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By Mina Remy
February 18th, 2015
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.
By Sara Mersha
February 5th, 2015
Is it possible to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinians’ human rights, and thus take steps to end at least some of the worst aspects of the Israeli occupation, through the arena of international law? That’s a question that could be answered in the coming years.
On January 16, 2015, the International Criminal Court launched a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is an initial inquiry, after which point the ICC could decide whether or not to take up a full investigation.
Last week we got word that settlers had destroyed hundreds of olive trees very near to the area in the Southern Hebron Hills where Grassroots International’s delegation to Palestine harvested olives in October. Similar acts of violence by settlers are a reality that Palestinian farmers face day in and day out throughout the occupied Palestinian territories and a painful reminder of the impact of the settlers on stolen land.
The toxic oil spill in eastern Montana oozed onto the land of one of Grassroots International’s partners and a fierce voice for food sovereignty and environmental justice. Now her denunciations of the gluttonous crude industry and on behalf of small farmers and the environment are reaching far and wide, but at a terrible price.
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
Think of the seed as the first link of the food chain. If this prime component is compromised, the chain becomes untenable. What’s more, if corporate interests control seeds, we are all subjugated to their agenda at every subsequent link of the chain. In fact, the preponderance of GMO and copyrighted seeds from agribusiness laboratories and mono-cropped fields already determine to a frightening degree the foods we can buy and eat. To counter these billion dollar agro-corporate interests, seed sovereignty activists have sought strength in their greatest resources — their knowledge and collective power.
Five years ago on this day, a colossal shifting of the ground brought Haiti to its knees. On January 12, 2010 the island nation was devastated by the trembling. 0ver 300,000 people were killed according to Haitian government statistics, but the truth is that nobody knows how many were killed that day. Port-au-Prince was left devastated and in ruin. Today is a day to remember and mourn the people who were killed. It is also a day to reflect on how the devastation came to be so great, what happened afterward, and where Haiti is today.
The hulking Separation Wall cuts Abu Nidal off from his Palestinian Village. He lives in the home he built in 1974. Israel began to build a settlement on the land just four years later and, since, has steadily surrounded Abu Nidal’s small house with towering barriers and illegal housing projects. At one point he had a cafeteria on the road. Israel demolished it. He had a storage facility for his farming equipment. Israel destroyed it 10 times. He had a green house. Israel bulldozed it.
I visited Abu Nidal with one of Grassroots International’s partners, the Stop the Wall Campaign. His story remains with me, feeding outrage at the atrocities he endures and hope for the ongoing resistance to land grabs.
Geraldo de Matos Barbosa and Maria Elena each had a dream when they joined the Landless Workers Movement (MST) 13 years ago. The couple has been part of the movement in Maranhão, Brazil including six years living in a dusty encampment, enduing six violent evictions before finally securing title to the land.
The process of shifting from an encampment (without buildings, electricity and sometimes even water) to a settlement helped make both their dreams come true. Grasssroots International's support for land rights in Brazil, including with the MST, provides much-needed solidarity and funding for the movement, and for the apsirations of the courageous individuals putting themselves on the front lines of the struggle.
On this International Migrants Day (December 18), Grassroots International pays tribute to the courage and dedication of many of our partners and allies, internationally and in the U.S., who are working at the intersection of migrant justice and resource rights. One of these partners is Carlos Marentes, Sr., director of Centro De Los Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos (the Border Agricultural Workers Center) in El Paso, Texas. A close Grassroots International partner and co-coordinator of Via Campesina North America.