Celebrations of the International Day of Campesino Struggle were held April 17 throughout the Americas. The day—initiated by Via Campesina—recognizes the lives of 19 campesinos massacred in El Dorado de Caracas, Brazil on April 17, 1996.
The day is a launching point for campesinos and small farmers worldwide to demand better treatment with regard to access to land, credit, water, technology and market access. Via Campesina is also using the opportunity to denounce the WTO and World Bank, whose failed policies have promoted a concentration of land into fewer and fewer hands world wide, forcing thousands of capable farmers to migrate or work as peons.
The mobilization of campesino movements has been critical in recent anti-corporate globalization gatherings. The protest-suicide of Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae galvanized protesters at the 2003 anti-WTO gathering in Cancun. Lee wore a sign with the words "WTO Kills Farmers" written on it as he impaled a knife into his chest and fell off a fence dividing police and fellow protesters.