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By Saulo Araujo
July 10th, 2008
Members of Grassroots International's partner La Via Campesina -- an international network of peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists, women, and youth -- gathered in late June in Jakarta, Indonesia to defend their right to exist, and called for a UN Convention on the Rights of Peasants. (Below, see their final declaration)
Under intense threat from the expansion of agro-fuels in South America and Indonesia, militarization in Colombia and South Korea, and increasing food prices, rural families are voicing a predicament that affects all communities.
By Frei Betto
July 10th, 2008
In late June, Grassroots partner, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) made public a document they got a hold of that showed the intention of the Rio Grande do Sul state Public Ministry to "dissolve" the MST. The document is based on a meeting, on December 3, 2007, during which the state Public Ministry decided: to outlaw any mobilization of landless workers, including marches and walks, to intervene in settlement schools, to criminalize leaders and members, and to "deactivate" all the encampments in Rio Grande do Sul.
The tidal wave of American interest in local, sustainable agriculture, and the waves of protest around the world over staggering food prices, seem to have washed over the heads of most members of Congress without them even noticing. The 2008 Farm Bill proves it.
June 24th, 2008
Partner press release from Via Campesina
About 1000 small farmers of the International movement Via Campesina, men and women from 25 different countries and 12 Indonesian provinces gathered today in Jakarta to claim the right to farm their land, the right to eat and to feed their families and communities.
They opened a five-day International Conference on Peasant Rights aiming at attracting world attention to the fate of small producers. Peasants represent almost half of the world population and are the backbone of the food system. However, their rights are systematically violated.
Friends and supporters of Grassroots International may be familiar with Hesperian Foundation, a non-profit publisher of community health education materials, best known for Where There Is No Doctor, recognized by WHO as "the most widely-used health manual in the world." With this month's publication of the long-anticipated A Community Guide to Environmental Health, Hesperian celebrates more than just the release of another book. It allows us all to celebrate and learn from the myriad ways in which people at the grassroots can and do take control over their own environmental health.
International representatives of small farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, pastoralists and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) have expressed their disappointment with the poor outcome of the High Level Conference on World Food Security in Rome. "The final declaration will not fill any plate. The recommendations for more liberalisation would lead to more violations of the right to food", criticised Maryam Rahmanian from the Iranian organisation CENESTA. During the official conference, the social movements held their own Forum "Terra Preta" ("black earth") to voice their demands to realize food sovereignty and the right to food of the millions of hungry people.
Our partners in Guatemala have told us: the current food crisis will continue unless we guarantee the land, water and seeds rights of communities necessary to grow food. The same message is being echoed in Brazil, Mexico and many neighborhoods in the U.S.
In two separate statements, Guatemala's National Peasant and Indigenous Coordination (CONIC) and Brazil's Small Producers Movement (MPA) put forth food sovereignty as a solution to the crisis: the right of communities to produce food for local markets and for consumers to have access to local healthy foods. Both organizations denounce the expansion of industrial agriculture and growing control of agribusinesses for contributing to the hunger of urban and rural communities.
Rome, Italy, 3 June 2008
Watch the video of the action in Rome!
Farmer and civil society leaders carrying out a peaceful action today in Rome, Italy at the FAO Summit on the Food Crisis were forcefully removed from the premises. At around 1:30pm farmers and representatives of civil society organisations staged an action at the press room to deliver a message that millions of additional people are joining the ranks of the hungry as the corporations that control the global food system are making record profits.
Rome, June 1, 2008.
On the eve of the High Level Conference on World Food Security in Rome, farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have declared a People's State of Emergency.
"Governments and intergovernmental organisations must immediately stop any policies, which lead to violations of the human right to food", says Maryam Rahmanian of CENESTA, Iran. "Free trade policies have seriously damaged the food system over time, leading to the food crisis that we're facing today". Parallel to the official conference, civil society organisations are holding a five day Forum to voice their demands on how to overcome the crisis.
Food Riots, Food Rights, a Fast, and a Corporate Agribusiness Campaign: A Global People's State of Emergency Declared!
Food Riots and a Fast
I have had the privilege of accompanying some of the largest and most dynamic social movements in Latin America over the course of my work at Grassroots International. In early 2001, we struggled with how to share the news of the agrarian reform and land rights struggles of our partners in Brazil and other Latin American and Caribbean countries in ways that would resonate with folks here in the United States. What we came up with back then was to connect land rights with food rights.
More recently the right to food has been the daily bread of the news media as the sharp increase in food prices have resulted in food riots in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In the US, the working poor are suffering hunger in silent resignation.