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By Jovanna Garcia Soto
May 22nd, 2015
Outraged by a pervasive corruption scandal that implicates top government officials, tens of thousands of Guatemalans filled the streets of the capital for their fourth week to demand the resignation of President Perez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti. The nonviolent protestors already won the second of those resignations when Baldetti stepped down after being implicated in a massive Tax Administration corruption scandal. And yesterday, Ministers of the Interior, Environment and Security also resigned in the wake of the scandal.
By Sara Mersha
May 22nd, 2015
It is rainy season in Haiti – or at least it is supposed to be rainy season. But the rains didn't come in April, and it has only rained a few times in May. All the rice seeds they saved up to buy, and all the time they took to plant the seeds and care for the plants – it's all gone. They lost them because the rains haven't come, and the government never finished the irrigation project it had promised them. But the bigger reason is climate disruption.
With women at home, agrarian reform will not advance! Those words from Esperanza Cardona, a powerful grassroots leader from Honduras, kicked off a recent Grassroots International event lifting up the Global Campaign to End Violence Against Women.
The video below includes Esperanza's presentation (beginning at 6:20), which follows her introduction by Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of Grassroots International.
Grassroots International recently participated in the 2015 Just Giving Conference sponsored by EDGE Funders Alliance. Entitled “Better. Not More: Towards a Just Transition,” the conference worked to create a space within philanthropy to explore the deeper philosophical ideas that animate contemporary politics, economy, and culture. Within this space, participants were encouraged to consider four goals for the transition to a just economy: 1) Decommodify nature; 2) Reimagine work; 3) Liberate knowledge; and 4) Democratize wealth.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of getting to spend time with Maria da Graça Samo and Helena Wong while they were in town for a Grassroots International community event. Graça (from Mozambique) is the International Coordinator of the World March of Women, and Helena is the National Organizer for the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ).
People from community organizations, immigrant groups, longtime Grassroots supporters and folks wanting to connect local social justice work with international movements filled the room on Monday night. On the floor at the center of a big circle of filled chairs was an arrangement of candles, flowers, seeds, soil and flags representing the vibrant social movements present in the room, both from the local Boston area and from as far as Mozambique and Nicaragua. We were all together to celebrate the upcoming International Day of Peasants Struggle (April 17), to hear two powerful women speak about international movements for peasants’ and women’s rights, and to make local-global links.
Grassroots International is hard at work across the U.S. and beyond putting issues such as climate justice, food sovereignty, resource rights, Palestine, women’s leadership—even when they are controversial or unpopular—into the limelight.
Spreading the word is a key strategy we use to advance resource rights, particularly when it comes to connecting our Global South partners to sources of solidarity, funding and support, and making changes in policies here in the U.S. We do more than give grants; we build solidarity right here in the U.S. for our partners and their social movements. It is also a key reason why funders and donors choose Grassroots International as a vehicle to support them.
In August, five young men showed up at Soul Fire Farm, a sustainable farm near Albany, New York, where I work as educator and food justice coordinator. It was the first day of a new restorative justice program, in partnership with the county’s Department of Law. The teens had been convicted of theft, and, as an alternative to incarceration, chose this opportunity to earn money to pay back their victims while gaining farm skills. They looked wary and unprepared, with gleaming sneakers and averted eyes.
“I basically expected it to be like slavery, but it would be better than jail,” said a young man named Asan. “It was different though. We got paid and we got to bring food home. The farmers there are black like us, which I did not expect.
Grassroots International celebrates the courageous work of frontline women defending the human rights of peasant and indigenous women around the world. One of these women is Yazmín López, a national coordinator for the Council for the Integral Development of the Peasant Woman (CODIMCA). A partner of Grassroots International, CODIMCA is the lead organization for the Women’s Regional Commission of La Vía Campesina–Central America, and one of the first peasant women-led organizations formed in Honduras with the explicit objective of reclaiming women’s land rights. Below is an excerpt of my interview with Yazmín.
What inspires you to work for women’s rights in Honduras?
International Women’s Day (March 8) celebrates the power and struggle of women all over the world. There are so many stories of women’s strength, inspiration and bold leadership in the work of our partners and grantees. Eighty-eight percent of the groups that Grassroots International supports work to promote women’s rights. Here are just some of the women-led projects that we have supported over the past year.