Nikhil Aziz's blog

"Nobody, No, Nobody is Gonna Rain on My Parade!"

"I simply gotta march, my heart's a drummer; nobody, no, nobody is gonna rain on my parade!"

I remembered the lyrics of this song, first sung by Barbra Streisand I think, as we marched – some 100,000 of us – in a torrential downpour through the streets of Belém, at the mouth of the Amazon in the Brazilian state of Pará. It was the Opening March of the 2009 World Social Forum. Despite the rain, the enthusiasm of the crowds was contagious.

Rain falls on the opening march of the 2009 World Social Forum

Nakba & Independence

The other night I went to listen to Sandy Tolan read from his book The Lemon Tree. Grassroots International’s friend Hilda Silverman, a long time activist for Palestinian rights who sadly passed away recently, had invited Sandy to Cambridge.

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew and the Heart of the Middle East is an agonizingly beautiful, sad and yet even hopeful story of two people and two peoples, two nations and one land. Listening again, as I have before, to the stories of partition, independence, refugees and war, I was overcome with emotion and my thoughts wandered as they have often during such times to my own India-Pakistan. And I had to remind myself that this was Palestine-Israel.

Life, Hope and Development: the Final Installment of Grassroots International's Journey to Haiti

From Jacmel on the tropical blue Caribbean coast we drove up into the southern mountains to Cap Rouge. The main road had been washed away by floods and the route we took was a deeply potholed mix of dirt and gravel making for a very bumpy ride. We were in a rented SUV but saw scores of mopeds (mini motorcycles) carrying anywhere from 3 to 5 people along with their goods navigating the steep climb up the mountains with far more dexterity and speed than us.

Red, Green, and Brown: the Colors of Haiti’s Central Plateau

From the capital, Port Au Prince, we take a small five-seater plane to the Central Plateau in Haiti's interior. My colleague Maria Aguiar and I are flying to Hinche, the capital of the Department of the Centre. From there we will drive to Papaye to visit Grassroots International's partner the Mouvman Peyizan Papay (Peasant Movement of Papaye), which is convening to celebrate its 35th anniversary and chalk out a plan of action for the next five years.

Biting the Hands that Feed Us

"Punjabis are poisoning themselves" declared the Economist not too long ago, quipping that the poster child of India's green revolution is now "in the throes of a grey revolution." We take heart that the Economist, a cheerleader for "free trade" and neoliberal economic policies, is raising questions about policies that have caused massive environmental degradation and serious public health consequences for India's bread basket state.

Senate to Vote on Local Food Aid in Farm Bill Next Week

We have some exciting news to share.

Your voice was heard in the U.S. Senate.

The Farm Bill, scheduled to be voted on by the full Senate next week, includes funding for a $25 million pilot project for locally-sourced food aid for hungry people around the world.

We want to thank you for your support of this crucial legislation.

This is a big win.

At the last minute, Senator Pat Roberts (KS-R) threatened to call an amendment that would have squashed the pilot project. Thanks to the support of activists like you, this program that will offer support to family farmers around the world and improve our ability to feed the hungry is alive.

World Food Day: The Right to Food IS Food Sovereignty

More and more people around the world are taking up the call by peasant and small farmers, indigenous peoples and pastoralists for food sovereignty as an expression of, and a way to realize the right to food. Earlier this year members of the Via Campesina and other organizations met in Mali to put in motion an action plan for achieving food sovereignty. On October 16th, World Food Day, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) endorsed food sovereignty as the right to food. As IFOAM notes, food sovereignty as the right to food means the right to feed oneself as opposed to the right to be fed.

Another World is Possible; Another US is Necessary – the United States Social Forum

“Our Youth is not the Future, Our Youth is the Present” – Julian Moya, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), Albuquerque, New Mexico

“We cannot choose the historical conditions we find ourselves in, but we can choose how we respond to them” – Ajamu Baraka, Director, U.S. Human Rights Network, Atlanta, Georgia

These two quotes, among many other hopeful messages I heard at the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) from June 27 to July 1, 2007 in Atlanta epitomized for me the USSF – what it stands for and envisions in terms of a different kind of United States. Both represent the truth embedded in the official slogan of the USSF – Another World is Possible; Another US is Necessary.

The Road to a Just Peace in the Middle East goes through Washington

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.

International Peasants' Struggle Day - April 17

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.