Category Archives: Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Resistance grows in defense of peasant seeds

April 16, 2014. Source: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

This year millions of men and women farmers of the international peasant movement, La Vía Campesina, mobilize worldwide in favor of pasant seeds. Since April 17, 1996 (1) la Vía Campesina designated this day as a global day of action with allies and firends.

With more than 100 actions at a local and global level (see map) in all continents, la Via Campesina reasserts the importance of local struggles and at the same time underlines the need of a global resistance and organization between the cities and the rural areas. Actions such as land occupations, agroecological festivities, debates and seed exchanges will be carried out until the end of the month as part of these global days of action.

La Vía Campesina denounces laws and interests that seek to prohibit the use, exchange and access to peasant seeds that we consider a heritage of the people at the service of humanity, as well as food sovereignty as part of a commitment to end hunger in the world.

Historically, men and women farmers, and indigenous peoples have conserved and cared for seeds. La Vía Campesina says NO to all attempts to criminalize and make illegal our practices for caring for, producing and sharing seeds. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Colombia’s breadbasket feels the pinch of free trade

By Helda Martínez, April 8, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

“Things are getting worse and worse,” Enrique Muñoz, a 67-year-old farmer from the municipality of Cajamarca in the central Colombian department of Tolima, once known as the country’s breadbasket, said sadly.

“Over the past five decades, the situation took a radical turn for the worse,” activist Miguel Gordillo commented to IPS, referring to what is happening in Tolima, whose capital is Ibagué, 195 km southwest of Bogotá.

“Fifty years ago, Ibagué was a small city surrounded by crops – vast fields of cotton that looked from far away like a big white sheet,” said Gordillo, head of the non-governmental Asociación Nacional por la Salvación Agropecuaria(National Association to Save Agriculture).

“In Tolima we planted maize, tobacco, soy, sorghum and fruit trees, and the mountains that surrounded Cajamarca were covered with green coffee bushes protected by orange trees, maize and plantain, and surrounded by celery,” Muñoz said.

His voice lost in the past, he said the farms in the area also had “piggies, chickens, mules, cows; everything was so different.”

Gordillo said, “In the north of the department we had fruit trees of all kinds, and the rivers were chock full of fish. There’s still rice, some maize, coffee…but even the fish have disappeared.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Towards an ecological general strike – The Earth Day to May Day assembly and days of direct action

By Elliot Hughes and Steve Ongerth, April 4, 2014. Source: Indy Bay

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

ecostrikeDirect actions are planned in the Bay Area between Earth Day on April 22 and May 1st to raise awareness about the intersections of labor rights, immigration rights, and environmental issues. Actions may include sit-ins, tree sits, guerrilla gardening, pickets, marches, blockades, and strikes. Our goal is to challenge the “Jobs vs Environment” myth, to unite workers and environmentalists against the bosses, and rapidly transition unsustainable industries through direct action. The process in which we would achieve so, is through directly democratic workers assemblies and Environmental Unionist Caucuses within our existing unions where we would organize actions to halt the destruction of the planet. We seek to live up to our IWW Preamble which states that we must “abolish wage slavery and live in harmony with the Earth.”

We know that the workers, the community, and the planet are exploited by the state and capitalist forces that rule over our lives, but now the ruling class is escalating that attack on the working class and the planet we inhabit. We must come together to fight back or our planet will be completely destroyed. Recently the concentration of CO­2 in the Earth’s atmosphere exceeded 400 ppm. It greatly surpasses the 350 ppm that scientists argue is the limit to avoid run away global warming. As the capitalist class continues their “extreme energy” rampage including offshore oil drilling, tar sands mining, mountain removal, and fracking, a mass movement to oppose these forms of energy is rapidly growing and radicalizing. Recently, there has been an increased amount of oil spills, pipeline ruptures, oil train derailments, refinery fires, and chemical dumps. These disasters have not only destroyed the environment, but they have also injured and/or killed the very workers whom the capitalists depend on to extract these “resources”.

The same capitalist economic system destroying the Earth destroying the lives of the workers. Some of their methods of class warfare include eroding health and safety standards, downsizing and outsourcing the workforce, establishing a “blame the worker” safety culture, and creating dangerous labor conditions all around. These conditions that endanger the workers are also directly harming the communities around them, for example while the company towns develop cancers and asthma from air pollution, the workers often breathe in a higher density of these toxins because they work in close proximity with them. Yet, the bosses, through their use of propaganda are able to convince many exploited workers that environmentalists are their enemy are threats to their jobs. We must debunk this myth and come together to take direct action for health and safety and a halt to the destruction of our world.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

Defending the earth in Argentina: From direct action to autonomy

By Marina Sitrin, April 6, 2014. Source: Tidal

argentina1While corporations continue to land grab, exploit and privatize the little we still hold in common – people around the globe have been rising up. Women are preventing dams from being built in India; indigenous are Idle No More, defending the earth; entire town and villages have organized to prevent airports, roads and mines from being developed in France, Italy and Greece; thousands in the US have used their bodies to block the construction of pipelines intended for fracking; and throughout the Americas there are struggles everywhere against mining and the exploitation of land and water. Not only are people fighting back – but in many places, such as the one in Corrientes, Argentina described below, people are creating horizontal and self organized ways of being in the space of the resistance. Not only are people collectively shouting  No! and using direct action en mass to prevent the destruction of the earth, but together they are finding ways to autonomously recreate their relationships with one another, to work and with the land.

The below conversation is with Emilio Spataro, an organizer in Corrientes, who has been active in various movements in Argentina since his teen years. He was a part of the popular rebellion in December of 2001 and the subsequent neighborhood assemblies, building occupations and horizontal self organized projects. Since 2009 he has been living in Corrientes, collaborating with territorially based movements. He is currently on tour in the US with another movement participant from Guardians of Iberá ( One of the targets of their most recent campaign is Harvard University. Harvard owns massive timber plantations in Corrientes and the movements together with students, faculty and staff at Harvard have been organizing to hold them accountable.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions

Anti-extraction resistance growing in Mi’kmaq’i

April 3, 2014. Source: Reclaim Turtle Island

Monday March 31st, Mi’kmaq’i territory (Mi’kmaq Nation of the Wabanaki Confederacy) an L’nu mother & daughter shut down a closed door meeting between the Nova Soctian Minister of Energy & Oil/Gas Industry representatives. Corporations such as Encana, Shell and others were present. This action was supported by the youth climate convergence Power Shift Atlantic, which met in Halifax over the weekend.

Mi’kmaq Warriors and Elsipogtog anti-fracking struggle update

The Mi’kmaq Warriors, Germaine Jr Breau & Aaron Francis who have been held in custody since the day of the raid on Oct 17th, are now facing trial in Moncton courts. They are currently facing indictable charges for being true to their inherent responsibilities as L’nu people by protecting the lands and waters against corporate imperialists, SWN. We are unsure how much longer Aaron & Jr will have to sit in jail, having already served over 5 months without conviction. The financial burden of supporting imprisoned warriors has been carried solely by the family and loved ones and it’s time that changed. Again we are uncertain as to the outcomes of sentencing, but Jr & Aaron have plead to a number of charges. Support funds will be used for canteen, phone calls (which are both collect & long distance), gas for visits, etc. Please donate here Thanks to everyone for their ongoing and continued support!!

For a full update on all of the charges (those that were dropped, plead to and now on trial) please go here. To get a feeling of how court is going so far, check out the court roundups from the Halifax Media Coop,  RCMP Tactical Officer Cross Examination: “My function is not to negotiate”, and Crown’s first eyewitness, RCMP ERT member “My report writing is just sub-standard.”. To continue to follow the trials, follow @mileshowe on Twitter as he is releasing daily courtroom roundups and @defendourlands #WarriorsCourt for sneaky-live-tweeting and other updates.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Fracking, Indigenous Peoples, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Water

Forest peoples demand their rights be made central to global efforts to curb deforestation

March 19, 2014. Source: Forest Peoples Programme

After a major inter-continental gathering on Deforestation and the Rights of Forest Peoples held between 9 and 14 March 2014 in Palangka Raya, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, indigenous and forest peoples called on the international community, governments and international organizations to secure and respect their customary rights to their forests, lands, territories and natural resources in conformity with international law.

They issued this call in the form of the Palangka Raya Declaration, which urges governments, the private sector, financial institutions, international agencies and the international community to:

  • halt the production, trade and consumption of commodities derived from deforestation, land grabs and other violations of the rights of forest peoples;
  • stop the invasion of forest peoples’ lands and forests by agribusiness, extractive industries, infrastructures, energy and “green economy” projects that deny forest peoples’ fundamental rights;
  • take immediate and concrete actions to uphold forest peoples’ rights at all levels including the right to land, territories and resources, the right to self-determined development and to continue to own, control and manage their customary lands according to their knowledge and livelihoods.

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Guatemala: Anti-mining resistance celebrates two years of struggle

By Rob Mercatante, March 11, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

La Puya started, as many great movements do, with a single act of civil disobedience.

A woman, concerned by the sudden arrival of a gold mining operation in her community, decided to park her car sidewise across a dusty, rural road in order to stop a convoy of massive mining machinery in its tracks. Others quickly joined her, taking a stand in defense of their water supply, farmland, health, and environment.

This impromptu roadside gathering of community members became, essentially, a human roadblock, preventing tractors, dump trucks and other equipment from entering the Tambor mine site. Over time, the roadblock grew into the resistance movement known as “La Puya.”

La Puya – against all odds – celebrated its second anniversary on March 2.

“We never thought when we started this movement that we would make it to the two-year mark. For us, it is truly a victory and an example for many others,” said Álvaro Sandoval, community leader at La Puya.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Women

Honduras: Indigenous Tolupanes return to their territory with IACHR orders of protection

By Greg McCain, March 6, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

A caravan makes it’s way up the dusty winding road into the mountains of the department of Yoro. It is heading toward San Francisco de Locomapa, one of the territories of the Tolupane people, an indigenous tribe that has been in existence for over 5,000 years.

San Francisco is also the site of a massacre that occurred on August 25, 2013. Armando Fúnez Medina (46), Ricardo Soto Fúnez (40), and Maria Enriqueta Matute (71) were murdered by Selvin Matute and Carlos Matute (no relation to Enriqueta). The latter two are hired guns for the Bella Vista Mining Company, which has been extracting antimony from the surrounding mountains without the consent of the community and with a mining concession that is in dispute. The two men also hire themselves out to illegal loggers that deforest the mountainsides.

The three victims were members of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ, in its Spanish acronym), which has been protesting the mining and illegal logging and the installation of a hydroelectric dam on Tolupane territory. The community had begun a roadblock on August 12, 2013 stopping trucks that were loaded with illegal timber and antimony and then reporting it to the local police who essentially let the illegal trucks and their cargo go.  Continue reading

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Women in the Zapatista movement

Note: A belated celebration of International Women’s Day!

-The GJEP Team

March 7, 2014. Source: Schools for Chiapas

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Filed under Chiapas, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

GMO/non-GMO co-existence: An environmental justice critique

Dr. Devon G. Peña, March 4, 2014. Source: Environmental and Food Justice

Huichol yarn weaving of a sacred ceremony for maize. Source: Environmental and Food Justice

Huichol yarn weaving of a sacred ceremony for maize. Source: Environmental and Food Justice

I am submitting this statement to express opposition to the proposed USDA co- existence policy. As a plant breeder, seed saver, traditional acequia farmer, and agro-ecologist familiar with the scientific evidence on gene flow I am unequivocally opposed to this policy. Asking for co-existence with GMO crops means seed-savers and plant breeders like myself have to accept the inevitability of severe business losses due to damage to our native seed stocks and active plant breeding programs. I ask that you consider the fact that farmers like myself are the keepers of the nation’s diverse bioregional ‘arks’ of native seeds and these are the ultimate basis of all agriculture in this country. As vulnerable traditional seed savers, we cannot accept co-existence. The scientific fact of gene flow makes it so. Let’s not pretend the scientific fact of gene flow is unsettled, like an agricultural crisis version of climate change denial.

 Working with friends, family, and neighbors, I produce local heirloom varieties of the ‘Three Sisters’ (corn-bean-squash/pumpkin) for a land race seed library grown and stored on a farm in Colorado’s Rio Grande Headwaters bioregion. The preservation of multiple native gene streams is necessary to the business of plant breeding and seed saving which is a central focus of my agroecological enterprise and productive activity. The introgression of transgenes from genetically engineered corn is a direct threat to my livelihood because the open- pollinated nature of maize makes for frequent cross-contamination events. Corn pollen can travel quite far – with some studies showing distances of up to 30 miles or more depending on the nature of regional wind patterns. The San Luis Valley is a high altitude intermountain park known for strong winds and corn pollen can travel very far under these conditions. The valley has an average elevation of 8000 feet and is surrounded by a circle of mountains at 14,000 ft. and higher. We do our plant breeding and seed stock production in this valley on a historic farm that is organized and collectively run to serve as a grassroots agricultural extension research station and farm school for acequiero growers of Colorado and New Mexico. Continue reading

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Food Sovereignty, Corporate Globalization, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Commodification of Life, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration