Grassroots International

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  • Haiti: The Colors of Hope

    Editor's note: Grassroots' staff members Daniel Moss and Azalia Mitchell have traveled to Haiti to visit with our partners and allies and to assess the situation on the ground after this winter's Presidential elections and this week's parliamentary run-offs. Azalia has sent along her first impressions of Haiti (below) and we hope we will hear more from them in the coming days.

    In Port au Prince there are obvious signs letting a visitor know that presidential elections were recently held. Hanging from buildings, telephone wires and poles are huge banderoles reading: "Rene Preval: President" and "Everyone in Agreement: Magnigat for President." The Preval banners, as it turns out, proclaim the results of the election, while the Magnigat are reminders of his supporters' disappointment.

  • International Day of Peasant Struggle Kicks Off Global Action for Resource Rights

    On Monday, April 17 movements all over the world kicked off global mobilizations and actions in support of peasants' struggles for land, water and food rights.

    The Via Campesina, an international movement of family farmers, landless workers, fisher folk and women's and indigenous' organizations, designated April 17th the International Day of Peasant Struggle to commemorate the 1996 Massacre in Carajas, Brazil. The incident resulted in the murders of 19 members of the Landless Workers' Movement (MST), a member of the Via Campesina and a Grassroots partner.

  • Democracy: In Which You Say What We Want and Do What You’re Told (With Apologies to Dave Barry)

    A recent World Bank report observed that the Palestinian economy was in the throes of "one of the deepest recessions in modern history exceeding the scale of economic losses suffered by the U.S. in the Great Depression, or Argentina during the recent financial collapse." More than one out of three available labor force participants are unemployed. And to keep pace with the expanding available labor force, 30,000 new jobs would have to be created each year. The highest percentage of unemployment is concentrated among youth: 37.2% among 15-19 year olds and 36.3% among 20-24 year olds.

  • Family Farm to School Cafeteria

    "Farm to Cafeteria" is a wonderful idea being promoted by a large number of organizations representing family farmers, farm workers, children's and youth advocates, environmental, health and hunger activists, organic consumers, faith-based groups and others, including Grassroots International, the National Family Farm Coalition, the Rural Coalition, the Organic Consumers Association and the Community Food Security Coalition.

  • 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."

  • Quiet Resistance in Palestine

    [Editor's note: Nikhil Aziz and Jennifer Lemire have been in Palestine for the last week. We are very excited to bring you their reports from the Occupied Territories.]

    For Palestinians living under Israeli Occupation, each day is an act of resistance. Each day that Palestinian men, women and children stand in line at the Qalandia Checkpoint waiting for Israeli permission to pass, each day that Wafa has to remind her daughter to conserve water because there might not be enough to last the week, each day that Ya'cub passes buildings in Jerusalem that before 1948 used to belong to his family, each day that Khaled works with farmers in Hebron to build cisterns to collect precious rainwater, each day that Jamal meets with families struggling to stay on their land in Salfit as the Separation Wall casts shadows on their homes, each day that Hasan helps organize Palestinian laborers working in the informal sector of the economy, each day that Samia walks to the fields just outsider her village to harvest zataar and lettuce from her garden. Each of these small acts is one of quiet resistance.

  • 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.

  • Unity: A Vision for the Future of Food and Family Farming

    This week, Grassroots is participating in a series of events that we helped the National Family Farm Coalition organize in Washington, D.C..

    I was in D.C. on Monday for an exciting public forum (you can see a PDF of the program here), hosted by the NFFC and featuring speakers from many other members of the Via Capesina, including Pedro Christoffoli, a representative of Grassroots' partner, the MST.

    Leaders of the movement of family farmers and farm workers from all over the United States met with leaders of farmer and peasant movements from Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Mali to talk about the right of people everywhere to have enough food, to be able to choose how and where that food is produced and to have a dignified livelihood.

  • Anti-Globalization Activist Jose Bove Denied Entry to Speak in U.S.

    Jose Bove, who spoke here at Grassroots International about the campaign to protect the European food system and environment from the dangers of genetically modified crops, has been denied entry to the United States as he was en route to speak at a meeting with farmers, labor activists, students and others in Ithaca, New York.

    Immigration authorities accused Bove of lying on his entry form about a history of prosecution for "moral crimes." Bove admitted he had been jailed in France for "political crimes," including protests against Monsanto and McDonald's.

  • Elections in Haiti: One Small Step Toward Democracy

    Grassroots International applauds the relatively peaceful manner in which Haiti's elections were carried out on February 7th. The long lines of people, determined to vote, who waited more than eight hours for their turn at the polls are a sign of the hunger of Haitians for meaningful democratic participation. We believe that the elections in Haiti as an important step on the road to democracy and one of the only ways for Haiti to move forward out of the current political impasse.

    We are pleased to present to our readers this report prepared by the electoral observers from the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) in Haiti (a member of Grassroots partner, POHDH–Haitian Human Rights Platform) summarizing their first hand observations with regard to yesterday's elections.

  • Highlights of the 2nd Social Forum of the Americas

    Recuerdos de la tierra Bolivariana! Memories from the land of Simón Bolívar!

    We made our way from the Maiquetia airport by way of a 3 hour bus ride on winding roads through the Venezuelan Andes and arrived in Caracas on Monday evening - only 16 hours after leaving Boston! The excitement of the Social Forum of the Americas could already be felt on the streets of Caracas. Thousand of people had begun arriving from distant corners of South, Central and North America and even some from Europe. Some came by air, but many more came by bus, traveling many miles and many hours to be able to participate in this incredible gathering of people from urban and rural community organizations, social movements — including networks working on trade issues, small farmers and landless workers, indigenous peoples, industrial and service workers, women, youth and students, housing and homeless groups.

  • Elections in Palestine: Interpreting the Results

    On January 25, 2006, Palestinians went to the polls to elect members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. This was only the second parliamentary election since 1996 and despite obstacles and barriers created by the ongoing Israeli occupation, the elections were, by most accounts, free and fair with approximately 76% of eligible voters participating.

    The final results of the Palestinian legislative elections show a resounding victory for Hamas, which won 74 out of the 132 seats, giving them a clear majority. Fatah won 45 seats and independent candidates took 13 seats.

    Much has been made of these results and Hamas' watershed victory certainly opens a new chapter in the history of the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, we should be careful to see these results for what they are. They are not a broad mandate for Hamas positions.

  • 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.

  • Building a Better Future with Grassroots Policy at the World Social Forum

    Hola from the World Social Forum!

    I find myself once again sitting in the hotel lobby after a long day of exciting presentations and activity. Today is the second day of the Forum and it feels like it is now in full swing. The streets are more crowded, more cultural tents are up, street vendors have flooded the plazas and, following a rainy start, the sun is out.

    So, too, is the work that we came here to do coming into full attention. Following yesterday's atmosphere of anticipation and hope, participants are now moving into deeper discussions of reflection, analysis and proposals for the future.

  • Globalization-from-Below: Building a Better Future from the Grassroots at the World Social Forum

    Editor's note: This week, Maria Aguiar and Corrina Steward are attending the World Social Forum (Foro Soical Mundial (FSM)) in Caracas, Venezuela. The FSM originated as an alternative to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switerzland, where the world's global elite--CEOs and OECD politicians--meet to exchange ideas to improve their nations' systems of commerce.

    The FSM, alternatively, is a space for all to participate--social movements, coalitions, NGOs, unions--and the goal is to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions in their communities and around the world.

    Corrina's sends her first report from the Forum:

    Greetings from Caracas!

    I'm writing from our hotel, where FMS delegates from all over the Americas are meeting and mingling, continuing to make connections after a long day of learning, listening and presenting. I have come to the FSM to meet with our partners and to learn more about their struggles for food, water and land. What I have learned so far is that for every local problem, there is a solution when communities unite and build global networks.

  • Global Apartheid, Democracy and Foreign Policy

    Democracy is a precursor for a democratic foreign policy. This was an underlying message of a keynote presentation at a recent conference that I attended on U.S. foreign policy framed around a number of interesting questions, including, "What role, if any, might there be for the democratic process in formulating U.S. foreign policy?" and "How does U.S. foreign policy impact U.S. democracy?"

  • After the WTO Compromise: Keep Hoping for a More Just World and Keep Organizing to Make it Happen

    In spite of the WTO's announcement of new compromises and "progress" on the agreement on agriculture (which would deepen the damage done to agricultural systems, food sovereignty and rural economies around the world by years of neo-liberal policies), many observers doubt that negotiators will be able to meet the deadlines and goals of the proposed deal.

  • Pictures from Hong Kong: Peaceful Protests, Plenty of Riot Police

    Grassroots supporter Andy Lin has traveled to Hong Kong with United Students Against Sweatshops and the Worker's Rights Consortium, and has sent us a few photographs of the scene there.

    Above and to the left is a shot of a group of Hong Kong Police in full riot gear, waiting for a clash that never happened. Below, a shot of a peaceful group of women marching to the convention center on Thursday, Dec 15.

    WTO Via Campesina March

    Many thanks to Andy for sending these photos and to all the people who've traveled to Hong Kong to struggle for a more just world.

    Stay tuned for further updates.