By Saulo Araujo
July 26th, 2010
Nestled between Haiti’s turquoise Caribbean waters and the foothills of the northern mountains, is a large plot of land close to the town of Limonade. Here at the height of planting season a group of peasants is hard at work. Claudelle Sensmyr, 36, quietly sprinkles handfuls of seeds down row after row of prepped soil. "I just started farming a few months ago," she told me, brushing off her hands and looking up. "I’m from Port-au-Prince," she added shyly and then motioned to the other farmers, "Many of us are."
After tireless campaigning by the indigenous people of Guatemala and international solidarity organizations, including Grassroots International, the Goldcorp Marlin Mine has been ordered to shut by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. This is a huge victory for local Mayan residents who have fought for the past six years to hold Goldcorp accountable for appalling social and environmental problems caused by the mine. Grassroots International supported their struggle for justice by funding indigenous representatives to attend meetings with allies in Canada and the United States as well as hearings at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Below is a blog from our colleague Stephen Bartlett of Agricultural Missions entitled “Praying with our Feet Journal.” Along with 1,000 others, he participated in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Farmworker Freedom March, a three-day trek of 25 miles ending in Lakeland, FL where Publix supermarket chain corporate headquarters is located. The farmworkers are calling on Publix to pay them a penny more for every pound of tomatoes they pick, which would nearly double their meager wages. CIW and other marchers are also asking Publix to sign onto a code of conduct which would prevent the from buying tomatoes from any growers that did not meet certain basic working conditions.
Frankly, a lot! Here's just three factoids to think about (and there are many more)
• One out of 6 people globally does not have access to clean water.
• Nearly half the world’s population — that’s 2.5 billion people — does not have access to basic sanitation facilities.
• Large-scale corporate agricultural production consumes 70% of the world’s fresh water.
You see, for us at Grassroots International water is a political lens through which we can see the injustice in the world: who has it, who controls it, who profits from it; and who never has enough, and doesn’t control nor profit from it
By Salena Tramel
March 19th, 2010
Last August, I stood in Haiti’s Artibonite valley with several peasant organizers and looked out at the mountains leading up to the Central Plateau. The older leaders in the group explained in depth how green the mountains once were, while the younger organizers and I listened in amazement. The tropical lime forests they described from their past were the antithesis of the sandy naked slopes we saw in the distance.
Some say that the devastating earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 230,000 and displaced more than a million people has left Haiti with a "blank slate."
Cultures in different parts of our planet have long held rivers to be life-giving. Early human civilizations are even known by their connection to the river systems whose banks they arose from like the Indus-Ganga, the Nile and the Yangtze Kiang-Huang He. But today human actions and inaction have literally throttled our rivers through industrial pollution, mega dams, diversification, deforestation and the list goes on.... But people are fighting back -- especially those most directly impacted. In my home country India, numerous popular movements have emerged like the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA-Save the Narmada Movement) and the Ganga Mukti Andolan (GMA-Free the Ganga Movement).
We plant but we can’t produce or market. We plant but we have no food to eat. We want agriculture to improve so our country can live and so we peasants can live, too.
(Rilo Petit-homme, peasant organizer from St. Marc, Haiti)
What would it take to transform Haiti’s economy such that its role in the global economy is no longer that of providing cheap labor for sweatshops? What would it take for hunger to no longer be the norm, for the country no longer to depend on imports and hand-outs, and for Port-au-Prince’s slums no longer to contain 85% of the city’s residents?
The Haitian government has been largely silent since the January 12 earthquake. Publicly, that is. Who knows what officials are saying behind closed doors to international governments and other donors? Citizens don’t. They have heard from President René Préval about his personal losses from the quake – his shirts, his palace - but about little else, least of all about the substance of governmental plans for reconstruction.
This week – a full six weeks after the world-historic-level catastrophe – the Haitian government launched a post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA). The PDNA establishes working groups to assess damages and look at the macro-plan for reconstruction.