By Nicola Bullard with Gopal Dayaneni
September 16th, 2009
By Saulo Araujo
September 15th, 2009
Earlier this week, the BBC produced a shocking article: “Eyewitness: Guatemala food crisis.” The piece exposes the sad reality that haunts families throughout the country, particularly those in indigenous and peasant communities. I also encountered this dire situation -- children dying of starvation and many others suffering from hunger-related diseases -- during my visit to Guatemala last April, when I heard from our local partners that many peasant communities were showing signs of a food shortage.
During our visit to Brazil earlier this month, Saulo Araujo and I met with Grassroots International’s partners and the communities in which they work. I had prepared myself to talk about a range of issues, from Creole seeds to water scarcity to land occupation. I hadn’t expected to hear so much about the importance of a dignified life.
Last April my colleague Saulo Araujo (Program Coordinator for Brazil & Mesoamerica) and I visited Honduras. What impressed us the most was the strength and vibrancy of social movements, like our partners the Via Campesina (Central America) and COCOCH (the Honduran Coordinating Council of Peasant Organizations), and our allies like COPINH (Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras) and OFRANEH (Honduran Black Fraternal Organization). And especially the strong and resilient women in the forefront of struggle. Afro-Hondurans like Leoncia and Wendy, Lencas like Pasqualita, and Mestizo women like Analina and Berta
At a candidates forum convened by the Via every single presidential candidate attended.
The US-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA), created in 2005 by the Bush and Garcia administrations, came into effect on February 1st, 2009. Since this time, several protests have been held within the country by indigenous groups, peasants and their supporters. At the heart of the protests are several laws, which have been enacted, and since revoked, by the Garcia administration under the FTA.
Social movement leaders in Honduras, including members of Grassroots International's partner, La Via Campesina, fear for their lives, as tens of thousands have gathered to protest Sunday's coup d'etat against President Jose Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales.
Please call on the Honduran Embassy to demand that the congress and military respect and guarantee the human rights of all Hondurans and reinstate the democratically elected president, Mel Zelaya.
Ravi Rebbapragada Receives National leadership Award
Ravi Rebbapragada, coordinator of Mines, Minerals & Peoples-India (MM&P), received the National leadership Award - 2008 for Community Service and Social Upliftment. MM&P is a growing alliance of communities, individuals and institutions who are concerned and affected by mining, and a grant recipient of Grassroots International through the Global Activist Fund.
Below is a press release from MM&P describing the honor:
June 12, 2009
Ravi Rebbapragada Receives National leadership Award for Social Service from Vice President Shri Hamid Ansari
My colleague Saulo Araujo and I were recently in Guatemala visiting our partner CONIC (National Coordination of Indigenous Peoples & Campesinos). CONIC's staff took us to visit a local community they have been working with in the village of Cocorval, in the Department of Chimaltenango, over an hour's drive from Guatemala City on a "chicken bus."
On February 23, Grassroots International partner, the Via Campesina met with representatives of the United Nations in New York City to discuss ways to address the chronic problems faced by peasant communities around the globe.
The growing violation of resources rights of peasants by development policies - especially mega-projects whose main goal is to speed up the extraction and export of resources for corporate profits - is an issue that demands immediate attention.