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By Lydia Simas
April 16th, 2015
People from community organizations, immigrants groups, longtime Grassroots supporters and folks wanting to connect local social justice work with international movements filled the room on Monday night. On the floor at the center of a big circle of filled chairs was an arrangement of candles, flowers, seeds, soil and flags representing the vibrant social movements present in the room, both from the local Boston area and from as far as Mozambique and Nicaragua. We were all together to celebrate the upcoming International Day of Peasants Struggle (April 17), to hear two powerful women speak about international movements for peasants’ and women’s rights, and to make local-global links.
Grassroots International is hard at work across the U.S. and beyond putting issues such as climate justice, food sovereignty, resource rights, Palestine, women’s leadership—even when they are controversial or unpopular—into the limelight.
Spreading the word is a key strategy we use to advance resource rights, particularly when it comes to connecting our Global South partners to sources of solidarity, funding and support, and making changes in policies here in the U.S. We do more than give grants; we build solidarity right here in the U.S. for our partners and their social movements. It is also a key reason why funders and donors choose Grassroots International as a vehicle to support them.
According to our partner the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), approximately 10,000 families in the city of Altamira in Brazil will be directly affected by the flooding and subsequent lake created from the construction of the Belo Monte mega-dam. Meanwhile Norte Energia, the company responsible for this mega-project, has only built 4,100 poorly-constructed houses for the displaced without any other infrastructure like schools, medical facilities, and public transportation for the displaced communities. These are only a few of the reasons is why hundreds of people came together on March 11 to protest against the Belo Monte dam.
Grassroots International celebrates the courageous work of frontline women defending the human rights of peasant and indigenous women around the world. One of these women is Yazmín López, a national coordinator for the Council for the Integral Development of the Peasant Woman (CODIMCA). A partner of Grassroots International, CODIMCA is the lead organization for the Women’s Regional Commission of La Vía Campesina–Central America, and one of the first peasant women-led organizations formed in Honduras with the explicit objective of reclaiming women’s land rights. Below is an excerpt of my interview with Yazmín.
What inspires you to work for women’s rights in Honduras?
In the United States we’ve spent months zeroing in on the reality of police brutality against Black people. We’ve been grateful to see and take part in a growing movement that addresses structural racism—pointing out that Black people are disproportionately more likely to die at the hands of police, face institutional racism, and breathe more polluted air.
In the Black nation of Haiti, too, there has been a systematic dismissal of the value of Black lives and US policy has been deeply implicated in interventions that slaughter the interests of Haiti’s people in favor of a narrow elite.
By Sara Mersha
February 5th, 2015
Is it possible to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinians’ human rights, and thus take steps to end at least some of the worst aspects of the Israeli occupation, through the arena of international law? That’s a question that could be answered in the coming years.
On January 16, 2015, the International Criminal Court launched a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is an initial inquiry, after which point the ICC could decide whether or not to take up a full investigation.
The toxic oil spill in eastern Montana oozed onto the land of one of Grassroots International’s partners and a fierce voice for food sovereignty and environmental justice. Now her denunciations of the gluttonous crude industry and on behalf of small farmers and the environment are reaching far and wide, but at a terrible price.
On this International Migrants Day (December 18), Grassroots International pays tribute to the courage and dedication of many of our partners and allies, internationally and in the U.S., who are working at the intersection of migrant justice and resource rights. One of these partners is Carlos Marentes, Sr., director of Centro De Los Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos (the Border Agricultural Workers Center) in El Paso, Texas. A close Grassroots International partner and co-coordinator of Via Campesina North America.
Since coming to power in 2011, the administration of President Martelly has failed to hold elections for senate seats, the chamber of deputies, and local. Fed up with inactivity, the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH) renewed calls for elections in Haiti, joining other human rights organizations throughout the nation.
I joined the chants of “Black Lives Matter” last night, together with other staff of Grassroots International and several thousand other Bostonians, marching to the steps of the State House. This was my first demonstration since I came onboard as Executive Director of Grassroots International (two days ago!) and solidified the local-global links that are so central to this work.
For me, and for so many others who care about human rights and social justice, the issue goes far beyond Michael Brown or Eric Garner or a litany of other names on a case-by-case basis. The issue is the systemic devaluing of some lives and the protection of others in such a way that benefits some and subjugates others.