In recent years in the context of a revolutionary upsurge taking place in Upper Volta, called Burkina Faso, new social strata are contributing to the widening and radicalization of the struggles of the revolutionary and democratic movement, which is shaking the neocolonial system in crisis and bankruptcy. In the massive struggles taking place in the country, particularly in those organized by the Coalition against the High Cost of Living, Fraud and Impunity and for freedoms, the small businesses, the informal sector in urban areas, the women and the peasantry are increasingly joining the demonstrations for their specific demands. Thus, in these generalized struggles the poor peasants, particularly those in the areas of export crops such as cotton, controlled by the multinationals and the local bourgeoisie, are launching manifold movements to express their legitimate demands. The Burkina Faso countryside is gradually becoming a focus of struggle.
How broad is the peasant movement in Burkina? What is its place and its role in the revolutionary process for national and social liberation? We point out some elements of these important issues at a time when the dissemination of the Agrarian Program of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta (PCRV) is being greeted enthusiastically by the revolutionary masses and the peasants of the country.
Let us first examine the characteristics of the peasantry in the neocolonial context.
Capitalism and neocolonialism are the source of the evils suffered by the poor peasants and agricultural workers
Upper Volta, called Burkina Faso, is a backward, agricultural neocolonial country, where feudal remnants persist; it is dominated by imperialism, particularly French imperialism, which relies on such reactionary social classes and strata as the political-bureaucratic bourgeoisie, the comprador bourgeoisie and the vestiges of the feudal forces. This fundamental characteristic of the country is reflected on the economic plane by the predominance of the agricultural sector. More than 85% of the population lives in rural areas. In the backward agricultural sector, subsistence economy predominates, but depends on the neocolonial policy of French imperialism and its local allies. Therefore, agriculture is largely oriented towards cash crop (cotton, peanuts, sugar cane, soybeans, etc.), it is not free from the fetters of the pre-capitalist economic forms subordinated to the needs of finance capital. This implies a dependency of the peasant economy under the yoke of merchant and usurious capital. The logical consequence of this orientation of agricultural is the growing exploitation and oppression of the peasants, and the methods of production remain essentially archaic. The development of capitalism in agriculture as well as of finance capital in the countryside have caused class differences among the peasantry of Upper Volta.
Therefore, there are many poor peasants without technical, material and financial means who live in miserable conditions on small plots of land. Some cannot even live off their crops and are forced to work for the rich peasants or on large capitalist farms: they are the ones who form the agricultural proletariat, which is brutally exploited and suffers under miserable living conditions.
Some data illustrate the characteristics of agriculture in Burkina Faso:
* 84.3% of the peasants are illiterate.
* 73% of households use rudimentary work tools such as the “daba” (small hand hoe).
* Only three peasants out of a thousand own a tractor.
* 84% of peasants do not have any means of transport and continue carrying their merchandise on their heads.
* Only one in a thousand has a motor-pump for irrigation.
* With over 3.5 million hectares of cropland, only 20,000 have irrigation, that is, 0.6%.
* With over nine million hectares of arable land, only 3.5 million are cultivated.
Given this appalling poverty, there are a small number of rich peasants with large fields, modern means of cultivation and livestock. They are the rural bourgeoisie whose interests are linked to the vestiges of the feudal forces, to the foreign capitalists and the capitalists of Upper Volta and the neocolonial state. The agricultural policy implemented under the direction of the international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, IMF and WTO, consisting mainly of structural adjustment programs, lead to serious consequences.
* Liquidations, decline in value, privatization of state companies. Among others are the National Grain Agency (OFNACER), National Company for Marketing Rice (SONACOR), Price Stabilization Fund for Agricultural Products (CSPPA), National Center for Agricultural Equipment (CNEA), etc.. These measures have led to massive layoffs and downsizing.
* The State ignores the plight of the peasants and of agricultural production by blocking the recruitment of engineers, technicians and agricultural personnel since 1991, as well as eliminating aid and support to production.
* The development of export crops (to the detriment of food crops) to obtain the hard currency needed to pay the debts incurred by the State with the IMF and the new rural bourgeoisie. The land is well prepared for the development of big agricultural business for the benefit of multinationals such as AIGLON / SOPROFA, AIGLON HOLDING and the new rural bourgeoisie.
The usurpation of the land and the expropriation of the rural poor for the benefit of the multinationals and the local bourgeoisie
We are witnessing the development of capitalism in agriculture by applying a whole series of administrative and economic measures that lead to the looting of the country’s agricultural resources and the growing impoverishment of the small peasants for the benefit the large agricultural companies. The neocolonial state has imposed a new law on agricultural and real estate organization (RAF), adopted in June 2009. This law is based on the same logic of the former bourgeois and anti-popular decree of the regime of the Second Republic in early 1970: “The land for those who can work it.” Basing themselves on this law, the rich, the leaders in power, the top ranks of the colonial army and the businessmen have seized the land. They have monopolized large domains, thousands of hectares of the fertile regions of the country and of the areas with water resources.
The relations in these areas have deteriorated progressively. The land that was once a vital asset for the people is now commercialized. The owners of these lands were obliged, sometimes by force, to cede them. This causes conflicts in the communities since the property was still communal. Those who had been given land to work have been deprived of them overnight. They form the reserve of the future agricultural laborers for large farms of the rural bourgeoisie, at the head of which are the Chief of State Blaise Compaore and his clan of gangsters made up of his family and his closest allies. The fertile lands of the east, west and southwest regions of the country are the target of these predators to create smallholdings to the detriment of the local population. To better control the peasants, they have created peasant organizations manipulated by the authorities, such as the Burkinabe Peasant Confederation and the National Union of Cotton Producers, both led by landowners.
However, the poor peasantry has not remained idle faced with such exploitation and oppression that is causing the misery that they suffer daily. The peasants and the local population are joining the struggle to express their own demands against the cotton companies SOCOMA, SOFITEX and FASO COTTON.
The struggle of the poor peasantry and the agricultural proletariat and the alternative for a true emancipation
Faced with great misery, exploitation and oppression, the peasant masses are developing diverse forms of struggles that are shaking the passivity of the countryside. The great struggles of the democratic and revolutionary movement against impunity for economic and blood crimes of the gangster regime of the Republic, against the high cost of living and for democratic freedoms, have a positive influence on the peasant masses. This is despite the divisive maneuvers of the authorities to keep the population under the burden of backward customs supported by the remnants of the feudal forces. The class struggle is gradually spreading to the rural areas, especially where agricultural wage labor predominates, as in cotton and sugarcane. In these struggles the young people are showing a great fighting spirit.
In 2011, a year of great popular struggles in all the economic and social sectors of the country, the peasants in the cotton-growing areas waged multiple struggles (demonstrations in the streets and markets) including insurrectionary movements to boycott the cultivation of cotton, for a fair purchase price for their crops, etc., since the Inter-Professional Cotton Association of Burkina AICB imposes the ridiculous price of cotton of less than 1 euro per kilo…
These struggles have been violently repressed by police forces to prevent the destruction of crops by the angry peasants. The peasants are arbitrarily arrested and held in police centers to prevent the rise of the social movements. But this crackdown has not undermined the determination of the producers, who are organizing to demand the release of their arrested comrades as well as for their demands.
The PCRV strongly supports these struggles and is carrying out work of agitation and propaganda to strengthen and improve the organization of the peasant movement. The party, on the basis of Marxism-Leninism is analyzing the characteristics of the economic and social reality of the country, and has developed its agricultural program to guide its activities to mobilize and organize the poor peasantry and the agricultural proletariat. The PCRV is the only political party that in its political program actually addresses the great popular aspirations whose realization is made impossible by the rule of the country by French imperialism and its local allies. In this struggle for the winning of political freedom and total emancipation, the working class has as its main ally the poor peasantry, without which it will not achieve its final objective. Similarly, without the working class led by the party, the poor peasantry despite their numerical importance will not achieve a correct revolutionary solution to their problems. The revolutionary alliance of the working class and the peasantry under the PCRV is the key to the struggle to achieve political freedom, for the National Democratic and Popular Revolution (NDPR).
In the process of this struggle, particularly in a context of the revolutionary crisis in our country for ten years, the party calls on the people to organize independent of the reactionary forces, to fight for bread and freedom, to fight for the realization of the urgent demands of the social and popular classes and strata summarized in the Party Program. The immediate struggle for these partial demands will contribute to improving the living and working conditions of the popular masses, especially the poor peasants. In its agrarian Program, the PCRV summarized the demands of the peasant.
“To eliminate the remnants of the old feudal system and in the interest of a free development of the class struggle in the countryside, to resolutely mobilize, organize and lead the peasant masses in the struggle for the achievement of the NDPR, the PCRV is fighting to achieve the following demands:
“1) Abolition of all penal servitude (“corvee”), the institutions and all forms of feudal and semi-feudal oppression and exploitation, particularly in the east and north of the country (Mossi Plateau, Yatenga, Gourma, Djelgodi, Liptako)
. “2) Right to organize peasant unions.
“3) Elimination of mortgages and debt bondage over the land and crops. Free disposition by the peasants of their land and crops. Nullification and prohibition of usurious loans and contracts of a feudal nature.
“4) Elimination of unfair taxes and rates on the peasants. Prohibition of confiscation and sale of the property of the peasants, of imprisonment or forced labor (in the fields of the feudals and “notables”, of the chiefs, of cleaning of public places, etc.) for inability to pay taxes. Elimination of tax collectors and repressive methods to collect taxes in the countryside.
“5) Canals, reservoirs and water dams at the expense of the State in sufficient quantity and quality for the land of the peasants and livestock owners. Agricultural equipment, fertilizers, seeds and insecticides at affordable prices in relation to the purchasing power of the peasants.
“6) Confiscation and division among the poor peasants of the warehoused rice, maize, millet, etc., seized by the usurers and speculators. Actual handover to the peasants of the provisions and aid released or received to help fight against famine and natural calamities.
“The PCRV is resolutely struggling to group the agricultural proletariat into an independent class organization, to lead it to take a firm position between its interests and those of the rural bourgeoisie, the political-bureaucratic bourgeoisie, the comprador and the foreign capitalists. Thus the agricultural proletariat, under the leadership of the party, can play its vanguard role in the countryside and for the achievement of the NDPR as the transitional stage towards full revolution, the only way to do away with all exploitation and misery.
“In short, the revolutionary alliance of the working class and peasantry under the leadership of the PCRV is the only way to guarantee better living conditions of the poor peasants and the agricultural workers, for the revolutionary and consistent solution to their fundamental problems and those of all the people.
“Bread and freedom for the people!
“Long live the revolutionary alliance of the working class and peasantry under the leadership of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta!”
Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta-2014