By Daniel Moss
May 29th, 2008
Maude Barlow – world-renowned water activist and author of Blue Gold – was recently awarded the Citation of Lifetime Achievement by the Canadian Environment Awards. Grassroots International was honored to have her as our keynote speaker for our 20th anniversary celebration, at which time we awarded her a global activist prize.
I'd like to take a minute to congratulate Maude, and to encourage you to read about her achievements over the past two decades. Thank you Maude for your inspiring leadership in the water justice movement and for struggling tirelessly (and joyfully) for water for all!
We have documented several cases of land conflicts in Brazil, a country of considerable territorial dimensions. Land conflicts are not the only contradiction in the largest South American economy. Brazil is also facing a growing problem of water conflicts, despite the fact that Brazil holds 8% of the world’s freshwater reserves.
Free translation from the Landless Workers Movement (MST’s) website
They were peacefully protesting water privatization in a corner of their home country, El Salvador -- until the Salvadoran government arrested them and labeled them "terrorists."
Now, the 13 protestors from Suchitoto are free, following a recent decision by El Salvador's attorney general to drop the terrorism charges. Prosecutors were unable to substantiate the charges under the "Special Law Against Acts of Terrorism" -- a 2006 law that the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador strongly supported. (The ruling party in El Salvador is a close ally of the U.S.)
It is hard not to be skeptical about Annapolis. As author and activist Alice Rothchild noted in a recent article, "Perhaps a more honest name for the current madness is not the realization of the Road Map, but rather the steady creation of Road Blocks that are rapidly crushing the hopes for a viable two-state solution." A lame duck Bush Administration (in any case not known for its diplomatic efforts) is, after 7 long years of neglect, trying to jump start peace in the Middle East.
In times of war and institutionalized terrorism, examples of solidarity between people in the United States and the Global South give us hope for a better world. In fact, it is only through solidarity with people that we will never actually meet that we can build the "global movement for social justice".
Here is a case that has re-energized us at Grassroots International this end of year.
Last spring, Grassroots made a brief presentation to students of Boston's Philbrick School about our work to support rural communities throughout the globe to reclaim their rights to land, water and food.
By Chris Damon
July 15th, 2007
The tiny Central American nation of El Salvador has long been out of sight, out of mind to most U.S. residents. Once the guns of the 12 year civil war went silent in 1992, the country signed peace accords, disbanded the famously repressive National Guard, modernized the police force incorporating ex-combatants from both sides into its ranks and embarked upon a somewhat haphazard process of healing.
"A few days a week, foul-smelling black mud comes out of the plant," Javier told us as he sat a short distance downstream from the Coca-Cola plant in Apizaco, Mexico. Javier, a small farmer getting on in years, has been tending his cows along the Apizquito River for decades. "The spring is about four kilometers up to the east. The water comes out sweet and clean there, but by the time it gets here it's polluted."
Javier, a small farmer near the Coke plant
"Water and other natural resources are at the center of conflicts worldwide, in large part due to their unequal distribution. These conflicts are both paradigmatic and traditional, involving a fundamental difference over whether water is a human right or a marketable commodity. For rural small producers from the Middle East to Latin America, there is no question that access to and control of water is essential to their very survival. The source of the water challenges these producers face vary across the globe, from occupying powers to a state of war, and from government-sponsored, top-down development models to corporate interests that promote private gain over public good. When viewed through the lens of resource rights, globalization is shrinking the global commons through the concentration and privatization of natural resources. Social change movements of small producers are at the forefront of envisioning and realizing more sustainable alternatives."
Following an eleven-day hunger strike, Brazilian bishop Dom Luiz Cappio called an end to his protest, having won key concessions from the government to postpone the planned re-routing of the Rio S