By Nikhil Aziz
July 2nd, 2009
Last April my colleague Saulo Araujo (Program Coordinator for Brazil & Mesoamerica) and I visited Honduras. What impressed us the most was the strength and vibrancy of social movements, like our partners the Via Campesina (Central America) and COCOCH (the Honduran Coordinating Council of Peasant Organizations), and our allies like COPINH (Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras) and OFRANEH (Honduran Black Fraternal Organization). And especially the strong and resilient women in the forefront of struggle. Afro-Hondurans like Leoncia and Wendy, Lencas like Pasqualita, and Mestizo women like Analina and Berta
At a candidates forum convened by the Via every single presidential candidate attended.
By Lindsay Shade
June 30th, 2009
Social movement leaders in Honduras, including members of Grassroots International's partner, La Via Campesina, fear for their lives, as tens of thousands have gathered to protest Sunday's coup d'etat against President Jose Manuel "Mel" Zelaya Rosales.
Please call on the Honduran Embassy to demand that the congress and military respect and guarantee the human rights of all Hondurans and reinstate the democratically elected president, Mel Zelaya.
Saulo and I traveled with our partner Rafael Alegria of the Via Campesina and COCOCH (Honduran Coordinating Council of Campesino Organizations), about an hour northeast of Honduras' capital Tegucigalpa, near the town of Comayagua, to meet Analina Claros, one of the leaders of the Nueve Noviembre (November 9th) settlement, and her neighbors. This is what she shared with us over a wonderful homecooked stew of chicken and vegetables and freshly made corn tortillas, all grown and raised in their settlement:
My colleague Saulo Araujo and I were recently in Guatemala visiting our partner CONIC (National Coordination of Indigenous Peoples & Campesinos). CONIC's staff took us to visit a local community they have been working with in the village of Cocorval, in the Department of Chimaltenango, over an hour's drive from Guatemala City on a "chicken bus."
The surge in solidarity with Palestinian people in Gaza is still strong. And I hope it will never wind down. My inbox is flooded with op-eds and solidarity messages from all over Latin America. Indigenous communities from Mexico speak about the similarities between the unjust occupation of a sovereign territory and their situation as peoples whose right to land is ignored. Messages from Brazil call on people to increase support to Palestinian farmers.
Sixty years after the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we at Grassroots International recognize that more often than not the reality has failed the vision put forth in that document. Our commitment to defending land, water, and food as the most basic of human rights is reflected throughout the 30-article treaty. Globally, people in all corners of the world currently experience a quadruple crisis that includes food, finance, energy, and the environment. From Latin America to the Middle East, our partners and allies are facing serious threats to their lives and livelihoods. Policies and actions of governments and corporations represent the grave violations of the core principles of the treat
"Life in Silin community in Honduras is coming back to normal," said Wendy Cruz, an advisor for Via Campesina Central America based in Honduras. In a telephone call yesterday, Cruz expressed gratitude for the prompt actions taken by allies: "Thanks for your support and solidarity. We received hundreds of emails and calls from friends worldwide. Your rapid response and caring gives strength to continue our struggle for land rights in Honduras."
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.
They were peacefully protesting water privatization in a corner of their home country, El Salvador -- until the Salvadoran government arrested them and labeled them "terrorists."
Now, the 13 protestors from Suchitoto are free, following a recent decision by El Salvador's attorney general to drop the terrorism charges. Prosecutors were unable to substantiate the charges under the "Special Law Against Acts of Terrorism" -- a 2006 law that the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador strongly supported. (The ruling party in El Salvador is a close ally of the U.S.)
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.