Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP)
By Salena Tramel
November 20th, 2010
Haitian peasant leader, Chavannes Jean Baptiste, put it best: “Haiti is going from disaster to disaster.” He was talking about debilitating disease among displaced people in squalid living conditions, tropical storms destroying agricultural land, and international aid programs undermining local organizing.
By The Via Campesina
September 28th, 2010
La Via Campesina, a global peasant movement representing small farmers, landless workers, fisherfolk, rural women, youth and indigenous peoples, with 150 member organizations from 70 countries on five continents, has denounced the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust’s recent acquisition of Monsanto Company shares. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in 1994 by Microsoft founder William H. Gates, and today exerts a hegemonic influence on global agricultural development policy. The Foundation channels hundreds of millions of dollars into projects that encourage peasants and farmers to use Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) seed and agrochemicals.
Some of the most important lessons I know about grassroots organizing come from the poet Wendell Berry, who advises, “Invest in the millennium; plant Sequoias.”
Only six months ago, Haiti was violently shaken by an earthquake, killing nearly 300,000 and leaving the country reeling from its latest disaster. With help from responsive and generous donors, Grassroots International has been able to provide support directly to community-led organizations -- the people on the front-line of helping rebuild.
Grassroots International recently supported a delegation of Haitian social movements to attend the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. This diverse group represented several of our partners and allies on the ground in Haiti and offered them a unique networking and educational platform.
By Alisa Pimentel
Among the almost 20,000 activists gathered in Detroit for the US Social Forum this week are several Grassroots International partners and allies. Grassroots International regularly provides funding to our partners and allies to participate in movement-building and leadership development gatherings.
No one denies that Haiti needs seeds and support this planting season, as the population still faces steep challenges since January’s devastating earthquake. Many thousands have fled urban areas for the countryside, taxing already strained resources and causing many rural communities to re-purpose for food the seeds set aside for planting.
But is any seed a good seed? No, says Chavannes Jean-Baptiste and other Haitian activists. Chavannes is the executive director of Grassroots International partner the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP).
"A new earthquake" is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto's seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.
Grassroots International had been hearing from our partners in Haiti, both the peasant movements as well as the urban-based coalitions, that they were extremely disheartened by their exclusion from the development of plans for Haiti’s relief and reconstruction. Since the week after the earthquake, our partners have shared with us several thoughtful and powerful statements that outline the key principles and strategies necessary for a more just renewal of Haiti - from their perspective. Grassroots International has been sharing their statements as widely as possible – working to insert and amplify their voices within the larger policy debates.
Last August, I stood in Haiti’s Artibonite valley with several peasant organizers and looked out at the mountains leading up to the Central Plateau. The older leaders in the group explained in depth how green the mountains once were, while the younger organizers and I listened in amazement. The tropical lime forests they described from their past were the antithesis of the sandy naked slopes we saw in the distance.