For the 15 million indigenous people, mixed heritage (mestizo) peasants farmers and farmworkers living in Mesoamerica, globalization represents the continuity of economic, political, cultural and military colonization. Nowadays the conquistadors are corporate boosters and technocrats pushing free-trade agreements and new government concessions to extract resources. Defending their resources rights and the right to stay in their homeland, indigenous and peasant farmers in Mesoamerica form a vibrant and inspiring social movement for social and economic justice and cultural and political autonomy.
Through grantmaking, education and advocacy, our Mesoamerica program helps advance the resource rights of indigenous and mestizo farmers, with a special focus on:
- Strengthening representative grassroots organizations that can effectively defend rights to land and water and promote food sovereignty
- Supporting innovative community projects based on sustainable agriculture principles
- Furthering indigenous self-determination and autonomous control over territory
- Challenging U.S.-led free trade agreements and corporate-led globalization
Using a multi-layer strategy of grantmaking, Grassroots’ Mesoamerica program supports regional networks, national peasant and indigenous organizations and local groups dedicated to the development of alternative policies to globalization. At community and national level, Grassroots’ goals are to support the development of sustainable livelihood practices and strengthen the organizing among different communities and groups. At regional level, we partner with broad networks led by peasant farmers, indigenous, and women.
These regional networks are at the forefront of the local resistance against free trade agreements and extraction of local resources. This also includes struggles against the privatization of life-giving public goods such as water and corporate-biased free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central America-Dominican Republic-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) that undermine small producers’ livelihoods.
Our work in Mesoamerica began in 1993 with the launch of our Mexico program, where we have supported work like organic gardening projects in Oaxaca as a way out of dependence on coffee as a cash crop (the price of which has crashed in recent years) as well as women’s empowerment and leadership training among indigenous communities in Chiapas.
Recognizing natural alliances across borders, as part of our Resource Rights for All Initiative, we have built relationships with other organizations and movements in the region to strengthen a regional movement. For example, in Nicaragua we have partnered with the Association of Rural Workers (ATC) to support a regional Central American training and leadership development program for the Vía Campesina Central America. A priority objective of this educational program is to strengthen “globalization from below” coalitions through partnerships with indigenous and peasant farmer organizations and movements throughout Mesoamerica.