Grassroots International

Brazil | Page 13 of 13

  • 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.

  • Notes from the Un-Convention

    The Democratic National Convention is coming to Boston. Plans are in place to dramatically restrict vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the center city. Just yesterday, a judge said that the space being prepared to keep protestors "under wraps" resembled an internment camp, but he refused to order the police to re-think this radical restriction of the right to assembly. Life is good in the Cradle of Liberty. The jury is still out on whether or not any of this could prevent the feared terrorist attack, but turning Boston into a police state will surely keep thousands of people from exercising their democratic rights...such as they are.

    Luckily, the DNC will not be the only political gathering in Boston during July's final days.

  • “The people, together, are like a pool of wisdom. When you share that wisdom, the pool gets deeper.”

    As they prepared for their workshops and panels at the Boston Social Forum, I had a chance to talk with Paulo de Marck of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST) and Ruba Eid from the Democratic Wokers Rights Center (DWRC) in Ramallah, Palestine.

    Paulo and Ruba have come to Boston to share stories from GRI's partner organizations, and to meet people engaged in similar struggles here in the States and around the world.

    Why come all this way for a conference?

    "The people, together, are like a pool of wisdom," Paulo said. "When you share that wisdom, the pool gets deeper."

  • Headed to the World Social Forum in Mumbai

    My fellowship program (New Voices) is bringing/sending 30 of us to Mumbai for the World Social Forum (WSF) a yearly gathering of social change organizations, activists, organizers, academics (100,000+ registered) etc... that began in 2001 in Brazil as an alternative to the yearly World Economic Forum organized by large multinational corporations, national governments, IMF, the World Bank and the WTO in Davos, Switzerland to discuss trade policies and agreements.