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By Peter Rosset
May 20th, 2008
Around the world it seems more and more that the time has come for La Via Campesina. The global alliance of peasant and family farm organizations has spent the past decade perfecting an alternative proposal for how to structure a country's food system, called Food Sovereignty. It was clear at the World Forum for Food Sovereignty, held last year in Mali, that this proposal has been gaining ground with other social movements, including those of indigenous peoples, women, consumers, environmentalists, some trade unions, and others. Though when it comes to governments and international agencies, it has until recently been met with mostly deaf ears. But now things have changed. The global crisis of rising food prices, which has already
By Saulo Araujo
April 7th, 2008
We have documented several cases of land conflicts in Brazil, a country of considerable territorial dimensions. Land conflicts are not the only contradiction in the largest South American economy. Brazil is also facing a growing problem of water conflicts, despite the fact that Brazil holds 8% of the world’s freshwater reserves.
Free translation from the Landless Workers Movement (MST’s) website
In celebration of International Women’s Day on Saturday, we at Grassroots would like to honor 900 peasant women who bravely seized and occupied a vast corporate tree farm in southern Brazil that they believe symbolizes the type of development that is destroying their communities and Mother Earth itself.
It could not have been easy.
The women, members of the Via Campesina, staged the takeover just before dawn on Tuesday, then proceeded to cut down the corporation’s trees and plant native trees in their place. At least 50 women were injured by rubber bullets and other material when police forcefully removed them from the 5,200-acre farm. Hundreds of them were reportedly arrested.
They were peacefully protesting water privatization in a corner of their home country, El Salvador -- until the Salvadoran government arrested them and labeled them "terrorists."
Now, the 13 protestors from Suchitoto are free, following a recent decision by El Salvador's attorney general to drop the terrorism charges. Prosecutors were unable to substantiate the charges under the "Special Law Against Acts of Terrorism" -- a 2006 law that the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador strongly supported. (The ruling party in El Salvador is a close ally of the U.S.)
In times of war and institutionalized terrorism, examples of solidarity between people in the United States and the Global South give us hope for a better world. In fact, it is only through solidarity with people that we will never actually meet that we can build the "global movement for social justice".
Here is a case that has re-energized us at Grassroots International this end of year.
Last spring, Grassroots made a brief presentation to students of Boston's Philbrick School about our work to support rural communities throughout the globe to reclaim their rights to land, water and food.
This report, which documents the human and environmental costs of the industiral biofuel model in Latin America, is the result of a seminar about the expansion of sugarcane plantations in Central and South America. The seminar, which took place in São Paulo, Brazil, from February 26-28, 2007 was organized by Brazil's Pastoral Land Commission and Grassroots' Partner, The Social Network for Justice and Human Rights.
"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.
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.
The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) officially launched their new Rainforest Agribusiness campaign this week, targeting ADM, Bunge and Cargill (ABC) for the role they are playing in the massive expansion of soy and palm oil plantations throughout the world. Global South movements including our partners in the Via Campesina are doing similar campaigns in various parts of the world.
In the last month or so, magazines as diverse as the venerable National Geographic and the next-gen Wired have featured stories about the almost magical properties of industrial-scale agrofuel production, claiming that biofuels will lift the rural poor out of misery by providing high-paying jobs, reversing global warming and ending war in the Middle East.