By Saulo Araujo
November 9th, 2012
Before becoming Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Roussef helped to engineer an ambitious development plan that would change the country. Known as the Accelerated Growth Plan and the Ten-year Energy Plan, it would build 134 dams by the year of 2020 in the Amazon alone. Among the losers in the plan: thousands of acres of forest; habitat for endangered species; and thousands of families unfortunate enough to have ancestors who chose to settle these lands. According to Grassroots International’s partner, the Brazilian Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), the ambitious development plan failed to include any funding to offset hunger and unemployment, or to revamp public services for those displaced populations whose livelihoods will be wiped.
By Mina Remy
November 5th, 2012
Hurricane and Superstorm Sandy caused billions in damages from the Caribbean to Canada, killed more than 100 people and left many in its wake without basic necessities. For those of us who live in countries where our cities, states, and federal governments have the resources to tackle complex emergencies, the return to normal life, though unimaginable now, will slowly unfurl.
Last Wednesday, October 10th, in New York City, I had the privilege of witnessing the US Food Sovereignty Alliance award the fourth annual Food Sovereignty Prize to the Korean Women Peasant’s Association (KWPA).
This summer, a group of Grassroots International supporters and allies participated in a delegation to Pernambuco, Brazil. There they saw first-hand the resilient and powerful work of the Landless Workers Movement, the Movement of People Affected by Dams, and the Via Campesina. Along the way, delegates talked with with small farmers, families living in encampments waiting for land, and indigenous communities working to protect their ancestral lands from the incursion of impending dams.
Below is a blog from Peggy Newell, one of the delegates and a Grassroots International supporter, offering her reflections on the journey.
Traveling to Not That Brazil, by Peggy Newell
In rural areas like Seu Lazaro’s community in the state of Goiás, Brazil, vendors of genetically modified seeds used to drop by with wide smiles and black suitcases full of samples and colorful catalogues. Their dusty cars, parked in the middle of the road, are a map of their sales route across miles of unpaved, bumpy roads. According to Seu Lazaro, these vendors (often trained agronomists) go from house to house trying to convince peasant farmers to buy seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides by promising lush crops and a good return in the investment.
Those promises convinced Seu Lazaro’s father to use GM seeds, who then convinced him.
Yesterday I spoke with two members of Brazil’s Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) in Sao Paulo City. MAB is an inspiring organization formed by families who have been displaced by mega-dams in Brazil. Grassroots supports MAB in the organizing of displaced families, or atingidos, so they can collectively defend their land, water and food rights.
Earlier this week, The Guardian reported on a study that looked at rising sea levels from a new angle. The study found that efforts to meet increasing freshwater demand by harnessing “fossil” groundwater [groundwater that cannot be replenished for millennia under current climate conditions] contributes more to rising sea levels than melting glaciers. Since there it cannot be replenished, tapping groundwater results in land subsidence (downward-shifting of ground surface) and a one-way transfer of water into the oceans.
In South Africa, land occupation is expanding as a strategy for achieving genuine agrarian reform, food sovereignty and climate justice. Since these are all critical issues for people living in cities, land occupations in both urban and rural areas are an important, and often unrecognized, part of global movements.
Our friends at Global Forest Coalition and Global Justice Ecology Project have produced a new video entitled A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests. The 28-minute video documents opposition around the globe to controversial programs that claim to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) by putting forests into the carbon market.