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Anti-mining resistance repressed in El Estor

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Norma Sancir | Prensa Comunitaria abrazos
(Image by Norma Sancir | Prensa Comunitaria)

Mayan Q’eqchis communities demand to be consulted. Government decrees state of siege and defends interests of Russian-Swiss corporation.

As of 24 October, a state of siege has been in effect in the northeastern municipality of El Estor, Izabal, for a period of 30 days. The measure, approved by the government and ratified by Congress, will limit freedom of action and mobilisation, the right of assembly and demonstration, and allow arrests without warrants. It was taken after more than twenty days of resistance by the Maya Q’eqchis communities against the Fénix mining project.

The project is operated by Compañía Guatemalteca de Niquel (CGN) and Compañía Procesadora de Níquel de Izabal (Pronico), subsidiaries of the multi-million-dollar Russian-Swiss corporation Solway Investment Group.

According to the digital media Prensa Comunitaria[1], this is the largest mining licence in Mesoamerica, with an extension of almost 250 square kilometres (municipalities of Cahabón, Panzós, El Estor and Senahú), i.e. an area of exploitation twelve times larger than what is permitted by Guatemalan law.

Two years ago, indigenous authorities and residents of El Estor appealed to the Constitutional Court, which ordered the suspension of the mining licence granted by the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) to CGN-Pronico. The ruling was made final by the judges one year later (June 2020).

In its ruling, the Court considered that, by failing to carry out the free, prior and informed consultation established by Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation, the MEM had violated “the rights of indigenous peoples to participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of economic, social and cultural development plans and programmes that directly affect them”.

Furthermore, the environmental impact study of the Fénix project was carried out on only a very small portion – 6.29 square kilometres – of the total territory to be mined, which is 247.9 square kilometres. In this sense, the judges ordered the MEM to delimit the territorial space of the licence “only in the 6.29 square kilometres that have the environmental impact assessment study”.

Finally, the Constitutional Court ruled that a process of pre-consultation and consultation with the peoples settled in the area where the Fénix project is to be developed should be carried out within a maximum period of 18 months.

Sixteen months later, the Court’s decision has remained practically a dead letter: the subsidiaries of the Russian-Swiss transnational never stopped their activities and the MEM refused to take into account and involve the legitimate Q’eqchi authorities in the pre-consultation process.

Faced with this situation, the communities began a peaceful protest with the aim of preventing CGN-Pronico’s trucks from passing through, forcing compliance with the Court’s ruling and, above all, defending their territories from the destructive impacts of the mining project.

Brutal repression

On Friday 22 and Saturday 23 October, hundreds of police and military personnel attacked the peaceful protest of the Q’eqchi communities, using excessive force. Several journalists who were covering the events were assaulted by agents.

The brutal repression was condemned by the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH), which called on President Giammattei and the head of the Ministry of Energy and Mines to “strictly comply with the ruling of the Constitutional Court”.

Attorney Jordán Rodas denounced, through social networks, that CGN-Pronico continues to operate illegally, that the government is guarding company trucks and that security forces are repressing the population and journalists. It also condemned and rejected the use of tear gas bombs against peaceful demonstrators.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Guatemala also expressed its concern and called for dialogue, reminding the Guatemalan state that it has a responsibility to “protect human rights, including the right to life and to facilitate free and peaceful assembly”.

The Convergence for Human Rights expressed its support for the dignified resistance of the Q’eqchi’ people “in the face of the imposition of extractive and predatory industry by a company that destroys life in Lake Izabal and in the municipality of El Estor”.

The Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Guatemala (Udefegua) expressed its solidarity with the Q’eqchi’ communities and population “who are resisting the imposition of a project that has been temporarily suspended (…) The lack of compliance with the provisions of Convention 169 is the express cause of the demands of the population”.

Udefegua called on Guatemalan society to express “its repudiation of these acts of violence and its solidarity with the resistance in the municipality of El Estor”.

“What is happening in El Estor is shameful. We are very concerned about the repression they have unleashed and now with the state of siege, an extreme measure that borders on a state of war,” said Carlos Barrientos, director of the Peasant Unity Committee (CUC).

“The Court’s ruling is not being complied with, the communities and sectors of the population that filed the injunction are being excluded from the pre-consultation and consultation process, and the interests of the transnational company are being imposed, allowing it to continue operating and opening the way for its trucks with blood and fire,” he added.

Barrientos also recalled that this serious situation is taking place in a very conflictive territory, where in recent decades the national oligarchies and transnational capital have been promoting the uncontrolled expansion of monocultures and the accelerated implementation of energy and extractive projects.

It is also a very delicate moment for the country, where the so-called “corrupt pact” has taken almost total control of the institutions and is legislating and taking ultra-regressive measures to increasingly criminalise human rights defenders and social protest.

“We are facing a government that, in the face of social unrest, prefers to declare a state of siege, repress and silence rather than seek dialogue. Serious human rights violations are taking place.

It is important that the international community speaks out and rejects the manipulation of the consultation, the repression against the communities and the state of siege in El Estor. It is also important to show solidarity with all those who are suffering from the violence”, concluded Barrientos.

Guatemala is bleeding to death

According to Global Witness’ latest report “Last Line of Defence”[2], Guatemala remains one of the deadliest countries on the planet for those defending land and the commons. Last year, 13 defenders were killed and Guatemala had the fourth highest number of defenders killed per capita worldwide.

Between January and December 2020, which corresponds to the first year of President Giammattei’s term in office, 1055 cases of aggressions, 15 murders and 22 attempted murders against human rights defenders were registered in Guatemala.

Between January and June 2021, Udefegua registered 551 aggressions. “If this trend continues, this year will become the period with the highest number of attacks against human rights defenders, organisations and communities in Guatemala”.

Of all these attacks, 45% were against defenders, 42% against women defenders and 14% against organisations and communities. Udefegua emphasised the increase in attacks against women defenders, which, in an unprecedented way, reached the same rate of violence as men.

After the repression of 23 and 24 October and the declaration of a state of siege, several sources denounced the raid on the premises of the community radio station Xyaab’ Tzuultaq’a and the Q’eqchi’ Ombudsman’s Office, as well as police harassment and persecution against members of the anti-mining resistance and journalists.

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Europe

Roses.

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America loves to think of itself as a rose, in bloom.  We trumpet our freedoms and strength as if they are bright red petals on a summer day.  It’s a damn shame though, that for most of the world, for 6 or 7 decades now, they look at us… and they only see the thorny stem.

It was merely August, 7 months ago, that I decried the pointless and fruitless war in Afghanistan.  It wasn’t ever necessary, was doomed to failure, and represented a complete failure by our leaders to learn any lessons from history.  

I am a pacifist.  War is not the answer, and we’ve had 15,000 years to figure that out.  Over and over again old grudges birthed new conflicts.  So I decry this stupid war as well, the one Putin has started because he has nearly completed looting his home nation of Russia and now needs new lands to loot.  It is a pattern seen over and over again, so the fact that he is the most successful mob boss in the history of the world should not blind us to the fact he is also just another tinpot dictator flailing about in an effort to preserve his gains.  

Those are points 1 and 2: war is bad, and this bum is pretty run of the mill.  Point 3 is less obvious, but the Ambassador from Kenya made it very well in his speech the other day: nurturing grudges from the past does no good, it’s better to look ahead and build a better future.  This is something that is still possible, even though it seems unlikely with tanks rolling into Ukraine.  

Point 4: it’s shockingly hypocritical how we have chosen to ignore so many other conflicts because this one feels ‘closer to home’ for our politicians.  Syria has been mired in a water war for 8 years at least, too bad for them.  Yemen has been trying to throw off the yoke of their Saudi neighbors, but gosh darn it Mohammed Bone Saw is our ally; so you Yemeni’s get to die.  Gosh darn it.  But oh look, Europe has gotten it’s feathers ruffled because 20 years ago a bunch of venal politicians lied to each other and now tempers have flared about it.

Point 5: We must go back to my very first statement: learning from history is a MUST.  We failed to do so in our last 4 wars – – and pretty thoroughly lost them all.  We failed to do so at the beginning of WWII, when we chose to let Spain fall to the Fascists, namely to some guy named Franco.

Not all of us, natch.  Many Americans rightly saw the looming threat, and formed the Lincoln Brigade.  They fought and bled and died alongside the Republicans in Spain.  They lost, but they were on the right side of history.  And so it is with point #5… we need to be on the right side of history here.  

For 9 decades, since fall of 1945, the entire planet has lived under the shadow of the mushroom cloud.  It has, to put it mildly, clouded our judgment.  Most folk have pretended since 1991 that the cloud had lifted, but of course nothing at all had changed.  And so now two very large armies are skirmishing in the winter mud outside of Kiev, and mothers across the planet are wondering how they will be able to shelter their children if fallout comes their way.  

It’s unfortunate that the Russian people are going to be victimized just as the Ukraine’s people are.  They didn’t want war.  But they are trapped under his murderous sway, just as with Stalin and Lenin before him.

Pete Seeger told us that even pacifists should defend their home if it was invaded.  For years I wrestled with that, I told myself that pacifism means nothing if it is not absolute.  Fact is Seeger was right.  And Putin isn’t just invading Ukraine.  He is laying the groundwork for another time of soviet-style darkness for the whole world.  

The rose that America deems itself to be cannot fail this time to prevent the rise of Putin-style Fascism.  It galls me to say it, but this time we must set aside points 1 through 4 because #5 outweighs them all.  This war was preventable, yet it is here, now.  We made a deal with Ukraine when they gave up their nukes, we promised to protect them.  Before all that we founded the United Nations and wrote the UN charter, which specifically demands action in defense of basic democracy and human rights.  For these reasons, and for the ideals that we clung to as we defeated Hitler, this madman must be stopped.  Don’t let Putin’s paid lackeys Carlson and Trump pull the wool over your eyes.  After all, they have labored for ages to undermine the ideals of freedom and democracy.  

So it comes to this: it’s time for the thorns.  

I’m appalled at myself to be calling for war.  So be it, the time for diplomacy came and went, regardless of how I felt about it.  

I am a pacifist, though I never have been much of one.  My hope now is that the Allies act swiftly, and fully.  Don’t ‘half-ass’ it like we did in Viet nam, Iraq, etc.  Make a plan and commit to it.  Make plans not just for the battles but also for their aftermath.  And do it now.  There should not need to be a Lincoln Brigade stood up this time, governments should take the initiative.

The lessons of the Nuremberg trials were stark, and clear, and demanded that we never forget why that war was fought.  Once again a madman seeks to enslave the world, starting with his next door neighbor.  This time we need to rise against the threat, early enough to prevent a global catastrophe.


https://youtu.be/zZXuuKwhVvI

This version of “Morning Dew” features the song’s author, Bonnie Dobson.  It also has a calmness to it that I appreciate, as an older dude.  Of course it’s the most famous anti-nuke song of all time, it has been covered by just about everybody.  I first heard it done by Blackfoot, their version is a barn-burner.  Nazareth, too, tore the walls down with their cover.  But I’m old.  And tired, and this version sums it up best.  No war, no nukes.  The endgame is too horrifying to contemplate.  


https://www.facebook.com/heathercoxrichardson/posts/497064328455471

 

“Rather than form nations that looked ever backward into history with a dangerous nostalgia, we chose to look forward to a greatness none of our many nations and peoples had ever known,” Kimani said.

https://www.npr.org/2022/02/22/1082334172/kenya-security-council-russia?

 

https://truthout.org/articles/chomsky-outdated-us-cold-war-policy-worsens-ongoing-russia-ukraine-conflict/

 

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2022/02/ukraine-russia-invasion-putin-kyiv-interview.html

 

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/christopherm51/ukraine-bomb-shelters-russia-attack-kyiv

 

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/44296/what-putins-options-in-ukraine-really-look-like

 

“People who place themselves in the camp of Vladimir Putin are not patriots, they aren’t America First, they aren’t Christians, and they aren’t pro-life.

They’re also not people who get to drape themselves in the flag, or invoke allegiance to this nation, or feign offense at kneeling football players, or spout some red, white, and blue nationalistic nonsense—because they never cared about any of it.” – John Pavlovitz

https://johnpavlovitz.com/2022/02/23/when-americans-support-murderous-foreign-dictators/?

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Asia

The Love for All Animals

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Love for Living Animals: The Javan Rhinoceros Communicates Through Secretions on its Foot

AN ESSAY

We must safeguard the web of life and care about the other living species that we share this planet with. Pygmy tarsiers eat and host bugs that we’ve seen at home — insects, spiders, lizards, bedbugs, lice, fleas, roundworms, and tapeworms. The vaquitas are preyed upon by large sharks and killer whales, keeping them away from us. But only 10 vaquitas are left and in their absence, the diet of sharks and whales may change. A tiger in the wild indicates that the forest it inhabits is healthy and diverse. As of now, there are 3,900 tigers in the wild globally, and more than twice as many (8,000) in captivity. By protecting the web of life, we build a kinder world for everyone.

The Javan Rhino, only found in Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, Indonesia, is critically endangered. It’s not just because only 75 of them are alive, but also because the park where they are located is too small for a growing future population.

They are the most threatened of all five rhino species. Their small population may lead to inbreeding, which will cause poor genetic variability. Forthcoming rhinos will be more vulnerable to disease.

Javan Rhinos, the second smallest rhino globally, have the smallest horn of all rhinos, at 10 inches. If its horn is broken, a new one will grow. Only the male Javan rhino has a horn.

The Javan rhino never reproduces in captivity. However, 25 individuals were placed at Ujung Kulon National Park in 1967. Today, they number 75, but the Park is too small for more Javan rhinos, so a new area is being studied to accommodate this growing population. Also, Ujung Kulon is near a volcano that has instigated tsunami waves in the past.

In Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam, the last Javan rhino was killed by poachers, for its horn, making them extinct in the country in 2011. There is an excessive demand for their horns as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine for pain and fever, despite studies showing that no medicinal value is in the horn.

A Day in its Life

A Javan rhino spends more than half of the day in mud holes for their body temperature, to prevent sunburn, eliminate skin parasites, and avoid insects. If the mudhole is too small, the Javan rhino will deepen it with its horn and feet, turning puddles into pools. It is believed that Javan rhinos depend on the forest for protection from solar radiation.

After the Javan rhino is done relaxing, it will look for food. It will scrape the sides of its mud hole with its horn for plants. Then it will leave the hole and seek thick vegetation on the ground.

In the absence of a horn, this rhino still has its pointed upper lip to grab food. Its diet is a rich variety of leaves, shoots, twigs, and fruits. In one day it will eat as much food as a healthy person will eat in one year.

Still Much to Learn

Scientists say there is much to learn about the Javan rhino’s biology. They are observing the rhino and studying its dung. Javan rhinos don’t communicate vocally, although they’re capable of making sounds.

Instead, they communicate through, first, a spray of urine, second, a secretion from its foot glands, third, twisted saplings, and fourth, scrapes on the ground made with secretions released from its foot.

An example of a Javan rhino sound can be heard here. They have more aggressive sounds when two males fight over a female, or when a male and female fight before mating.

Scientists use camera traps to better understand this rhinoceros. Some things they have learned:

  1. Unlike humans that have evolved steadily to the way we look today, the Javan Rhino is believed to have remained unchanged for over one million years.

  2. Space. If you keep a silent, respectful distance from a Javan rhino, you will be allowed to observe it and photograph it until it tires and moves away. This was the experience of wildlife photographer Stephen Belcher.

  3. However, you mustn’t approach a javan rhino. Otherwise, they will attack humans by plunging their long sharp lower teeth into your body.

  4. Solitary animals. The Javan rhino lives alone, but may sometimes be with other rhinos in places rich with mud holes for wallowing, or areas where there is a large deposit of mineral salts. The rhinos use these salt licks to get essential nutrients like calcium, sodium, magnesium, and zinc.

  5. Occasionally young Javan rhinos will come together in pairs or small groups.

  6. Javan rhinos also interact during mating season, or when a female is caring for its young. A Javan rhino female is pregnant for 16 to 19 months and gives birth to a single calf every 2 ½ to 5 years. On very rare occasions, she’ll bear two calves. The calf separates from its mother at three years old. The lifespan of a Javan rhino is from 35-40 years in the wild.

  7. Courtship behavior is one of the rare times this animal will vocalize. Sometimes males will use their saber-like sharp incisors to fight each other during mating season for a female. Other times, a male and female Javan rhino will fight and growl loudly, followed by mating. In other cases, a male and female rhino may eat vegetation together. Suddenly, they’ll engage in a 200 meters long chase.

  8. Javan rhinos have poor eyesight, but their smelling and hearing are keen.

  9. Forest: Although the Javan rhino prefers ground vegetation to tree vegetation, they still use the forest for protection from solar radiation. Also, a forest has fewer water supply fluctuations. They also eat saplings from forest trees. The Javan rhino’s habitat requires a mesh of glades, and patches of forest.

Threats to the Javan rhino

At the start of the 20th century, 500,000 Rhinoceroses ran through much of Southeast Asia including Calcutta, India, Borneo, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, the Sumatra, and Java. They lived in tropical rainforests, floodplains, and grasslands.

Now, there are only 29,000 rhinoceroses left in the world. Out of that number, 75 are Javan rhinos with only one habitat, Ujung Kulon National Park. Despite this, there are still some dangers, such as:

  1. The 2018 tsunami, caused by the eruption of the nearby Anak Krakatau volcano, resulted in 10 feet high waves. Four hundred and thirty people died, two park rangers among them. Park buildings and ships were destroyed. This tsunami hit the north coast. If it had hit the south coast, all the Javan rhinos left in the world would have died.

  2. Anak Krakatau volcano is active. In August 1883, Krakatau erupted, resulting in 60 feet high waves. This volcano can wipe out the entire Javan rhino population in one fell swoop.

  3. Arengu palm. This invasive tree has overtaken 60% of Ujung Kulon National Park. It’s a tall tree, and its fronds block sunlight needed for ground vegetation. This results in food reduction and poor nutritional quality of what remains. The WWF is removing the Arenga palm trees, and restoring natural vegetation and food plants for the rhinos.

  4. Disease. In 1981 and 1982, five rhinos died in Ujung Kulon. The Morris Animal Foundation blamed the tabanid flies, horse flies, and deer flies, all of which can spread parasites that result in hemorrhagic septicemia, an acute, highly fatal form of pasteurellosis, causing death. A free vaccination program for livestock by the local government is in progress to address this.

  5. Habitat loss. Ujung Kulon is the last remaining habitat for the critically endangered Javan rhino species. However, another location is being eyed and studied to see if it can accommodate Javan rhinos.

  6. Poaching. In colonial times Javan rhinos were displayed as trophies. Now, they’re hunted for their horns. This continues to threaten the 75 Javan rhinos in Ujung Kulon.

What is Being Done

Many conservationist groups are working to save ecosystems, plants, and other animals by saving the Javan rhino first. Some groups doing this are:

  1. Save The Rhino. This group seeks to produce 2,000 to 2,500 Javan rhinos within the next 150 years. This is the number required for Javan rhinos for possible long-term survival. They do this by:

  • Protecting the Javan rhinos and their habitat.
  • Searching for new habitats to translocate Javan rhinos.
  • Providing ranger kits that include quality shoes, backpacks, and accommodation.
  • Expanding Dog squads to track and apprehend poachers.
  • Detecting illegally smuggled wildlife products.
  • Funding for veterinary interventions.
  • Providing transmitters and radio frequency tags to help track rhinos in the wild.
  1. WWF. The World Wildlife Fund and its partners found a possible habitat area for new Javan rhinos. As a result, they are: Conducting a feasibility study of the habitat.

  • Establishing management structures
  • Enlisting surrounding communities to protect the area. Engaging scientific research to inform conservation and management efforts.
  • Planning to remove all Arenga palm trees in Ujung Kulon
  • Planting suitable vegetation for the rhinos.
  • Patrolling against poachers with community help.
  • Addressing illegal trade through local and international law enforcement to subject traffickers to justice.
  1. The Morris Foundation funds studies focused on saving the Javan rhino.

  2. The International Rhino Foundation and the staff of Ujung Kulon National Park protect the Javan rhino. Javan rhinos are the flagship species of the Western Java Rainforests ecoregion.

Ecological Importance of the Javan Rhino

The Javan rhino does a lot of good for an ecosystem. For example:

  1. Javan rhinos keep an ecosystem healthy and balanced. By consuming so much vegetation, they help shape the landscape and keep plant life populations in check, and permit soil space for new plants to grow. Other animals in the ecosystem also benefit from this.

  2. The Javan is the most adaptable feeder of all rhino species. Biologists have identified 300 species of food that they eat.

  3. Javan rhinos topple vegetation and crush it with their feet and body weight, so it can wallow in the mud. This provides natural plant trimming that strengthens the forest. It also stores CO2 and releases clean air.

  4. Many plants and animals cohabit an area with Javan rhinos. Protecting the rhinos keeps all plants and animals in the ecosystem protected too, such as antelopes, buffalo, elephants, and large carnivores.

  5. Local people depend on natural resources from the rhino’s habitat for food and fuel. Ecotourism can generate income for locals.

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Editorials

In Chile, A different and courageous alternative with new ideas and proposals for leadership

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“We are a different, courageous alternative with new ideas and proposals”, Susana López

Nicolás Filipic

(Image by Nicolás Filipic)

A good way to describe Susana Lopez is to read her facebook wall where many former students of this young teacher from Ovalle greet her and remember her. “The teacher taught me the values of honesty and nonviolence. “Aunt Susana always had a space for us, to listen to us and give us advice. “Thanks to the teacher I decided to study law to be able to defend the weakest and those who nobody takes into account”.

And so, hundreds of messages of love, affection and respect for the person who is now running for Congress for the first time.

“It was very difficult for me to make up my mind because of the exposure that a candidacy for national deputy demands, and on top of that, on the ballot paper, I am in the centre and first on the list”, says Susana, laughing at this paradox.

President of the Coquimbo region of the Humanist Party, it was the members of Humanismo in the region who decided to proclaim her, “it is important that people know that this candidacy does not arise, like all the others, in an office in Santiago, but that it is the people of the territory who decide”, she says, affirming that she is not part of any political caste where other candidates run again and again and make a career playing with the hopes of the people.

“It is incredible, but there are candidates from the parties that have shared power over the last thirty years who promise what they have never done before, and then the question arises: how long will people allow themselves to be fooled into voting for them again? That’s why this candidacy makes sense, because we want to be a different, brave alternative with new ideas and proposals.

What are these proposals?

The Law of Political Responsibility, presented by our deputy Laura Rodriguez in 1990, and which was never dealt with, proposes the revocation of the mandate of any authority or elected official who does not fulfil his or her campaign promises within a period of one year.

A Law of Worker Ownership through which all companies that share profits with their workers can have some kind of tax exemption, since we believe that the capital-labour relationship has to be seen from a new perspective where the most important thing is the Human Being and not money.

The creation of an Environmental Social Tribunal, neighbours working together with the judiciary so that those who pollute go to jail, enough of paying fines to continue ruining our ecosystem.

Popular Water Committee to put an end to the plundering of water in our communities and the business of water trucks which is an abuse for our people, especially the peasantry.

We are going to put pressure on the authorities so that we have an oncology centre of excellence in our region, it cannot be that families have to migrate to be able to have cancer treatments, we need political decision to understand that health is a right for the whole country and not only for those who live in Santiago.

We are concerned about violence against women, every day we know of more cases and nobody does anything. We are going to put pressure on the decision makers to create shelters run by women in the main cities of our region.

As I am a teacher and I experience the problems of education on a daily basis, we are going to propose a Law on Education for Nonviolence, where students, parents and teachers are taught tools for conflict resolution through active nonviolence.

The enthusiasm does not wane in Susana who defines herself as an ordinary person, “my father was a taxi driver to Sotaqui, I have always lived the values of work, honesty and love, also good and decent people have the right to get involved in politics and Humanism has a history of coherence and transparency that make it unique”.

This reference has its roots in the fact that the Humanist Party was the first to be legalised in the midst of the dictatorship (1986).

“When I joined the Humanist Party, 15 years ago, I found a proposal that fitted perfectly with what I needed, the idea of simultaneous social and personal change seemed wonderful to me and resonated with me, with the personal work I could recognise my strength and rely on my virtues to remove the suffering look on the bad things that had happened to me”,

“We Humanists were the only ones who marched together with the people without anyone running us off and we were in the assemblies that took place at the time, and we want this support to be translated into votes to be able to change history”, she says with strength and conviction.

“If Pamela Jiles, being the only humanist deputy, was able to turn the tide and achieve the withdrawal of the AFP and with that put food on the table for hundreds of Chilean families, can you imagine what a humanist bench could achieve”, Susana says and says goodbye, walking calmly through the streets handing out flyers and smiles to those who pass by.

The closeness that people feel with Susana is because she is genuine and shows herself as she is, and as a neighbour told her: “it is time for people like you to represent us”.

Source: Pressenza

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Editorials

Celebrating Food Sovereignty | Highlights of Solidarity Actions in October

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Celebrating Food Sovereignty | Highlights of Solidarity Actions in October

In October this year 2021, La Via Campesina together with the rest of the food sovereignty movement celebrated 25 years of peasant-led efforts and campaign to bring food sovereignty to reality. This was a moment reflect and strategize how to continue to resist a model of production driven by greed for profit at all cost. The concept was formally introduced in policy circles in 1996 at the World Food Summit in Rome and later broadened collectively in 2007 and structured in six key pillars to reflect the interests of many vulnerable and often neglected constituencies.The reflections started beginning of the year 2021, and converged on the 16th of October, the day of action for food sovereignty and against transnational corporations (TNCs). On this day, an international webinar on “Food Sovereignty: 25 years building the future” was held.

Elizabeth Mpofu, the outgoing General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, encouraged participants to continue to enrich the concept and build a better societies at a time when the world is at a cross road on many policy issues, of which the ideal food system to solve hunger and poverty is one among many.

The introduction of Food Sovereignty as a collective right has changed how the world understands poverty and hunger, which until recently was shaped by a narrow idea of “Food Security” dominated governance and policy-making circles founded on market ideology. Elizabeth Mpofu said “What is clear to all is that neoliberal policies, capitalism has failed! Now is the time to transform! We have the Peasant Rights Declaration to support the transformation… We have a great challenge before us to convince our governments not only to embrace Food Sovereignty but make and implement policies in favour of Food Sovereignty”.

How did we start to mobilise?

A Call to humanity to take action and unite for food sovereignty against corporate capture of food governance systems with a sloganFood Sovereignty is Land, Water, Seeds, Bread and Solidarity!” was issued in September by La Via Campesina to kick start the mobilisations. In that call, Artists and Writers were also invited to write and draw for food Sovereignty. The Call noted the context in which the 25-year celebration and reflections were happening, a time when the planet and humanity is facing unprecedented crisis upon crisis and that neoliberalism was the cause.

In early October, La Via Campesina issued a statement in October in which Food Sovereignty is a presented as a “Manifesto for the Future of Our Planet, an idea that unites humanity and cares for Mother Earth that feeds and nourishes all living things.

Solidarity Actions: Highlights

Today, the movement for food sovereignty has grown so big and is diverse. This was shown by the many actions and activities that were organised in celebration of the 25 years of this collective construction in all the four corners of the world. Many more actions are still being planned including organising the Nyéléni Global process to broaden and open discussions among movements for food sovereignty globally and will culminate in 2023 with a Nyéléni Global Forum. The academics for food sovereignty are also planning meetings to do critical reflection on the concept and offer views for the future.

Palestine: The Struggle for Food Sovereignty under Occupation

The Israeli occupation deprives Palestinians of their right to food, right to life and right to development. 32.7% of Palestinians overall are food insecure. In the Gaza strip, this figure rises to 68.5%. Israeli occupation still prevents the import of goods and raw materials, as well as the export of agricultural products. In this webinar, listen to farmers and fisherfolks on the frontline in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as international experts and activists.

The International Youth Articulation and the International Collective on Agroecology, Seeds and Biodiversity of La Via Campesina shared their experiences on local agroecology training from a variety of territories from Africa, America, Asia and Europe in a virtual forum full of a strong spirit of building alternatives and continuing on the struggle.

This workshop, hosted by our allies ETC Group and Grain, unpacks the concept of “digitalization” and look at how corporations are pursuing forms of digital agriculture in different parts of the world that undermine peasant-led agroecology and food sovereignty. It will also demystify such concepts as datafication, digital land records, artificial intelligence and fintech.

This online seminar, hosted by FIAN and held on Oct. 13, 2021, unpacked corporate-led false solutions to hunger and the role of states and intergovernmental organizations in tolerating and even promoting such solutions.

  • Agrarian Reform and the Defense of Land and Territories

Hosted by Focus on the Global South, FIAN and La Via Campesina, this webinar discussed the implementation of popular agrarian reform to achieve food sovereignty. Earlier in the month, Focus also hosted a regional dialogue in Asia that brought together some successful initiatives in the region to advance food sovereignty.

Friends of the Earth International as well as Urgenci were among other allies who joined in with more webinars that looked the issue of climate justice in the context of Food Sovereignty. They also carried out workshops that debunked the myth of “Nature Based Solutions”.

La Via Campesina’s Youth Articulation took advantage of the Young Farmers’ Roundtable organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the family farmers’ organizations working on implementing the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF 2019-2028) to call for comprehensive agrarian reform and food sovereignty. “If the villages do not sow, the city cannot eat,” said Micheline Aduel, a young peasant leader from Haiti and the ICC member of La Via Campesina, highlighting the need for and importance of comprehensive agrarian reform.

The regional articulations of La Via Campesina also organized several events, actions and webinars (see #16Oct Gallery) during the month. La Via Campesina members and many other organisations organised also various actions of solidarity, exchanged seeds, planted trees, where conditions permitted street protests were organised, etc.

A series of postcards based on the 1996 Food Sovereignty declaration were developed and are being shared to create wider awareness on the political concept.

 

The Struggle Continues!

This year is a moment for us to amplify the grassroots solutions we have built over the last two decades to bring food sovereignty to our territories. In the month of November, LVC will continue to bring our communication materials, animation videos, postcards and posters to celebrate our collective struggles and build on this global solidarity.

Follow all our articles here: https://viacampesina.org/en/tag/25-years-of-food-sovereignty/

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