Nikhil Aziz's blog
By Nikhil Aziz
June 11th, 2007
More than 5000 people rallied on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, June 10th to call for an end to the 40 year Israeli Occupation of the Palestinian Territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They represented over 300 organizations from around the country including Grassroots International—Grassroots’ Executive Director Nikhil Aziz participated in the rally. The organizations ranged from faith-based groups and labor unions to civil rights, students’, women’s and lesbian and gay groups. They demanded that the U.S. government act to bring about a lasting and just peace and an end to the occupation and conflict.
The 17th of April is International Peasants' Struggle Day, established after the massacre of 19 landless peasants belonging to the Landless Movement (MST) in Brazil on the 17th of April 1996 which occurred during the second conference of the Via Campesina in Tlaxcala Mexico. Many of Grassroots International's partners, including the MST are members of the Via Campesina, and Grassroots directly works with the Via as well.
In commemoration of International Peasants' Struggle Day, the Via Campesina and its allies are organizing activities and actions all over the world. Peasants and friends will rally around the demands that the Via posted on its website.
Christine Ahn of the Korean Americans for Fair Trade sent us this statement opposing the KorUS FTA (the free trade agreement signed between South Korea and the United States) that was reached today. Through organizations like the Korean Peasant League, a member of the Via Campesina, South Korean farmers and workers have been global leaders in the opposition to free trade agreements like KorUS FTA and the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Agriculture. KPL and its allies continue to struggle for food sovereignty and fair trade in the face of this assault on human and resource rights.
Meanwhile, last week, Grassroots International and 712 other human rights, development, environmental, farm, labor, faith-based and other organizations signed a letter initiated by Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch to Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid opposing Fast Track Authority for the President for such free trade agreements.
In the wake of President Bush's visit to Guatemala as part of his 5 nation Latin America tour, the National Labor Committee (NLC, New York) and the Center for Studies and Support for Local Development (CEADEL, Guatemala) just released a joint report "Harvest of Shame" that details the exploitation and human rights violations of children in Guatemala.
Foreign Policy in Focus (a joint project of the Institute for Policy Studies and the International Relations Center) recently invited Anuradha Mittal (of the Oakland Institute) and Gawain Kripke (of Oxfam America) to debate free trade. Anuradha was also on a recent panel with Colin Rajah (of the National Netowrk on Immigrant and Refugee Rights) titled, "A Perfect Storm: U.S. Trade, Agriculture and Immigration Policies Undermining Human Rights" that Grassroots International organized at the International Human Rights Funders Group conference in January 2007.
Peasants Cannot Do it Alone, Need Strong Alliances with Consumers, Environmentalists, Indigenous Peoples and Others
Peter Rossett, from the Center for the Study of Rural Change in Mexico (CECCAM), is a member of Grassroots International's Resource Rights Advisory Group. He was in Mali for the Nyeleni Food Sovereignty Forum this month and in a piece that was first posted on the Nyeleni website, he stressed the need for different sectors to collaborate, pointing out that "It is clear that the peasant sector cannot change the food system alone; it needs strong alliances with consumers, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, women, fishermen and even herders."
Joao Pedro Stedile, an MST leader and member of Grassroots International's Resource Rights Advisory Group participated along with his colleagues at the Nyeleni Food Sovereignty Forum. While there he spoke with Radio Mundo Real about how the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank do not represent the interests of ordinary people and argued that international trade must first and foremost meet the needs of people not corporations. The interview originally appeared on the Nyeleni website.
Two Grassroots International partners from Brazil, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) and the Movement of Small Farmers (MPA) were both at the Nyeleni International Food Sovereignty Forum in Mali this week. They spoke to Radio Mundo Real about the importance of food sovereignty and the need to continue to advocate for it and agrarian reform on a continuing basis with the Brazilian government, as part of the strategy of achieving food sovereignty.
Grassroots International friend Anna Lappé is currently in Mali for the Nyeleni Food Sovereignty Forum along with Grassroots' Resource Rights Specialist Corrina Steward and over 500 other delegates from around the world. She just sent us a blog on the Forum that she posted on the Guerilla News Network Post, which was founded by her broher Anthony.
Since Lula's election as president, some progressives (at least outside of Brazil) have been somewhat complacent about "our guy" in Brasilia.