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By Frei Betto
July 10th, 2008
In late June, Grassroots partner, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) made public a document they got a hold of that showed the intention of the Rio Grande do Sul state Public Ministry to "dissolve" the MST. The document is based on a meeting, on December 3, 2007, during which the state Public Ministry decided: to outlaw any mobilization of landless workers, including marches and walks, to intervene in settlement schools, to criminalize leaders and members, and to "deactivate" all the encampments in Rio Grande do Sul.
Friends and supporters of Grassroots International may be familiar with Hesperian Foundation, a non-profit publisher of community health education materials, best known for Where There Is No Doctor, recognized by WHO as "the most widely-used health manual in the world." With this month's publication of the long-anticipated A Community Guide to Environmental Health, Hesperian celebrates more than just the release of another book. It allows us all to celebrate and learn from the myriad ways in which people at the grassroots can and do take control over their own environmental health.
By Saulo Araujo
June 6th, 2008
Our partners in Guatemala have told us: the current food crisis will continue unless we guarantee the land, water and seeds rights of communities necessary to grow food. The same message is being echoed in Brazil, Mexico and many neighborhoods in the U.S.
In two separate statements, Guatemala's National Peasant and Indigenous Coordination (CONIC) and Brazil's Small Producers Movement (MPA) put forth food sovereignty as a solution to the crisis: the right of communities to produce food for local markets and for consumers to have access to local healthy foods. Both organizations denounce the expansion of industrial agriculture and growing control of agribusinesses for contributing to the hunger of urban and rural communities.
June 4th, 2008
Partner press release from Via Campesina
Rome, Italy, 3 June 2008
Watch the video of the action in Rome!
Farmer and civil society leaders carrying out a peaceful action today in Rome, Italy at the FAO Summit on the Food Crisis were forcefully removed from the premises. At around 1:30pm farmers and representatives of civil society organisations staged an action at the press room to deliver a message that millions of additional people are joining the ranks of the hungry as the corporations that control the global food system are making record profits.
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
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.