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By Lydia Simas
January 15th, 2015
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.
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.
Peasant groups from around the world joined an international agroecology learning exchange in Goiás, Brazil.
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.
10 Photos for International Human Rights Day: A Tribute to International Social Movements for Resource Rights
December 10 is celebrated around the world as International Human Rights Day. On this day, Grassroots International is honored to call special attention to the social movements that are on the frontlines of the struggle for resource rights – the human rights to land and water, as well as food sovereignty and climate justice. We have much to celebrate, with several major successes that social movements have achieved in the struggle for resource rights over recent years. At the same time, over the past year, we have been heartbroken as we’ve lost many people who have been courageously defending resource in each of Grassroots International’s program areas. The photos and stories below are just a small sample of some of these movements and human rights defenders.
What could be more routine than saving seeds from one season to the next? After all, that is how we grow crops on our farms and in our gardens. Yet from Guatemala to Ghana, from Mozambique to Malaysia, this basic practice is being turned into a criminal offence, so that half a dozen large multinational corporations can turn seeds into private property and make money from them.
But people are fighting back and in several countries popular mobilisations are already forcing governments to put seed privatisation plans on hold.
Farmers have worked the rugged land in Western Africa for generations, moving seasonally from field to forest for food and livelihood. While life was never easy, the community worked together, in harmony with their surroundings, to provide for themselves and their neighbors.
All that changed when the government planted a virtual “For Lease” sign on the land. China and other buyers grabbed it up, quickly draining the land of nutrients with vast fields of monocrops for export.
This is the plight of many farmers across the Global South. Massive land grabs – combined with the influx of genetically modified seeds under the banner of the “Green Revolution” – come with empty promises of increased agricultural productivity and the end of hunger.
On October 15, 2014 Ali Abd El Rahman accepted the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize on behalf of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). UAWC shares the prize with Community to Community Development/Comunidad a Comunidad (C2C) of Bellingham, Washington.
UAWC is a Grassroots International partner and has been a leading force for the promotion of food sovereignty (not just food security) in Gaza and the West Bank.