trade, local currencies, responsible consumption, etc.
In the words of the Salvadoran economist Aquiles Montoya, the solidarity economy is the foundation of the solidarity society, because it seeks to change the entire system, not only the economic structure, but also the political, cultural, legal, media structures, etc. And for this, the construction of popular power relations is necessary, from below and from within society, to confront bourgeois power relations.
Is there a relationship between the two?
Completely. For there to be food sovereignty, there must be a solidarity economy. One cannot be separated without the other. One of the principles of food sovereignty is the promotion of local markets, so that the production of small farmers does not go to large industry and commerce, it is necessary to bring producers and consumers closer together and that they are the communities the beneficiaries and not the commercial transnationals. It is important to achieve food sovereignty to bet on a solidarity and alternative economy, since 90% of the world food trade is concentrated by large agribusiness transnationals, that is why it is necessary to create alternative economic networks to produce, distribute and consume food.
Large supermarkets waste food in enormous quantities, according to the FAO, around the planet 300 million tons of food are wasted every year. That is why it is necessary to strengthen family farming and local markets. That is why it becomes necessary to demand regulatory frameworks that promote a solidarity economy, in order to achieve food sovereignty and satisfaction of the right to food in the countries.
Who and how do they benefit?
To the popular majorities, to the working class in a broad sense, to the peasantry, to women, in short, to those excluded from the capitalist system. How? In REDES for example, we have had several experiences such as the creation of solidarity economic networks, alternative solidarity markets, use of vouchers for purchase and sale such as UDIS (Suchitotense Solidarity Exchange Unit), communal banks and savings groups, solidarity production in based on agroecology and permaculture, among others. These experiences have contributed to satisfying the material needs of those who participate, they have generated economic autonomy in women, but they have also contributed to satisfying spiritual and social needs such as feeling part of a collective and being able to participate in decisions to improve their communities and environments.
REDES accompanies producers from seven municipalities: Suchitoto, Perulapía, Monte San Juan, San Sebastián, San Lorenzo, San José Villanueva and in Berlin and Alegría.
Is the solidarity economy a viable alternative or a model that can be followed by the authorities to improve the direction of the Salvadoran economy?
I believe that it is possible to think beyond capital and the dominant economy, solidarity economy is an empirical and theoretical reality in many countries of the world, new forms of economic, political and cultural relations are being woven, based on self-managed organization. It seeks to generate the germs of a new system. Completely change the economic, political, cultural, legal system, etc.
The alternative experiences to capitalism throughout history have shown that society cannot be changed by taking power "from above", but that it is necessary to build "from below". Below are the bases, what is built "above" must respond and obey the needs and proposals that are built within the people. The State must create regulations in favor of the solidarity economy and food sovereignty, promote intra and intersectoral articulation of solidarity companies, support alternative popular media, etc. The truth is that, as Marx would say "From the bowels of the old society the new will be born", but it will not be deterministic, but rather it will depend on our level of liberation praxis.
The solidarity economy and food sovereignty are proposals for life. They constitute another practice and another discursiveness in the face of the global hegemony of capital.
By Gloria Marisela Morán
Seen in ALAINET http://www.alainet.org