Grassroots International

Brazil | Page 13 of 14

  • Greetings from the Sertão in Bahia, Brazil

    On our way back from a tour of the enormous hydro-electric dam here in Paulo Alfonso this afternoon, Saulo Araujo and I stopped at a small pond covered with water lilies and what looked to my North-American eyes like duckweed. I was delighted to see dozens of Jacanas and gallinules feeding in the weeds and just as we were about to leave an Amazon Kingfisher flew out from the trees on the edge and dove into the pond for a fish.

  • Ancestral Land of Black Community Reclaimed from Multinational Corporation

    Last month, 300 women and men from quilombos of the Brazilian southeastern state of Espírito Santo reclaimed a parcel of ancestral land from ARACRUZ Cellulose, a Norwegian-based corporation, according reports from the Anti-Green Desserts Network. The land is part of the former Linharinho quilombo. Two of Grassroots International's Brazilian partners, the Landless Movement (MST) and the Movement of Small Farmers (MPA), supported the initiative of the quilombolas in Espirito Santo.

  • One More Step Towards Justice in the Case of Sister Dorothy

    On April 26, Amair Feijoli da Cunha was sentenced to 18 years in prison for facilitating the hiring of the two murderers of Sister Dorothy Stang, a North American nun who spent the last four decades working with community groups in the Amazon to defend the economic, cultural and social rights of peasants and small-scale farmers. In the first day of his trial, Amair confessed that he hired Rayfan das Neves and Clodoaldo Batista with the support of two wealthy landowners in the region of Anapu, Brazil. The landowners-- Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura e Regivaldo "Bida" Galvão–are currently under trial for their role as authors of the murder.

  • Human Rights Violations Against Representatives of Women’s Organizations in Brazil

    March 28th, 2006 —On March 8th, International Women's Day, a group of more than 1,200 women from the Via Campesina took action to denounce the environmental and social injustice committed by corporations and a global agrarian policy that puts the needs of the market ahead of the needs of people. These corporations use vast tracts of land in Brazil for plantations of eucalyptus and pine to produce paper and lumber for export. The Movement of Women Peasants in Brazil points out that this monoculture creates "green deserts" that actually increase poverty instead of reducing it. As the members of the women's movement say, "We want land to grow food. We don't eat eucalyptus."

  • Bold Actions in Brazil for International Women’s Day

    Grassroots International wishes you a happy International Women's Day!

    I want to share with you a declaration from women from the Via Campesina in Brazil. The women are in Porto Alegre, Brazil during the Second World Conference of Agrarian Reform and Rural Development — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN. They have set up a parallel forum entitled, "Land, Territory and Dignity". They set out on a march early this morning to shout out their vision of equal land and water rights for all. It's a very hopeful vision, especially for the multitudes of women around the world denied access to these precious, life-giving resources.

  • Family Farmers and Food Sovereignty Global Struggles for the Future of Food and Family Farming

    Everyday more than 800 million people go hungry. Many of the hungry are family farmers or landless farm workers in the Global South. In the U.S., family farmers are struggling to stay in business and fighting for a cleaner environment and for a food system that will protect rural livelihoods and provide consumers with safe, delicious, local food. To face these daunting challenges, family farmers from around the world are organizing themselves into a global movement for social justice.

    In Washington D.C., Grassroots and the National Family Farm Coalition organized a public forum for farmers movements, academics and activists from around the nation and around the world to share theirglobal vision for food and farming.

  • Dying for Land Rights: Dorothy Mae Stang Gunmen Sentenced, Prosecution of Ringleaders Proceeding

    February 12, 2006 is the first anniversary of the death of Sister Dorothy Mae Stang, an American nun who was brutally assassinated because of her work as an advocate of peasants' resources rights in the Brazilian Amazon. Sister Dorothy's fate was the same of the hundreds of peasants, rural labor organizers and environmentalists, including Chico Mendes, who have been killed fighting for their economic, social and cultural rights in Brazil in the last four decades.

  • Update on Dom Luiz’s Hunger Strike

    Thousands of supporters turned out to celebrate Dom Luiz's birthday with him yesterday, as he continues his hunger strike against the re-routing of the São Francisco River.

    Here's an AP story on the demonstrations. It's good that the reporter focuses on the environmental damage that re-routing the river will cause (which will likely include increased deforestation, sedimentation and habitat loss for wildlife and fisheries stock) but it's disappointing that he takes at face value the government's claims that 18 million people will benefit from the project.

    Independent experts who have analyzed the plan suggest that the number who actually receive water from the project will be much smaller than that, and experience with similar projects around the world suggest that the long term consequences of mega-projects like this can be catastrophic not only for the environment in some abstract sense, but for the livelihoods and lives of the people who live in the area. Not exactly what I would call a benefit.

  • Brazilian Bishop on Hunger Strike In Defense of São Francisco River

    It is the seventh day of Dom Luiz's hunger strike to protect the São Francisco River from a potentially catastrophic "Watershed Transposition" project that the Brazilian government wants to implement in the country's arid northeast. He is growing weak, but is determined to continue his hunger strike.

    Dom Luiz is a Franciscan Bishop who lives at the margin of the São Francisco river in a town called Cabrobo (ca-bro-boh), in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. He has been a strong advocate of the revitalization of the river and a strong voice during the public hearings about the plan to re-distribute the water of the river using a series of dams and canals. In a letter to the people of the northeast, he stated the problems of the project and appealed to the families from the four states that are supposed to benefit from this mega project: "If the São Francisco river was not dying and the watershed transposition were the best solution to end your thirst, I would not be in disagreement and would fight with you for it."

  • Bishop on Hunger Strike In Defense of São Francisco River

    It is the seventh day of Dom Luiz's hunger strike to protect the S Francisco River from a potentially catastrophic "Watershed Transposition" project that the Brazilian government wants to implement in the country's arid northeast. He is growing weak, but is determined to continue his hunger strike.

    Dom Luiz is a Franciscan Bishop who lives at the margin of the S Francisco river in a town called Cabrobo (ca-bro-boh), in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. He has been a strong advocate of the revitalization of the river and a strong voice during the public hearings about the plan to re-distribute the water of the river using a series of dams and canals. In a letter to the people of the northeast, he stated the problems of the project and appealed to the families from the four states that are supposed to benefit from this mega project: "If the S Francisco river was not dying and the watershed transposition were the best solution to end your thirst, I would not be in disagreement and would fight with you for it."

  • Working Together, Redefining Rights: Environment, Agriculture and Labor

    When an activist is murdered for organizing resistance to powerful interests, it can be much easier to simply think about the crime as a human rights crime in the narrowest sense of the term. It's easy to forget that what the activist was fighting for in many cases wasn't political freedom per se, but for those other categories of rights that sometimes seem hard to understand: social and economic rights like the right to define a culture of one's own, and to have enough food and water and land to support a dignified living.

    A few weeks ago, this news alert came through my inbox from International Rivers Network:

  • Social Change=Strong Women at the Forefront

    Imagine that your family, descended from freed slaves, has been working the same plot of land where your ancestors once toiled in bondage for generations. Now imagine waking up one morning to find that your government has sold the land out from under you to foreign speculators. What would you do?

    When it happened to Dona Maria de Jesus, or Dona DeJe as she is affectionately called, she knew she had only one choice: fight for her community and for her rights.

    Brazilian Bishop on Hunger Strike In Defense of Sao Francisco River

  • Dying for Land Rights

    In my last post, I was writing about the real barriers -- including violent resistance on the part of big landholders and real estate speculators -- that make some of Hernando de Soto's land-tenure legalization theories untenable. Today, the New York Times brings us the sad news (registration required) of the assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang, who was killed for her work with poor and landless workers and her efforts to protect the rain forest from loggers and land speculators.

    We live in a world where real estate speculators will hire gunmen to shoot a nun four times in the chest in order to protect their profit margin. The idea that giving poor people a deed and saying, "OK, now you own this land, you can compete fairly in this predatory economic system" seems hopelessly naive.

    Sister Stang had been telling of death threats from the loggers and land speculators for years, but she couldn't turn to the police for protection, Rhoter writes, because they viewed her as a trouble-maker.

  • Make Trillions With No Money Down!

    Peruvian Economist Hernando de Soto has a simple idea that he believes could flood trillions of dollars into the poorest sectors of the world economy: by giving poor people clear legal title to the land they live on and the homes they've built, he says, we could give them the collateral they would need to get bank loans that could help them build businesses and enter the formal economy. The concept has made De Soto a star in the international development world. He's the toast of the World Bank and the darling of Davos, and if his theories worked, he'd be one of the greatest friends that the poor of the world have ever known.

    Unfortunately, like a lot of things that seem too good to be true, de Soto's plan doesn't pan out well in the real world.

  • MST Activists Killed in Attack by Hooded Gunmen

    This Saturday a group of hooded gunmen arrived at a small parcel of land in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and opened fire on a group of children, women, and men who have been living there in a makeshift encampment for the last two years.

    Brazil's Landless Workers Movement had identified the land as an un-used, state-owned parcel of land that, under the Brazilian Constitution, should have been distributed to landless workers so that it could be put to work for the good of all of Brazilian society.

    More and more in the past two years, even under the worker-friendly goverment of President Luiz Ignacio "Lula" da Silva, landowners and other forces alligned against agrarian reform have resorted to brutal violence to fight the re-distribution of land.

  • Massacre at Felizburgo

    On November 20th a gang of hired gunmen opened fire on the families of Nova Alegria Farm near Felizburgo, Minas Gerais. Violent resistance to the agrarian reform movement led by Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (MST) has been on the rise in the last several years, and the perpetators of the crimes too-often go unpunished. For more information on the details of the attacks, read the statement below from the MST. Find out below how you can help put an end to impunity.