Defending Human Rights

Migration, Food Sovereignty and Land Rights: A conversation with Carlos Marentes, Sr.

On this International Migrants Day (December 18), Grassroots International pays tribute to the courage and dedication of many of our partners and allies, internationally and in the U.S., who are working at the intersection of migrant justice and resource rights. One of these partners is Carlos Marentes, Sr., director of Centro De Los Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos (the Border Agricultural Workers Center) in El Paso, Texas. A close Grassroots International partner and co-coordinator of Via Campesina North America.

The Struggle for Indigenous Land and Autonomy in Honduras

Honduras is the country with the highest level of homicide of any nation not at war, where government violence and human rights abuses have almost total impunity. It is also the country contributing most of the flood of children who have been recently forced to migrate to the US, because of that violence and by poverty – both, in part, a legacy of US policy in the region.

Yet something else is afoot. A fierce social movement, composed of many sectors, is pushing back to protect democracy, lives, and political rights. Indigenous peoples, including Garifuna, Lenca, Pech, Miskito, Maya Chortí, and Tolupan, are asserting their human right to autonomy, territory, and cultural survival.

10 Photos for International Human Rights Day: A Tribute to International Social Movements for Resource Rights

December 10 is celebrated around the world as International Human Rights Day. On this day, Grassroots International is honored to call special attention to the social movements that are on the frontlines of the struggle for resource rights – the human rights to land and water, as well as food sovereignty and climate justice. We have much to celebrate, with several major successes that social movements have achieved in the struggle for resource rights over recent years. At the same time, over the past year, we have been heartbroken as we’ve lost many people who have been courageously defending resource in each of Grassroots International’s program areas. The photos and stories below are just a small sample of some of these movements and human rights defenders.

Haitian Organizations Call for Elections

Since coming to power in 2011, the administration of President Martelly has failed to hold elections for senate seats, the chamber of deputies, and local.  Fed up with inactivity, the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH) renewed calls for elections in Haiti, joining other human rights organizations throughout the nation. 

Common Oppressions and Powerful Solidarity

I joined the chants of “Black Lives Matter” last night, together with other staff of Grassroots International and several thousand other Bostonians, marching to the steps of the State House. This was my first demonstration since I came onboard as Executive Director of Grassroots International (two days ago!) and solidified the local-global links that are so central to this work.

For me, and for so many others who care about human rights and social justice, the issue goes far beyond Michael Brown or Eric Garner or a litany of other names on a case-by-case basis. The issue is the systemic devaluing of some lives and the protection of others in such a way that benefits some and subjugates others.  

Day of Action Against Violence Towards Women

Grassroots international joins with our partners at the Via Campesina in denouncing violence of all kinds against women -- including personal and structural. No woman should fear to live in her home, be barred from owning the land she farms or experieince barriers to full livelihood and dignity.

Day of Action Against Violence Towards Women

Grassroots international joins with our partners at the Via Campesina in denouncing violence of all kinds against women -- including personal and structural. No woman should fear to live in her home, be barred from owning the land she farms or experieince barriers to full livelihood and dignity.

Trade Deals Criminalize Farmers' Seeds

What could be more routine than saving seeds from one season to the next? After all, that is how we grow crops on our farms and in our gardens. Yet from Guatemala to Ghana, from Mozambique to Malaysia, this basic practice is being turned into a criminal offence, so that half a dozen large multinational corporations can turn seeds into private property and make money from them.

But people are fighting back and in several countries popular mobilisations are already forcing governments to put seed privatisation plans on hold.

Exposing the “Green Revolution” in West Africa

Farmers have worked the rugged land in Western Africa for generations, moving seasonally from field to forest for food and livelihood. While life was never easy, the community worked together, in harmony with their surroundings, to provide for themselves and their neighbors.

All that changed when the government planted a virtual “For Lease” sign on the land. China and other buyers grabbed it up, quickly draining the land of nutrients with vast fields of monocrops for export.

This is the plight of many farmers across the Global South. Massive land grabs – combined with the influx of genetically modified seeds under the banner of the “Green Revolution” – come with empty promises of increased agricultural productivity and the end of hunger.

Video of Grassroots International Palestinian Partner Accepting 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize

On October 15, 2014 Ali Abd El Rahman  accepted the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize on behalf of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). UAWC shares the prize with Community to Community Development/Comunidad a Comunidad (C2C) of Bellingham, Washington.

UAWC is a Grassroots International partner and has been a leading force for the promotion of food sovereignty (not just food security) in Gaza and the West Bank.