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By Nikhil Aziz
June 12th, 2013
Our Palestinian partners frequently tell us: “To stay – and, frankly, to exist – is to resist.” I heard this same message during the 3rd International Youth Assembly of La Via Campesina (LVC). In a world where the ability to live a dignified life as a small farmer is increasingly challenging whether in Iowa or Indonesia the act of staying, and in some cases “going back” to the land is an act of resistance and courage.
June 11th, 2013
By Antonio Roman-Alcalá
May 31st, 2013
In the article below, Antonio Roman-Alcalá discusses what food sovereignty is, how it differs from food security and how the food movement is shifting the conversation toward sovereignty. Along with our partner the Via Campesina—which pioneered the concept of food sovereignty in 1996—Grassroots International has been advocating this alternative model around the world. As explained in the recent Nyeleni newsletter,
Food sovereignty is different from food security in both approach and politics. Food security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations. Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution and consumption, social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle hunger and poverty and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It advocates trade and investment that serve the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community control of productive resources; agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale producers; agro-ecology; biodiversity; local knowledge; the rights of peasants, women, indigenous peoples and workers; social protection and climate justice.
Grassroots International nominated one of their Brazilian partners, the Movement of People Affected by Dams, to receive the annual award of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. The award honors courageous and innovative individuals for their activism. If selected, this award would not only reinforce MAB’s historic struggle to protect human rights and support those defending communities impacted by massive water projects; it would also provide monetary compensation and international recognition.
In fact, the nomination itself has already provided a boost to MAB’s reputation and a platform from which to raise the voices of those impacted by dams and hydro-electric projects.
Although Grassroots International does not support the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Bahia state, through our support to the MST at the national level and also our partner Rede Social (the Network for Social Justice & Human Rights) we are able to have an impact on thousands of landless families in Brazil. Those families and the nearly 300 in Bahia who, after 20 years, recently won their rights to land and a dignified livelihood, needed political support at the national level, lawyers to oversee their cases and defend them, training to document cases of violence and threats against their struggle, support for the movement as a whole. Resources they would not have had without Grassroots. This is solidarity not charity.
On this Earth Day, I’m inspired to share a story of the Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC). One of Grassroots International’s US allies, BMWC organizes in indigenous communities, going up against powerful corporate interests in the fossil fuel industry, and engaging in movement building toward a vision for a transition to an economically and ecologically just society.
Cicero Guedes, a former sugar cane cutter turned land rights activist, worked in Campo dos Goytacazes, a settlement in Brazil. There he organized with the Landless Workers Movement (MST) to help families achieve what he had received: legal claim to land as part of Brazil’s agrarian reform movement.
For his tireless work, Cicero was murdered, shot more than a dozen times while he rode his bicycle to the fields. His assassination seemed intended to send a message to other would-be land rights activists: organize and you will pay the ultimate price.
Thousands of small farmers joined students, activists, unionists , human rights advocates and others at the World Social Forum in Tunisia last week. Among the many demonstrations and calls for action, the plea for seed sovereignty resonated with the peasant organizers who have seen their lands and livelihoods threatened by the “Green Revolution” and the incursion of industrial agriculture.
For 37 years, March 30 has been celebrated as Palestinian Land Day, a day of action for land rights. On this date in 1976, Palestinians inside Israel mobilized to protest Israel’s plans to take 2,000 hectares of land from Palestinian communities in Galilee. Six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces, and hundreds more were injured and arrested. Though the repression was severe, people around world celebrate this date as an important moment in history, bringing Palestinians together in a common struggle for their rights to land wherever they live.
The real costs of the industrial food system on people’s lives and the planet are as extensive as they are hidden. The article below by long-time Grassroots International friends, Beverley Bell and Tory Field of Other Worlds, offers a thought-provoking summary of those costs—all of which challenge small farmers in the Global South on a daily basis.
The True Costs of Industrialized Food