Human rights assume an individual’s ability to take advantage of them… which is difficult if you’re hungry. So, for this year’s Blog Action Day, we’re thinking about soil health, which we think is critical to fighting hunger and supporting equal opportunity.
On September 12, Berta Caceres, Tomás Gomez, and Aureliano Molina, leaders of the indigenous Lenca organization Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) must appear in court. Their charges? Usurpation of land, coercion, and causing more than $3 million in damages to DESA, a hydroelectric dam company. Berta, the general coordinator of COPINH and an internationally recognized social movement leader, is also facing separate charges of illegally carrying arms “to the danger of the internal security of Honduras.”
“Within our indigenous community of Xoxocotla, we continue to hold the ancestral values we inherited. It never crosses our mind to leave them behind. Because in daily life we are always in contact with nature, with our lands, with our water, with our air. We live in harmony with nature because we don’t like the way that modernity is advancing, destroying our territory and our environment. We believe technological modernity is better named a death threat.”- Saúl Atanasio Roque Morales
Multinational corporations are moving into Central America to exploit gold and other minerals, rivers, forests, and agricultural lands. One area of high interest in the corporate feeding frenzy is the indigenous Lenca region in the southwest of Honduras. The government has given outside businesses concessions to dam, drill, and cut, in violation of national law and international treaties. More corporations have simply moved in on their own.
“We live on the Atlantic coast of Honduras. We are a mix of African descendants and indigenous peoples who came about more than 200 years ago in the island of San Vicente. Without our land, we cease to be a people. Our lands and identities are critical to our lives, our waters, our forests, our culture, our global commons, our territories. For us, the struggle for our territories and our commons and our natural resources is of primary importance to preserve ourselves as a people.”
Consuelo Castillo, a community organizer in Lempira, a land reform settlement in Bajo Aguán, Honduras, said, “Our goal is for everyone who is part of the land occupations to have access to land. Land is our first mother. For us farmers, we don’t have life without land.”
In recent years, the voice and visibility of movements opposing land grabs and displacement, and demanding land reform, are increasing. Though relatively little land has been redistributed, organized movements of small farmers, indigenous peoples, and landless people are developing in size, strength, and organization. They are uniting across borders to break the nexus between land, agriculture, power, and profit.
Land reform movements, organizations of indigenous peoples, small farmers, and other citizens are responding to the increased sacking of land and other natural resources throughout the global South, and resultant spikes in landlessness and poverty.
The neighborhood of West Oakland in California has long been without a large grocery store, let alone one that offers healthy, fresh food. With unemployment at about 10% and nearly half the population of 30,000 residents living at or below the poverty line, West Oakland is a neighborhood that grocery store chains have claimed isn’t able to sustain a full-functioning store. People’s Grocery aims to prove traditional grocers wrong.
For most tomato pickers in the US, a bucket brings in 50 cents, a piece rate that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 30 years. Because the rate is set so low, a worker has to pick more than two and a quarter tons of tomatoes per day – the weight of a young elephant – to make the minimum wage. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is transforming all of this.
Women produce 60 to 80 percent of all food, both as subsistence farmers and as agricultural wage laborers. They are the primary providers for the majority of the world’s 925 million hungry people, obtaining food, collecting firewood and water, and cooking. And yet they have less access to land and the resources necessary to grow on it than their male counterparts. Inequitable distribution of land, labor, and resources leaves farming women triply burdened by work: in the fields, in the home, and in society.
Food sovereignty is rooted in the daily work of every small farmer, rancher, fisherperson, landless farm worker, and everyone else involved in local food production. Yet no matter what they produce, their ability to survive is affected by international market forces. The movement, therefore, also includes community, national, and international activists working for just trade and economic systems.
From community gardens to just global policy, a national and global movement is growing to reclaim food, land, and agricultural systems from agribusiness and put them back in the hands of citizens.