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By Jonathan Leaning
January 25th, 2013
Grassroots International supports hands-on solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges: hunger, violations of human rights, climate change and environmental degradation, and economic disparity. During the last year, Grassroots International and our global partners and allies – including small farmers, indigenous peoples and human rights activists – achieved some victories in their struggle to secure the human right to land, water and food for all. Below are just some of the highlights.
Local residents from San Dionisio del Mar (Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico) are protesting the construction of a huge wind farm in their community. Their prolonged and energetic resistance has been met with violent repression and even death threats made against several opposition leaders.
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Vaikuntha is a young Savaara (an indigenous tribe from east central India) man I met in Bhimaavaram village in East Godavari district of India's Andhra Pradesh (AP) state on a site visit with Yakshi (a Grassroots grantee).
Thirteen years ago, he finished 10th grade and went back to his village in Srikakulam district. The school he was in was in a different area, and he didn’t like the fact that they made him and his other Savaara friends take more Hindu sounding names like Vaikuntha or Mahesh.
There were a lot of young people back in his village. They had many questions about what kinds of development serves people.
Bhoodevi (second from left) is a young Savaara woman from Srikakulam district (county) in Andhra Pradesh (AP) state in India. Her name means Earth Goddess or Mother Earth. The Savaaras are an Adivasi (ɑːdɪˈvɑːsi/ literally, earliest inhabitants) indigenous group that straddle the forests and hills in the border regions of modern day AP and Odisha states in east-central India. In Srikakulam they along with the Jataapus form the core of the indigenous population.
By Jonathan Leaning
November 26th, 2012
A massive, very active social movement against the loss of land and ecosystems caused by hydro-electric dams is making headway in Brazil. The movement is little known in North America so far, but that’s changing. And it’s on the brink of spreading across the world wherever large dams are being built and waterways threatened.
But what’s all the fuss, some may ask. Doesn’t it usually only affect isolated communities, and isn’t hydropower a much more environmentally friendly source of cheap energy, especially compared with nuclear, coal, or oil? Are these anti-dam activists clinging to a kind of prosaic, but impractical pastoral way of life, or just trying to push the dams into somebody else’s backyard?
Leaders of the Guarani Kaiowá boldly announced that the entire community would rather die in their land defending from businesses and corporations. Their assertion is more than a war declaration. For us, the buyers of “clean energy,” their pronouncement is a jarring wake-up call that the “Green Economy” actually promotes genocide of indigenous people and Afro-descendent communities –whether in the form of a slow die off of disposed peoples or a quicker resistance.
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.
Created in 1978, the Peasant Unity Committee (CUC) was the first national organization formed by peasants and indigenous people in Guatemala. CUC is represented in over 200 communities and 6 micro-regions of the country. The organization is dedicated to rights to land, water and food sovereignty in impoverished peasant communities in Guatemala. Its approach includes:
The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending the rights of Garifuna peoples in Honduras. Garifuna peoples are Afro-descendent and indigenous communities who have successfully resisted various threats – from slavery and colonialism, to current-day pressures of neoliberalism. OFRANEH’s work to defend Garifunas’ land and territorial rights is part of that long struggle for the human rights of Afro-descendent indigenous populations.