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By Jovanna Garcia Soto
June 18th, 2015
The US Treasury Department will now be responsible for restructuring Guatemala’s tax collection agency (the Superintendency of Tax Administration, or SAT). That announcment came last week from the US Ambassador and Guatemala’s President and follows weeks of public outrage and political fallout after a customs bribery ring was exposed in a UN-backed investigation.
Social movements around the world, including Grassroots International partners, take action on World Environment Day (June 5) to highlight the importance of ecological justice. On this day, we are happy to share a video from a recent talk that Grassroots International had the opportunity to be a part of, along with Anim Steel, founder and Executive Director of the Real Food Challenge, and Mark Bittman, New York Times journalist and author.
By Jovanna Garcia Soto
May 22nd, 2015
Outraged by a pervasive corruption scandal that implicates top government officials, tens of thousands of Guatemalans filled the streets of the capital for their fourth week to demand the resignation of President Perez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti. The nonviolent protestors already won the second of those resignations when Baldetti stepped down after being implicated in a massive Tax Administration corruption scandal. And yesterday, Ministers of the Interior, Environment and Security also resigned in the wake of the scandal.
Small-scale food producers and global movement leaders gathered in Mali earlier this year to lay out a plan to transform and repair our food system and the rural world that has been devastated by industrial food production. Their declaration (below) spells out specific values, strategies, challenges and next-steps to not only feed the world, but also address climate change by advancing agroecology.
Hosted by Grassroots International grantee CNOP (the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations) and La Via Campesina, among several other leading agroecology organziations, the International Forum on Agroecology outlined agroecology is a key form of resistance to the commodification of food and seeds, and moves toward a healthy planet.
The Caribbean Court of Justice, Belize’s highest appellant court, ruled that the Maya Indigenous People of southern Belize have rights to lands they have customarily used and occupied. The Court affirmed that these traditional land rights constitute property within the meaning of the provisions of the Belize Constitution that generally protect property free from discrimination.
After almost a decade of legal struggle, the April 20th judgement finally upholds the rights of the indigenous Maya to their ancestral lands.
Grassroots International has supported he Maya Leaders Alliance, a lead plaintiff in the case and community voice for indigenous rights and cultural.
Contrary to Western assertions, Africa is not a blank slate.
Africans have a long history of vibrant culture, politics, economics and agriculture. However, since Europe’s first encounter with Africa through present day, international “decisionmakers” have approached the African continent as though it was devoid of people along with history. Africa is imagined out of context, and those projections become the basis for policy.
In our times, the battle for Africa is being waged one plot of agricultural land at a time. Control of Africa’s food system is being wrested away from peasant farmers and being turned over to agribusinesses such as Monsanto under the guise of agricultural development.
Grassroots International and our global partners are leading the way in developing sustainable solutions to the biggest challenges facing our world. From farming cooperatives and seed banks, to passing laws that protect ancestral lands and defending the human right to land, water, and food, together we take on big struggles and win important gains. Below are just some of the successes achieved in 2014 with support from Grassroots International, standing up to challenge poverty, climate disruption and human rights abuses.
Moving Towards an International Declaration on the Rights of Peasants
Honduras is the country with the highest level of homicide of any nation not at war, where government violence and human rights abuses have almost total impunity. It is also the country contributing most of the flood of children who have been recently forced to migrate to the US, because of that violence and by poverty – both, in part, a legacy of US policy in the region.
Yet something else is afoot. A fierce social movement, composed of many sectors, is pushing back to protect democracy, lives, and political rights. Indigenous peoples, including Garifuna, Lenca, Pech, Miskito, Maya Chortí, and Tolupan, are asserting their human right to autonomy, territory, and cultural survival.
This spring, Grassroots International was invited to participate in a project of the Kindle Project called the "Indie Philanthropy Initiative." For more information about the project, visit indph.org. The interview below includes reflections from Nikhil Aziz and Sara Mersha.
How do you do your funding and please describe your organization’s approach and process, explaining how it is different from conventional philanthropy.
In the morning of September 30, 2014, members of the National Police and military conducted an eviction in the Afro-descendant and indigenous (Garifuna) community of Barra Vieja, Tela, in northern Honduras. Members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, or OFRANEH, are demanding respect for their right to their ancestral home and an immediate return of the usurped lands.