Inatoy Sidsagi and his cousin Esteban Herrera, from the indigenous Kuna Yala (also known as Guna Yala) nation in Panama, make up the indigenous rap group Kunarevolution. They rap about Mother Earth and the Kuna’s inalienable right to protect her lands and waters.
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.
Just Food in New York City is doing what its name suggests: working to make the food system more just. It does this, first, by making community supported agriculture (CSAs), farmers’ markets, and gardens, more accessible and affordable in the city. Second, it helps small farmers survive, and even thrive, in the process.
Miguel Santistevan and his partner Margarita García are helping youth reclaim knowledge about traditions behind lands and waters. Sol Feliz Farm, Miguel’s grandfather’s house east of Taos, is an acre of spiral gardens, rock gardens, and straight rows. The farm’s Agriculture Implementation Research and Education (AIRE) project is capturing the imagination of an impassioned group of youth in northern New Mexico.
“We are trying to have workers become as trendy as local and organic has become in the industry,” Saru Jayaraman, co-director and co-founder of ROC, told us. “It’s going to take the three stakeholders – workers, good employers, and consumers – working together to actually change things.”
“People are realizing that we can’t rely on the industrial food system much longer. The awakening that’s happening is our greatest opportunity,” says New Mexican farmer and activist Miguel Santistevan. This awakening has sparked the revival of local, sustainable food systems.