On September 4th, after ten days of widespread street protests against the biotech giant Monsanto’s expansion into Guatemalan territory, groups of indigenous people joined by social movements, trade unions and farmer and women’s organizations won a #victory when congress finally repealed the legislation that had been approved in June.
The demonstrations were concentrated outside the Congress and Constitutional Court in #Guatemala City during more than a week, and coincided with several #Mayan communities and organizations defending #food sovereignty through court injunctions in order to stop the Congress and the President, Otto Perez Molina, from letting the new law on protection of plant varieties, known as the “Monsanto Law”, take effect. “Corn taught us Mayan people about community life and its diversity, because when one cultivates corn one realizes that there is a variety of crops such as herbs and medical plants depending on the corn plant as well. We see that in this coexistence the #corn is not selfish, the corn shows us how to resist and how to relate with the surrounding world.” The #Monsanto Law would have given exclusivity on patented seeds to a handful of transnational companies. Mayan people and social organizations claimed that the new law violated the Constitution and the Mayan people’s right to traditional cultivation of their land in their ancestral territories. The new legislation would have opened up the market for genetically modified seeds which would have threatened to displace natural seeds and end their diversity.
There was a great risk that the Monsanto Law would have made criminals of already repressed small farmers who are just trying to make ends meet and doing what they have done for generations – cultivating corn and black beans for their own consumption. The Monsanto Law meant that they would not have been able to grow and harvest anything that originates from #natural seeds.
Currently international companies are very interested in gaining control of the abundant and rich natural assets that Guatemala possesses. There is just one problem: the Mayan people – or actually most people – in Guatemala.
#The Global Movement