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By Saulo Araujo
January 22nd, 2009
The Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) - a longtime partner of Grassroots International based in Mexico - denounced a recently conducted study in the Zapotec region by U.S. geography scholar Peter Herlihy. Prof. Herlihy failed to mention that he received funding from the Foreign Military Studies Office of the U.S. Armed Forces. The failure to obtain full, free and prior informed consent is a violation of the rights of indigenous communities as codified in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations in 2007. In addition, UNOSJO fears that this in-depth geographical mapping of indigenous communities may be used in some harmful manner by the military.
By Lindsay Shade
December 4th, 2008
Families in Campeche, Mexico are being pushed to the edge of desperation. Privatization schemes and mega-projects - like the construction of large hydroelectric dams and massive agrofuels plantations - threaten their access to basic food and water resources. Now, simply for opposing the policies that jeopardize their livelihoods, activists face increasing repression and unjust prosecution, often without access to legal resources for their defense. Please lend your voice now to call on Mexican authorities to stop the unjust prosecution and repression of resource rights activists.
For several years Grassroots International has had a collegial relationship with Carlos Marentes of the Sin Fronteras Border Agricultural Workers Project in El Paso, Texas. Carlos is also a leader of the Via Campesina - North American Region and chair of the Via Campesina's international commission on Migrations and Rural Workers. The Via Campesina understands that most migration is a consequence of the corporate-led global trade model that has exacerbated rural impoverishment in many already poor countries.
On November 9, 1989, the German people knocked down the Berlin Wall.
The Berlin Wall had been erected on August 13, 1961 dividing the people of Berlin into two sectors. One sector was controlled by the US and its allies, and the other was controlled by the Soviet Union. German people were not free to cross from one sector to another. Families and friends were separated by the wall for 28 years. During this period of time, about 5,000 escape attempts were made to reunite with relatives, friends or to seek better economic opportunities. Nearly 300 people died attempting to cross the wall.
Grassroots International would like to salute Jesus León Santos, the leader of a democratic, farmer-to-farmer network in Oaxaca, Mexico, for winning the 2008 Goldman Environmental Prize – one of the most esteemed awards in the global environmental movement.
How free trade destroys local economies, hurts small farmers and causes massive waves of migration
“There used to be one bus a day leaving this area (Esquintla, Chiapas) heading north. Now, four buses a day go to the border…. And each is packed with our young boys. Today, with the conditions the way they are, youth have become our biggest export.” Miguel Angel Barrios Bravo, president of a coffee co-operative affiliated with FIECH, the Indigenous Ecological Federation of Chiapas, one of Equal Exchange’s trading partners.
Suddenly everyone’s talking about local: “Local is the new organic,” we’re told. Farmer’s markets are springing up in food co-operative and church parking lots and on Main Streets throughout the country. More people are joining CSA’s (community supported agriculture) and choosing locally grown products in their grocery stores. And as this trend continues, more and more consumers are starting to ask hard questions about where their food comes from and how it’s grown, who are the people growing it and under what conditions, and equally important of course, who’s making the decisions that control our food choices and who’s making the profits from those purchases?
Driving their tractors and greeting supporters along the way, a group of Mexican farmers recently traveled 1,200 miles over 14 days, protesting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and demanding that the agricultural section of NAFTA be renegotiated.
Click here for a great photo of the over 200,000 strong march and an article in Spanish from La Jornada.
In a promising development for North American workers, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Ohio, recently introduced legislation that would require the U.S. to renegotiate NAFTA. The goal of the legislation is to address the environmental harm, decrease in jobs and wages, and other social and economic problems caused by the failed trade agreement.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Accountability Act (H.R. 4329) would require the Executive Branch of the U.S. government to certify that certain benchmarks have been met by the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (the countries covered under the agreement). Such benchmarks include increased U.S. domestic manufacturing, stronger health and environmental standards, and the guarantee of Mexican democracy.
Sin maíz no hay país is the resounding clarion call given by Grassroots International’s Mexican partners, grantees and their allies in rolling out the National Campaign in Defense of Food Sovereignty and the Revitalization of Rural Mexico.
Corn is indigenous to Mexico, and the alliance of peasant, farm worker, indigenous peoples, fisher, consumer, environmental and human rights groups and other organizations that came together to declare sin maíz no hay país are making the point that corn is intrinsically tied to the very idea and identity of Mexico.