Jesús León Santos - Speech at the 2008 Goldman Prize Ceremony

Jesús León Santos
April 14, 2008
The members of the Center for Natural Small Farmer Development of
the Mixteca would like to thank, in the name of the indigenous peoples and
campesinos of Oaxaca, the Goldman family for honoring our struggle for the
recuperation of the environment and culture of our peoples.
25 years ago we in the Upper Mixteca recognized that we were living through a
severe ecologic crisis that was creating poverty, malnutrition and migration.
Today we have to recognize that all the inhabitants of this planet are living in a
similar crisis.
We recognize that indigenous peoples have historically been the creators and
guardians of biological and genetic wealth, holding sacred our native seeds of
wheat, beans, and tomatoes, that have enriched the entire world’s food culture.
We recognize that we must now reclaim this important role for the good of
To take on this responsibility, we have to confront various economic and
political challenges.
The opening of markets through free trade agreements has provoked low prices
for our products and the disappearance of government support to the
This policy brought about an immeasurable increase in the cost of production,
leading to a rural poverty that has led to massive migration and threatens to
make our indigenous peoples and campesinos disappear.
In the same way, the introduction of modified seeds and other methods of
controlling seed distribution, and the control of agricultural and food markets of
the world threaten this genetic wealth that we indigenous peoples care for as
the world’s heritage.
We at CEDICAM hope that this respect for Mother Earth that we are
recuperating among indigenous peoples can serve as an example to all of the
inhabitants of the planet in this time of environmental crisis.
We also hope that the struggle our Mixteca people have endured with their
sweat and commitment can give us all the confidence that with our strength, this
Earth will have the capacity to recuperate and continue to give life to all of its
inhabitants today and in future generations.


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