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By Saulo Araujo
April 15th, 2011
The Via Campesina declared April 17 as "International Day of Peasants' Struggles." This day commemorates the 1996 slaughter by the Brazilian police of 19 peasants of the Landless Worker Movement (MST) while they mobilized to gain access to some land. The struggle for recognition of peasant rights remains a priority of the Via Campesina, one of Grassroots International's partners, and they are coordinating hundreds of actions worldwide.
Below is an article from Grassroots International partner, the Via Campesina, in preparation for the International Day of Peasants’ Struggles. The Via is an international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity and strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature.
Below is an update from Grassroots International’s partner, the Via Campesina, concerning the situation of farmers in Japan. To keep up to date with the Nouminren blog, visit http://earlybirds.ddo.jp/earlybirds/saigai/?lang=en.
News from Nouminren, La Via Campesina member in Japan
“I do not think that I can farm this year, but with the members of local NOUMINREN, we will take one step after another to make a come back of our agriculture in our village!
Farmers demonstrated the strength of their solidarity with pro-union forces in Wisconsin through the creative force of a “tractorcade,” and the inspiring power of their words and actions. Grassroots International allies from the Family Farm Defenders and the National Family Farm Coalition played prominent roles in the effort to show support to Wisconsin workers.
Grassroots International joins with those around the world in expressing our sadness and concern for the people of Japan in the wake of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Thousands have died, and many more are missing or being evacuated due to ongoing health and safety threats.
While Grassroots International does not have a program in East Asia or Japan, we wanted to share a statement of solidarity from our partner the Vía Campesina and offer resources for those who wish to directly support groups working in the region, including three options for donations.
Every year on March 8th – International Women’s Day – thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. As I review Grassroots International’s past year in grant making, I am inspired by the many projects we made in support of women-led initiatives. From projects centered on securing women’s livelihoods through organic gardens in Guatemala, to empowering women biodiversity practitioners in India, as well as many others, we have stayed committed to supporting efforts that give women a key role in advancing social justice. Sharing our connection to their work with you is my personal celebration.
"Pourquoi la campagne": Via Campesina Africa launches Campaign to End Violence against Women at 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar
In 2008, I was privileged to attend the 5th international conference of Grassroots International partner the Via Campesina, in Matola, Mozambique. The Via, a global movement representing over 150 million peasants and other small producers on 5 continents, has been the leading voice for the rights of small farmers and farmworkers as well as other small producers and has led global campaigns for agrarian reform, against free trade and for climate justice. At its 2008 conference, however, it launched another global campaign that a lot of people don’t yet know about. This is the Global Campaign to End Violence against Women.
In Central America, a new campaign to stop violence against women is gaining momentum. Launched by the Via Campesina International (the Via), the campaign is aimed at changing not only the attitudes of men towards women, but systemic and institutional violence against women.
It is the tradition at World Social Forums (WSF) to focus a considerable amount of time, energy, resources and attention on issues faced by people in the host region and country. The 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal that I had the privilege of attending was no different. Africa and African issues suffused the WSF throughout the forum.
One of these issues was the massive land grabs that are taking place all across the continent. Appropriately called the New Scramble for Africa, it is eerily similar to the mad rush by European colonial powers during the last quarter of the 19th century to divide Africa up among them.