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By Christopher Caroll
February 24th, 2015
Humanity cannot solve its problems with one hand effectively tied behind its back. Yet, given the state of women’s rights globally, this is metaphorically the case. One of the guiding principles of Grassroots International's work is the recognition and support of women’s agency in the struggle for justice and liberation – not just to advance women’s leadership (though that is a goal) but also because women’s engagement and leadership are necessary to push us all forward.
By Claire Gilbert
February 23rd, 2015
In the United States we’ve spent months zeroing in on the reality of police brutality against Black people. We’ve been grateful to see and take part in a growing movement that addresses structural racism—pointing out that Black people are disproportionately more likely to die at the hands of police, face institutional racism, and breathe more polluted air.
In the Black nation of Haiti, too, there has been a systematic dismissal of the value of Black lives and US policy has been deeply implicated in interventions that slaughter the interests of Haiti’s people in favor of a narrow elite.
Contrary to Western assertions, Africa is not a blank slate.
Africans have a long history of vibrant culture, politics, economics and agriculture. However, since Europe’s first encounter with Africa through present day, international “decisionmakers” have approached the African continent as though it was devoid of people along with history. Africa is imagined out of context, and those projections become the basis for policy.
In our times, the battle for Africa is being waged one plot of agricultural land at a time. Control of Africa’s food system is being wrested away from peasant farmers and being turned over to agribusinesses such as Monsanto under the guise of agricultural development.
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
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.