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By Carol Schachet
April 22nd, 2015
The Caribbean Court of Justice, Belize’s highest appellant court, ruled that the Maya Indigenous People of southern Belize have rights to lands they have customarily used and occupied. The Court affirmed that these traditional land rights constitute property within the meaning of the provisions of the Belize Constitution that generally protect property free from discrimination.
After almost a decade of legal struggle, the April 20th judgement finally upholds the rights of the indigenous Maya to their ancestral lands.
Grassroots International has supported he Maya Leaders Alliance, a lead plaintiff in the case and community voice for indigenous rights and cultural.
By Gail Bambrick
March 30th, 2015
We share planet Earth with nearly 7.3 billion people. By 2050, there will be 9.6 billion of us, according to the United Nations. That’s a gain of one person every 15 seconds—or about 74 million more people each year—and each another mouth to feed.
Some claim we need to increase world food production by 70 percent to avoid future shortages, especially in developing countries, where the greatest population increases are expected over the next 35 years. Are they right? It’s a question that many, including the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s Population Institute, are raising.
For several months brave activists and residents have built protest tents outside of the Jerusalem gate in Eizaria. The Israeli military has destroyed their tents 11 times—but each time the determined activists build them again. They are saying no to an Israeli plan remove 2,500 Bedouins shepherds from their land, their homes and their traditional way of life while also displacing fellow Palestinians in Abu Dis and Eizaria. What will Israel do with the land in an area they term “E1” to the North and East of Jerusalem? Expand its largest illegal settlement: Maale Adumin.
According to our partner the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), approximately 10,000 families in the city of Altamira in Brazil will be directly affected by the flooding and subsequent lake created from the construction of the Belo Monte mega-dam. Meanwhile Norte Energia, the company responsible for this mega-project, has only built 4,100 poorly-constructed houses for the displaced without any other infrastructure like schools, medical facilities, and public transportation for the displaced communities. These are only a few of the reasons is why hundreds of people came together on March 11 to protest against the Belo Monte dam.
In the United States we’ve spent months zeroing in on the reality of police brutality against Black people. We’ve been grateful to see and take part in a growing movement that addresses structural racism—pointing out that Black people are disproportionately more likely to die at the hands of police, face institutional racism, and breathe more polluted air.
In the Black nation of Haiti, too, there has been a systematic dismissal of the value of Black lives and US policy has been deeply implicated in interventions that slaughter the interests of Haiti’s people in favor of a narrow elite.
In yet another setback for the claims by Monsanto and other biotech giants that GMOs are safe, a group of 300 scientists and legal experts have recently found that there is no consensus on GMO safety, and that claims to the contrary are misleading. As one scientist who was originally involved in the creation of GMO tomatoes now puts it, to assume there is scientific consensus “is little more than wishful thinking.” The following is the statement, which Grassroots International signed onto, from the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER).
“No scientific consensus on GMO safety” statement published in peer-reviewed journal
Contrary to Western assertions, Africa is not a blank slate.
Africans have a long history of vibrant culture, politics, economics and agriculture. However, since Europe’s first encounter with Africa through present day, international “decisionmakers” have approached the African continent as though it was devoid of people along with history. Africa is imagined out of context, and those projections become the basis for policy.
In our times, the battle for Africa is being waged one plot of agricultural land at a time. Control of Africa’s food system is being wrested away from peasant farmers and being turned over to agribusinesses such as Monsanto under the guise of agricultural development.
Is it possible to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinians’ human rights, and thus take steps to end at least some of the worst aspects of the Israeli occupation, through the arena of international law? That’s a question that could be answered in the coming years.
On January 16, 2015, the International Criminal Court launched a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is an initial inquiry, after which point the ICC could decide whether or not to take up a full investigation.
Last week we got word that settlers had destroyed hundreds of olive trees very near to the area in the Southern Hebron Hills where Grassroots International’s delegation to Palestine harvested olives in October. Similar acts of violence by settlers are a reality that Palestinian farmers face day in and day out throughout the occupied Palestinian territories and a painful reminder of the impact of the settlers on stolen land.
The toxic oil spill in eastern Montana oozed onto the land of one of Grassroots International’s partners and a fierce voice for food sovereignty and environmental justice. Now her denunciations of the gluttonous crude industry and on behalf of small farmers and the environment are reaching far and wide, but at a terrible price.