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By Carol Schachet
January 21st, 2015
The toxic oil spill in eastern Montana oozed onto the land of one of Grassroots International’s partners and a fierce voice for food sovereignty and environmental justice. Now her denunciations of the gluttonous crude industry and on behalf of small farmers and the environment are reaching far and wide, but at a terrible price.
Grassroots International and our global partners are leading the way in developing sustainable solutions to the biggest challenges facing our world. From farming cooperatives and seed banks, to passing laws that protect ancestral lands and defending the human right to land, water, and food, together we take on big struggles and win important gains. Below are just some of the successes achieved in 2014 with support from Grassroots International, standing up to challenge poverty, climate disruption and human rights abuses.
Moving Towards an International Declaration on the Rights of Peasants
By Christopher Carroll
January 14th, 2015
Think of the seed as the first link of the food chain. If this prime component is compromised, the chain becomes untenable. What’s more, if corporate interests control seeds, we are all subjugated to their agenda at every subsequent link of the chain. In fact, the preponderance of GMO and copyrighted seeds from agribusiness laboratories and mono-cropped fields already determine to a frightening degree the foods we can buy and eat. To counter these billion dollar agro-corporate interests, seed sovereignty activists have sought strength in their greatest resources — their knowledge and collective power.
Below is part one of a three-part blog series highlighting the Brazil Agroecology Learning Exchange. Grassroots movement leaders and small farmer organizations sent representatives [24 people from 6 countries] to join Grassroots International staff in Goias, Brazil to participate in the eight-day exchange. The first of our series of blogs unpacks the phrase “Agroecology Learning Exchange” and why it is essential to creating a more sustainable food system.
Geraldo de Matos Barbosa and Maria Elena each had a dream when they joined the Landless Workers Movement (MST) 13 years ago. The couple has been part of the movement in Maranhão, Brazil including six years living in a dusty encampment, enduing six violent evictions before finally securing title to the land.
The process of shifting from an encampment (without buildings, electricity and sometimes even water) to a settlement helped make both their dreams come true. Grasssroots International's support for land rights in Brazil, including with the MST, provides much-needed solidarity and funding for the movement, and for the apsirations of the courageous individuals putting themselves on the front lines of the struggle.
On this International Migrants Day (December 18), Grassroots International pays tribute to the courage and dedication of many of our partners and allies, internationally and in the U.S., who are working at the intersection of migrant justice and resource rights. One of these partners is Carlos Marentes, Sr., director of Centro De Los Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos (the Border Agricultural Workers Center) in El Paso, Texas. A close Grassroots International partner and co-coordinator of Via Campesina North America.
Honduras is the country with the highest level of homicide of any nation not at war, where government violence and human rights abuses have almost total impunity. It is also the country contributing most of the flood of children who have been recently forced to migrate to the US, because of that violence and by poverty – both, in part, a legacy of US policy in the region.
Yet something else is afoot. A fierce social movement, composed of many sectors, is pushing back to protect democracy, lives, and political rights. Indigenous peoples, including Garifuna, Lenca, Pech, Miskito, Maya Chortí, and Tolupan, are asserting their human right to autonomy, territory, and cultural survival.
Since coming to power in 2011, the administration of President Martelly has failed to hold elections for senate seats, the chamber of deputies, and local. Fed up with inactivity, the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH) renewed calls for elections in Haiti, joining other human rights organizations throughout the nation.
I joined the chants of “Black Lives Matter” last night, together with other staff of Grassroots International and several thousand other Bostonians, marching to the steps of the State House. This was my first demonstration since I came onboard as Executive Director of Grassroots International (two days ago!) and solidified the local-global links that are so central to this work.
For me, and for so many others who care about human rights and social justice, the issue goes far beyond Michael Brown or Eric Garner or a litany of other names on a case-by-case basis. The issue is the systemic devaluing of some lives and the protection of others in such a way that benefits some and subjugates others.
Grassroots international joins with our partners at the Via Campesina in denouncing violence of all kinds against women -- including personal and structural. No woman should fear to live in her home, be barred from owning the land she farms or experieince barriers to full livelihood and dignity.