Land Rights

Seeds of Resistance in the Project of Life

Think of the seed as the first link of the food chain.  If this prime component is compromised, the chain becomes untenable.  What’s more, if corporate interests control seeds, we are all subjugated to their agenda at every subsequent link of the chain.  In fact, the preponderance of GMO and copyrighted seeds from agribusiness laboratories and mono-cropped fields already determine to a frightening degree the foods we can buy and eat.  To counter these billion dollar agro-corporate interests, seed sovereignty activists have sought strength in their greatest resources — their knowledge and collective power.

Five Years Post-Earthquake, Shaken Haiti Still Rebuilding

Five years ago on this day, a colossal shifting of the ground brought Haiti to its knees. On January 12, 2010 the island nation was devastated by the trembling. 0ver 300,000 people were killed according to Haitian government statistics, but the truth is that nobody knows how many were killed that day. Port-au-Prince was left devastated and in ruin. Today is a day to remember and mourn the people who were killed. It is also a day to reflect on how the devastation came to be so great, what happened afterward, and where Haiti is today.

Land, Resistance and a Door in the West Bank

The hulking Separation Wall cuts Abu Nidal off from his Palestinian Village.  He lives in the home he built in 1974. Israel began to build a settlement on the land just four years later and, since, has steadily surrounded Abu Nidal’s small house with towering barriers and illegal housing projects. At one point he had a cafeteria on the road. Israel demolished it.  He had a storage facility for his farming equipment.  Israel destroyed it 10 times.  He had a green house.  Israel bulldozed it.

I visited Abu Nidal with one of Grassroots International’s partners, the Stop the Wall Campaign. His story remains with me, feeding outrage at the atrocities he endures and hope for the ongoing resistance to land grabs.

Two Dreams Come True in Brazil

Geraldo de Matos Barbosa and Maria Elena each had a dream when they joined the Landless Workers Movement (MST) 13 years ago. The couple has been part of the movement in Maranhão, Brazil including six years living in a dusty encampment, enduing six violent evictions before finally securing title to the land.

The process of shifting from an encampment (without buildings, electricity and sometimes even water) to a settlement helped make both their dreams come true. Grasssroots International's support for land rights in Brazil, including with the MST, provides much-needed solidarity and funding for the movement, and for the apsirations of the courageous individuals putting themselves on the front lines of the struggle.

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.

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.

Land Rights and Food Sovereignty in Brazil

When Maria and Rubem dos Santos were pushed off their land in northeast Brazil to make way for a sugar cane plantation, their lives changed forever. In previous years, the family supported itself by growing food for a balanced diet. Now, instead of farming, Rubem had to work in the cane fields. The chemicals made him sick, and his meager income didn’t stretch far. The family was going hungry.

Keep your Coins, I Want Change

This spring, Grassroots International was invited to participate in a project of the Kindle Project called the "Indie Philanthropy Initiative." For more information about the project, visit indph.org.  The interview below includes reflections from Nikhil Aziz and Sara Mersha.

How do you do your funding and please describe your organization’s approach and process, explaining how it is different from conventional philanthropy.