By Saulo Araujo
March 19th, 2013
Roughly the size of New Jersey, Belize is one of the smallest countries in Central America. The country is also in the epicenter of the Mayan territory. More than half of Belize’s population of 300,000 are Mayan indigenous and Afro-descendants, known as Garifunas.
By Claire Gilbert
March 15th, 2013
“The Conquistadors came and they subjugated us and they killed us, but they couldn’t make us disappear because we always had corn. Through corn, we survived and we kept our feet in our territories. With corn at the center of our homes we kept our languages, kept writing our histories. We continued as villages, as families, as workers, as fighters, as a community with our own government, because we had and because we have corn. Now, with the invasion of genetically modified corn they are trying to throw a mortal blow at our existence, the blow that they have not been able to throw in 500 years.”
--The Organizations and Communities of the Network in Defense of Maize (Translated from Spanish from the article El maíz, corazón de la esperanza de los pueblos—Corn, heart or the hope of the village—by Veronica Villa of the Red Maiz—Network in Defense of Corn)
Last month, Honduras passed legislation to allow the construction of charter cities in the ancestral land of Afro-descendant Garifunas and peasant communities.
Below is a letter from the National Union of Autonomous Regional Peasant Organizations (UNORCA) to officials in Mexico. UNORCA members began a hunger strike last week to prevent Monsanto from large-scale planting of genetically modified corn. They have called for international support in their efforts to protect their the biodiversity of this essential seed and staple of their lives.
Grassroots International supports hands-on solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges: hunger, violations of human rights, climate change and environmental degradation, and economic disparity. During the last year, Grassroots International and our global partners and allies – including small farmers, indigenous peoples and human rights activists – achieved some victories in their struggle to secure the human right to land, water and food for all. Below are just some of the highlights.
Created in 1978, the Peasant Unity Committee (CUC) was the first national organization formed by peasants and indigenous people in Guatemala. CUC is represented in over 200 communities and 6 micro-regions of the country. The organization is dedicated to rights to land, water and food sovereignty in impoverished peasant communities in Guatemala. Its approach includes:
The National Confederation of Peasant Organizations (CNTC) was formed on January 21, 1985 as part of a unifying strategy of five peasant organizations in Honduras. A self-identified peasant organization CNTC advocates for rural development policies that address the social, cultural and economic rights of peasant families. To accomplish that goal, CNTC supports the leadership development of peasants in decision-making spaces, and establishes strategic alliances at national and international levels with these objectives:
The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending the rights of Garifuna peoples in Honduras. Garifuna peoples are Afro-descendent and indigenous communities who have successfully resisted various threats – from slavery and colonialism, to current-day pressures of neoliberalism. OFRANEH’s work to defend Garifunas’ land and territorial rights is part of that long struggle for the human rights of Afro-descendent indigenous populations.