Land Rights

How peasant farmers feed the planet

In the northeast of Brazil, the landscape changes from dry, spiny vegetation to humid, verdant scenery dominated by sugar cane plantations. Driving through villages inhabited mostly by sugar-cane cutters is like winding through a slum in a big city. Barefoot children sell candy beneath the traffic lights, Coca-Cola signs light up bars and open-air sewage gives an indication of the pervasive poverty.
 
In the middle of a “green desert” of sugar cane (grown mostly for export), from the road I saw two adults and a young boy working in what appeared to be a tiny oasis teeming with lush fresh vegetables that shined from afar.

Referendum on Land Holding Used to Educate about Landlessness, Agribusiness

As part of a larger campaign to support the right to land, this week Grassroots International provided a $10,000 grant to boost education and organizing around a powerful national referendum in Brazil. The referendum, being organized by social movements for the first week of September, probes public opinion regarding the size of land holdings.

Although non-binding, the referendum provides an opportunity for land rights activists to educate voters about the growing problem of landlessness in the countryside caused by the expansion of agribusinesses in peasant and indigenous communities.

Reimagining Israel’s Negev

Down south in the Negev desert, the sounds of jets fill wide-open spaces. Increasing militarization is constant -- at least 80% of the land there is used for military training purposes, including weaponry development. The Negev also contains the largest petrochemical processing center in the Middle East and Israel’s nuclear facilities. Bedouin communities who call the remaining land home are routinely -- and forcibly -- displaced.

UNOSJO and Indigenous Rights Featured in The Nation

In a recent article in The Nation (“Retreat to Subsistence,” July 5, 2010), Peter Canby describes the seminal work of one of Grassroots International’s partners in Mexico, the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO). Using UNOSJO's work as an example, he explores the larger issue of of indigenous rights in Mesoamerica.

Working to Keep Hope Alive in Haiti’s Forgotten Frontiers

Nestled between Haiti’s turquoise Caribbean waters and the foothills of the northern mountains, is a large plot of land close to the town of Limonade. Here at the height of planting season a group of peasants is hard at work. Claudelle Sensmyr, 36, quietly sprinkles handfuls of seeds down row after row of prepped soil. "I just started farming a few months ago," she told me, brushing off her hands and looking up. "I’m from Port-au-Prince," she added shyly and then motioned to the other farmers, "Many of us are."

In the wake of the earthquake that left most of urban Haiti in shambles six months ago, more than 500,000 survivors fled cities like Port-au-Prince and Jacmel to rural areas like Limonade.

Produce More Food, Naturally

The UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter is interviewed on agro-ecology and other important food-related issues. Results of a recent Essex University study on yield and agro-ecology are highlighted.

Brazilian Land Rights Activist in Boston

Grassroots International and U.S. Friends of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (FMST) are delighted to host Ana Justo, from the Florestan Fernandes National School of the Landless Workers Movement (MST), a Grassroots International partner and a member of the Via Campesina. She will be speaking Thursday, July 8 at Encuentro 5 in Boston at 6 p.m. Click here for more information.

Ana Justo has been a lead organizer of Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - MST) for 23 of its 25 years. The largest social movement in Latin America, the MST has 1.5 million members in 23 out 27 Brazilian states.

Honduran peasant freed after being unjustly prosecuted

What is the relationship between “green” energy and a peasant in jail? The answer lies at the heart of the struggle for resources rights, as the demand for land to produce agro-fuels for markets in the Global North generate land conflicts, rampant persecution and even deaths in peasant communities in the Global South.

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.

A Victory for Human Rights: Marlin Mine in Guatemala Ordered to Shut

After tireless campaigning by the indigenous people of Guatemala and international solidarity organizations, including Grassroots International, the Goldcorp Marlin Mine has been ordered to shut by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This is a huge victory for local Mayan residents who have fought for the past six years to hold Goldcorp accountable for appalling social and environmental problems caused by the mine. Grassroots International supported their struggle for justice by funding indigenous representatives to attend meetings with allies in Canada and the United States as well as hearings at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.