The General Assembly of Rural Farmers
With a spontaneous flowering of rebellion, a class of consciousness has been born in the farmers of Ecuador; but this awakening of the labor classes constitutes a collective psychological phenomenon, which emanates as a consequence of a long period of approbation, composed of outrages and oppressions that are inherent manifestations of the capitalist regimen of decomposition.
The working classes of the countryside have been flattened by the feudalist dictatorship; the masters and landowners have considered the producers of the wealth as an integral part of their livestock. The life of misery of the farmers has been brutally regulated by the inalterable pendulum of the whip. The accumulated wealth in the outside banks and those of the nation, work has been from those that have spilled sweat from their noble brows in another’s furrow that will never give them its fruit in the field of the master, where his cabin, his poor hut shelters him in so much as his unconditional slavery satisfies the octopus property owner and the noble of laws and authorities. This approbation of inconceivable atrocities had to engender sometime; the rebelliousness of the workers, and this rebellion could not be extinguished with the fierce bleeding of the Governments and of the landowners, with savage massacres that only managed to inflame the fight and putting to price the incompetent and vain heads of those that rob the honorable work from the farmers and workers.
The General Assembly of Rural Farmers, celebrated in Milagro, is the first step towards no distant social economic normality for the workers. It has been spontaneous between the farmers of Milagro and Yaguachi, this desire to unite forces and share ideas in order to obtain the objective of improvement. Under the brotherhood flag that sustains this great Assembly, they should group all the exploitative and all those that suffer from hunger. The adhesion to the attitude of the workers represented in the Assembly will be the first conquest toward working demands.
Interpreting our aspirations, that are those of all our brothers of work, the Assembly has formulated a document of immediate petition that has been submitted at the National Assembly of 1928 so that, conveying to the land of reality, constitute at least a mitigating factor or truce for the distressing situation of the Farmer.
The Assembly of Workers trusts these claims to the consciousness of the representative of the Constituent and to the profound justice of its cause.
The petition document contains the following points to alleviate the exasperating crisis of the farmers and workers in general:
1. Large land estate limitation, in agreement with the necessities of each branch of agricultural production, should be compensated fairly to those whom verify the legitimacy of possession and in agreement with the territorial patrimony law.
With respect to this claim, it is important that we have a commentary. Only a cynic and barbarian mentality can defend the monopolizing of lands since the physiological necessities of the landowners are the same as that of the great mass of disposed workers and for them only a plot of productive land suffices before that enormous extension of land with unlimited virgin mountains where the private property does not play another role hindering the cultivation for which large masses of unemployed farmers exist and in situations of anguish. This form of respecting the private property is not but to betray those of the highest interest of the welfare of the Ecuadorian people. The latifundium no longer fulfills a social mission of production as it was believed before, but is a strong negative in the collaboration for a better economic state for the entire country.
When the workers throw their greedy looks on the extensions of abandoned land, the latifundista and landowners offer to lease at prices very high or equal to that of rural property and below medieval conditions of slavery, abrogating all the rights until that of eviction, in whatever moment, and denying the workers the right of defense.
2. Creation of agricultural colonies watched closely by agrarian syndicates and by the Government inside of special regulations for the object.
With this form of exploitation of the land, we want to demonstrate that we do not intend to divide the land in order to enrich ourselves, without working under the criterion of order and tending to stimulating the union of the best production.
3. Creation of agricultural cooperatives with Hypothecary Bank credit and long term concessions for amortization. With this credit, reserve banks will be created for the acquisition of tools, livestock, seed, etc.
Now that the people support freight as heavy as government monopolized phosphorus goods, it has the right to require that their sacrifices partially benefit agriculture, since they opt that the tax of government monopolized phosphorus goods overflow in the greatest agricultural development.
4. Selection of Authorities. Owing as its fundamental condition to require certificates of conduct and honesty.
This selection of authorities is the base of order and a better guarantee for the citizens. A long history of ominous crimes, committed by the authorities, to be called political bosses, lieutenants, gendarmes or rural police, the need imposes on us that the life of the farmers is properly protected from the crimes that are in the secret of the feuds, entrusts the landowners under a very legendary and total immunity.
This preceding of calls to watch for public order has been known, the press of the seaboard as of the saw has been marked as an endemic illness of criminal virus, the one that suffers the call or authority and police in all parts, especially in the fields, where the unknown jungle covers the anonymity of the criminal.
5. Enlargement of the rural work inspectors, those that always favor the development of production, making complete without shameful vacillations with the capitalists, the laws of social previsions and the work code that should be elaborated in a form that responds to their end under the mixed inspection of workers and representatives of the Government.
6. Creation of an agrarian police made up of agricultural workers. Well, this will replace the actual brigand squad that they call the rural police and will fulfill the ends for which the rural police was created. Being farmers, the order watchmen and arbitrators of justice, the workers would no longer see the police as genuine representatives of the landowners and the rich, but their brothers that have a sacred mission to complete.
7. Completion of the Public Instruction Law in relation to requiring the maintenance of schools in the estates, arms or ingenuities where there are at least twenty children. These schools should be run to charge, in relating to the support of the property, company, or landowner.
8. Maintenance of rural doctors, with the distribution of the municipalities and landlords, for the acquisition of medicines in general. This branch of public service is also a complement so that the law of work accidents will strictly apply.
It is known that the farmers lack health care in the absolute and that the tropical illnesses have harvested in the estates and towns of Litoral; this contributes a decisive form in which they debate the miserable and unhygienic conditions.
9. Implantation of municipal weighers in all parts where rice piladoras exist during harvest time.
Factory owners exist that exploit the illiteracy of their workers and, that when they deposit their products, do not know how they should be weighed correctly. The landlord tyrants and industrial ingenuity of the superintendents arrive until they require without leaving the traditional 200 pounds of quintal as deliver of the production of the farmers or leaseholders to the owner master of the harvest.
10. Since the intensification of production is indispensible, within the economic capacity of the state, intensify the road service. Therefore without bad arteries it can circulate the blood of the national economy. On the other hand, the agriculture needs for the same dredging flow of the fluvial rivers and the location of the telegraphic network without which rural life will remain as it is today, isolated from all national communion.
11. An Administration of Justice, free for farm laborers since in this matter ignorance is exploited for the benefit of petty lawyers without consciences and mercenaries by trade.
The Assembly of Rural Workers presents to the criterion of the Constituent these essential points of immediate improvement.
Many and deep are the problems of the proletarian farmer, as much in the coast as in the mountains where the life that we carry is the same as the cavemen. We are the margin of development of the current civilization, and of her, we only receive the worst: the criminal exploitation on the part of the possessing classes.
It is true that the Constituent does not expect major disasters or conflicts of incalculable consequences; do us justice since our sheet of petition cannot be more just nor more humane and rational. To light of all the consequences and in reach of all the brains is that our distressing situation does not deserve indifference but remedy. This remedy will not be done with empty words and discourse of landowners nor with endemic promises on the part of political power. The Ecuadorian farmer needs immediate attention to his problems, because these problems are the life or death of the great mass of workers.
Already, for many years, they have played with the rights and with the welfare of the people and, until now, the situation of the proletarian farmer and the urban worker, far from improving, has been aggravated into the form of an immediate crisis. Taxes are the real unique thing that we have received from the public powers and are distressingly heavy. They recognize our duties and not our rights?
The Assembly of Rural Farmers of Milagro, Yaguachi, etc. represents a thousand workers and they hope for the voice of the National Constituent.
For Jujan: Francisco Díaz, Tomás Fuentes, y Mariano Herrera. For Marcelino Maridueña: Enrique Saa, Abraham Granizo y Miguel Merchán. --- For Bloiche: Nicolás Bustos, Daniel Cabrera, y Fermín Peñafiel.--- For Bucay: Juan T. Arboleda, Pedro T. Sánchez y Miguel González. ---For Yaguachi: Agustín Tovar F., Marcos Cortez e Israel Reina. ---For Naranjito: Víctor Bermeo, Francisco Núques y Cipriano Acosta. ---For Garaicoa: Marcos Vázcomes, Jorge Cornejo y León Jaramillo. ---For el Milagro: Gabriel Medina, Neptalí Pacheco y Reinaldo A. Gómez Coello.
Imp. Of C.C. of P.S.
Source: Imp. del C.C. del P.S., Private Collection of Leonardo J. Muñoz.