Via Campesina

Grassroots International and Partners at the USSF in Detroit

By Alisa Pimentel

Among the almost 20,000 activists gathered in Detroit for the US Social Forum this week are several Grassroots International partners and allies. Grassroots International regularly provides funding to our partners and allies to participate in movement-building and leadership development gatherings.

You Are What You Eat

I have a button on my backpack that says: “If You Are What You Eat, Then I’m Fast, Cheap, and Easy.” Thankfully, this quip is sarcastic in my case, but for many people, including many of those working for global justice, it is all too true. Whether due to marketing hype or sheer convenience, usually smart folks can fall down when it comes to what they put in their mouths. The personal is political, and this is reflected each time someone votes for “business as usual” by giving their money to a fast-food chain or big box retailer. The result is a broken food/farm system that is systematically abusing animals, exploiting workers, perverting biodiversity, undermining democracy, jeopardizing health, and destroying the planet.

“System Change, Not Climate Change”

Last month, I traveled to Cochabamba, Bolivia for a number of reasons. The main one was to attend the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Many of Grassroots International’s partners from Latin America, Asia and Africa were also there – some of whom we supported to attend – and it was a great opportunity for me to meet with them and with many of our allies in one central location. They were all at the conference because for them the climate crisis is immediate in its impact and not some theoretical scenario for the future.

Biotechnology: A False Sense of Food Security

Recently our colleague Timi Gerson at American Jewish World Service published the article below, debunking the myth that biotechnology will save the world from hunger and exposing the anti-organic bias of biotech advocates. Grassroots International and the American Jewish World Service are working to support food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture worldwide.
 

Indigenous Women take on a big fight in Guatemala

Last week, I met with representatives from the National Women’s Commission of the Via Campesina - Guatemala. The Commission comprises women from four different peasant and indigenous organizations. As I entered the small office, I quickly recognized familiar faces from my last meeting with them in 2009, except for one young woman sitting in the corner with an open notebook: Julieta. The new National Coordinator for Women of our partner the National Coordination of Indigenous People’s and Campesinos (CONIC), Julieta is a soft-spoken leader facing the enormous task of coordinating rural women from 475 Mayan communities.

Haitian Led Reconstruction and Development

Grassroots International had been hearing from our partners in Haiti, both the peasant movements as well as the urban-based coalitions, that they were extremely disheartened by their exclusion from the development of plans for Haiti’s relief and reconstruction. Since the week after the earthquake, our partners have shared with us several thoughtful and powerful statements that outline the key principles and strategies necessary for a more just renewal of Haiti - from their perspective. Grassroots International has been sharing their statements as widely as possible – working to insert and amplify their voices within the larger policy debates.

International Day of Action for Rivers

Cultures in different parts of our planet have long held rivers to be life-giving. Early human civilizations are even known by their connection to the river systems whose banks they arose from like the Indus-Ganga, the Nile and the Yangtze Kiang-Huang He. But today human actions and inaction have literally throttled our rivers through industrial pollution, mega dams, diversification, deforestation and the list goes on.... But people are fighting back -- especially those most directly impacted. In my home country India, numerous popular movements have emerged like the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA-Save the Narmada Movement) and the Ganga Mukti Andolan (GMA-Free the Ganga Movement).

Via Campesina calls for End to Violence against Women

Grassroots International partner La Via Campesina celebrated international women's day, March 8, 2010 with a re-affirmation of their global campaign to end violence against women. Last November 25th, on the occasion of International Day against Gender Violence, the Via called for an end to all forms of violence against women and called on its members to work with their ally, the World March of Women to coordinate actions against gender violence. The Via launched its campaign to end violence against women at its fifth international congress in 2008, in Maputo, Mozambique.

One step forward towards a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants

 

Recently the Advisory Committee of the U.N. Human Rights Council approved the report “Discrimination in the Context of Right to Food.” Their endorsement of the report is a significant first step towards the recognition of peasant’s rights—something that Grassroots International and our partner the Via Campesina have advocated for years.
 
We now hope that the leadership of the U.N. Human Rights Council will embrace the recommendation of its advisory board. It will be one step forward for justice.

Grassroots International Partners in Haiti receive emergency funding

Since a devastating earthquake shook Haiti more than two weeks ago, Grassroots International’s partners on the ground have been working to assess the situation and respond to the needs of the community – even as they themselves have suffered great losses.  With help from hundreds of people who have donated in response to the crisis, Grassroots International has made three initial grants to three of our partners in Haiti.