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By Carol Schachet
September 24th, 2012
If Walmart really tried, I doubt they could have picked a slogan more completely counter to the wisdom, values and insights of global movements of small farmers and indigenous peoples.
The difference between "Live better" (Walmart's latest slogan) and "living well" (the organizing principle of small farmers around the world) means the difference between personal success and community contentment.
And whereas Walmart wants to “Save money,” indigenous and peasant groups in the Global South want to save the planet through grassroots alternatives to corporate globalization.
The United States is facing its worst drought in nearly 50 years. Not alone in its extreme weather, parts of Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia (especially India) and South America are in the same boat. And while the drought certainly affects people in these nations directly, the impact may be felt as much – if not more – in the small Caribbean nation of Haiti, for reasons as complex and numerous as import-dependent food systems, lack of agricultural investment, and just plain bad luck and timing (from earthquakes to floods to global climate disruption).
By Saulo Araujo
July 20th, 2012
For Haitian peasants July 23, 1986, will always be remembered with sadness and renewed conviction. On that day at least 139 peasants were killed in Jean-Rabel, located in the Northwest of the country, by Tonton Macoutes following orders from local landowners. Most of the peasants killed were advocating for land reform by contesting local landowners’ claims to State-owned land. The massacre took place at a turbulent time in Haitian history, a mere few months after a popular struggle led to Jean-Claude Duvalier’s ouster, which in turn led to a power vacuum immediately filled by a bloody military junta. The junta remained in place until the democratic election of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991.
In rural areas like Seu Lazaro’s community in the state of Goiás, Brazil, vendors of genetically modified seeds used to drop by with wide smiles and black suitcases full of samples and colorful catalogues. Their dusty cars, parked in the middle of the road, are a map of their sales route across miles of unpaved, bumpy roads. According to Seu Lazaro, these vendors (often trained agronomists) go from house to house trying to convince peasant farmers to buy seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides by promising lush crops and a good return in the investment.
Those promises convinced Seu Lazaro’s father to use GM seeds, who then convinced him.
In anticipation of World Environment Day today, June 5, 2012, Haiti’s Minister of Environment, Joseph Ronald Toussaint, and the Martelly government proclaimed June Environment Month in Haiti. The theme for this year’s month-long celebration is, “A Green Economy for an Environmentally Viable, Sustainable, and Just Haitian Society.” As part of Environment Month, a member of the ministry’s cabinet indicated that the ministry would like to hold a general State of the Environment Conference with stakeholders on June 7-8, 2012.
The tiny motorboat’s engine coughs a couple of miles offshore and whirls to a stop. Gazing out over the aquamarine Mediterranean waters, I feel high from the fumes of cheap Egyptian diesel and the smell of sea salt. “Let’s get in,” says Mahfouz Kabariti, a fisherman, stripping down to swim trunks and diving overboard. A Palestinian friend who is a medical student also came along for the ride. We eye each other cautiously. She winks, and we both jump in the water, fully dressed, our long pants weighing us down. It’s a perfect Friday afternoon. From out here, the ubiquitous bullet holes in buildings are invisible and Gaza City looks like a coastal resort town.