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Rage One (blog)

martes, mayo 15, 2007

Press Release: South Central Farmers at the UN

South Central Farmers' Delegation Heads to The United Nations

South Central Farmers have been invited to attend the Sixth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, on May 14-25, 2007 at the United Nations (UN) in New York.

South Central Los Angeles, CA May 14, 2007, as the anniversary of the eviction and destruction of the South Central Farm (previously located at 41st and Long Beach Ave) approaches a delegation from the South Central Farmers heads to New York City to participate in the Sixth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN.

For fourteen years, the 14-acre South Central Farm (SCF) was the largest and most biologically-diverse urban farm in the United States. The farm was established in 1992 at a site located in an industrial warehouse zone of South Central Los Angeles. After a three-year campaign to save the farm, the Farmers were evicted and the crops bulldozed in June 2006. The Farm had 360 individual family plots cultivated by a culturally-diverse community that includes members of indigenous Mixtec, Nahua, Seri, Yaqui, and Zapotec peoples among many others.

Each plot comprised an impressive collection of diverse native crops sown from heirloom seeds that have been kept and conserved by families for countless generations. A pilot study by a University of Washington anthropologist classified 37 different fruit and vegetable species according to their scientific, indigenous, and English names. The ethnobotanical species inventory provided descriptions of the nutritional and medicinal properties of these plants recognized by the cultivators at South Central Farm (please see Appendix 1). The study estimated that in June 2005 there were about 150 different plants cultivated at South Central including multiple varieties across fruits, vegetables, herbs, cacti, and culturally significant trees (e.g., Chorisia speciosa). The study concluded that the SCF was a significant site for the conservation of the genetic diversity of the crops associated with the Mesoamerican "Vavilov Center," one of the world's great centers involved in the original domestication of wild plants for food. Maize (corn), bean, squash, chile, avocado, chayote, guayaba, guava, peach, plum, lime, chipilin, mango, banana, and cactus were among the dozens of native heirloom fruit and vegetable crops cultivated at the SCF. The study concluded that crop biodiversity was evident within horticultural varieties. For example, the Oaxacan green dent maize cultivated at the South Central Farm includes 8 to 10 distinct alleles (genetic variants).

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is the only official body within the UN that addresses issues exclusive to Indigenous people. Josefina Medina and Rufina Juarez will be part of this delegation and as representatives, they have been appointed to speak on behalf of the struggle of the SCF. "Our primary role is to denounce the injustice and suffering that was imposed on the SCF, families, women and children, as geographically displaced indigenous peoples, by the City of Los Angeles and the same LAPD that rioted on the poor people of Los Angeles on May 1st 2007", stated Rufina Juarez, elected representative of the South Central Farmers. They will present a three minute statement to the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Peoples.

"Our written statement will be submitted to the Permanent Forum and will be recorded and analyzed by the members and included for policy recommendations to the appropriate UN agencies after the Forum has ended. These agencies have mandates to address, prevent and intervene in human rights abuses to all people, but this forum mandates them to give special attention to issues affecting Indigenous People.", commented Rufina Juarez

"Our secondary role is to network among indigenous peoples throughout the world who are struggling for "land and natural resources" and who identify themselves as "geographically displaced indigenous peoples" (the themes of this years Forum). We expect to learn a lot about our struggle and be able to reframe it within an international perspective and in comparison to other indigenous struggles worldwide!", stated Josefina Medina, South Central Farmer.

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