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By Maria Aguiar
November 12th, 2008
Recently I returned from the Via Campeisna's Vth International Conference in Mozambique, followed by brief visit with social justice organizations in South Africa. Also in Mozambique, as delegate to the Via Campesina Conference, was Grassroots International colleague John Peck of the Family Farm Defenders and the National Family Farm Coalition. John wrote the article below just days after hearing the President of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza, address the Via Campesina Assembly. In his address, Guebuza unfortunately noted that his government would be supporting the expansion of jatropha plantations for agrofuels production.
On September 28, 2009, Ecuadorians approved a new constitution that includes an article granting nature the right to "exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution." The new constitution recognizes the right of all Ecuadorians to have access to sufficient resources to feed themselves in a sustainable manner with respect to cultural differences between people and communities. A priority is local food production, recognizing implicitly that the right to adequate food represents, among many things, the right of the small food producers, harvesters and fisherpeople to acquire appropriate resources and the right to rely on the laws, measures and programs that assist them in providing food.
October 1st, 2008
Partner press release from Via Campesina
More than 500 men and women farmers and leaders from 70 countries will gather in Mozambique from October 16 to 23, 2008 to attend the 5th International Conference of the Via Campesina. Grassroots International is providing support for its partners, including members from Brazil, Haiti, Central America and Mexico, as well as a delegation from Indonesia, to participate in the international event. Two staff members from Grassroots International will also attend part of the conference, which will focus on Food Sovereignty and the current agricultural crisis. The Via Campesina's press release outlines more details of the conference.
By Andre Vltchek of the Oakland Institute
September 22nd, 2008
The principle of food sovereignty places local control of food production and distribution at its core. Unfortunately, throughout the world industrial farms, corporations and the policies that benefit them take that control away from local farmers and communities. In a recent report , Grassroots International's colleagues at the Oakland Institute describe this situation and its dire consequences in Indonesia where "excessive dependence on global markets, followed by the collapse of traditional agricultural structures, as well as almost non-existent social policies, have manufactured widespread hunger in Indonesia today."
The construction of the Wall by the Israeli government in the West Bank is viewed by many as the third and final wave of expulsion of the Palestinian people, following the forced Palestinian exodus in 1948 in the wake of Israel's independence, and then the 1967 Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps, more than any other element of the occupation, the Wall illustrates the severity of the Palestinian situation and the urgency for access to resources, including water.
Members of Grassroots International's partner La Via Campesina -- an international network of peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists, women, and youth -- gathered in late June in Jakarta, Indonesia to defend their right to exist, and called for a UN Convention on the Rights of Peasants. (Below, see their final declaration)
Under intense threat from the expansion of agro-fuels in South America and Indonesia, militarization in Colombia and South Korea, and increasing food prices, rural families are voicing a predicament that affects all communities.
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.
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.
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.