The Global Peasant Solidarity Movement Building Initiative (GPSMI), a series of projects coordinated with our partner the Landless Workers Movement (MST) to support international social movements, is now in its second year. Having successfully renovated infrastructure, MST volunteers created regional learning centers: a space for the informal exchange of ideas and for organizing more formal workshops teaching Latin American political theory and social activism leadership.
Although most of these courses are focused on training activists to develop and strengthen grassroots organizations within Brazil, some courses have an international focus. For example, the International Formation for Trainers Course aims to strengthen internationalism through in-depth study and the exchange of culture and experiences. Representing 50 different social organizations from five continents, the 80 participants in this course create a truly diverse environment. The course provides participants with tools for organizing solidarity brigades that are strengthening global peasant movements.
The Dessalines Brigade, a project that connects La Vía Campesina South America with Haitian peasant organizations reflects how GPSMBI is fostering global exchange. The brigade was born out of Brazilian La Vía Campesina members’ concern for the Brazilian government’s military presence in Haiti. The mission of the brigade is to strengthen the organization and legitimacy of peasant movements in Haiti. Grassroots has supported a grant given to the brigade to provide both leadership training and technical and political support to build solidarity and accompany Haitian peasant movements. The trainings cover a variety of critical topics including agroecological production, environmental health, and discussions on the role of gender in rural social movements in Haiti. The creation of this brigade and Grassroots’ support reflect the growing international support of peasant movements.
GPSMBI is also expanding its influence to peasant movements in Africa through the Internationalist Samora Machel Brigade. Members of the MST in Brazil have been traveling to South Africa to learn, develop, and conduct political education work. With a focus on organizing the defense of economic, social, and environmental rights, this brigade facilitates cultural exchange and strengthens international solidarity by building up peasant movements internationally.
The international training courses provide the foundation for the intellectual, technical, and cultural exchange that takes place during these brigades. GPSMBI’s global vision opens the door for local peasant movements to expand internationally and continue to advocate for their rights and protect and manage their land in a sustainable manner.
About the Author: Leonie Rauls began interning at Grassroots International after graduating from Amherst College in May 2018. She has a degree in Political Science and Spanish, and wrote her senior honors thesis on Conditional Cash Transfers, a poverty alleviation program in Latin America. She hopes to continue conducting social policy research to help create a more just and equitable society.