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http://www.ifpri.org/publication/scaling-agriculture-rural-developm...

Lessons learned about scale. Worth looking into!

Un article super de n'GO sur SALT! 

N'hésitez pas à vous abonner au magazine

JL

Attachments:

Not on Our Land: Land Recovery Campaign Kicks Off in Honduras

Carla Garcia Introduction by Beverly Bell and Lauren Elliott

August 28, 2012

In what many indigenous people call a “second coming of Columbus,” globalization and its twin offspring of resource exploitation and mega development threaten the survival of indigenous and small-farming communities all over our world. But as widespread as the threat is the response by organized peoples. The strategies for stopping the destruction of their land, claiming their rights to it, and protecting their way of life are diverse - land occupations, protests, and legal claims. Though movements are challenged at every step and are still on the defensive, victories in their own communities dot the world map. Meanwhile, they are gathering strength through cross-border alliances.

In Honduras, 300 leaders of the Afro-Indigenous Garífuna people are saying, “Not on our land.” On Monday, they and their allies around the world launched the Land Recovery Campaign in the village of Vallecito which, with 2,500 acres, is the largest single landholding of the Garífuna people. There, they are occupying land that was taken from them to build mega-tourism projects.

“In strength, the Garífuna community in Honduras fought to defend the country against invasion and, in strength, the Garífuna community fights today to defend our land,” says Carla Garcia, a human rights organizer with the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras, OFRANEH.

In 2009, the Honduran elite backed a military coup d’état in an effort to suppress the strengthening grassroots movements for land reform and indigenous sovereignty. The US government went on to tacitly support the coup regime even though WikiLeak documents show it knew the coup was illegal and unconstitutional. [i] Since the coup, developers have been emboldened to take land from small-farming and indigenous communities. When communities have peacefully resisted these land grabs, they've faced intimidation and assassinations. Just this month, the Garífuna community of Trujillo awakened one morning to find their fresh-water lagoon – their main water source – poisoned, with all the life of the lagoon floating dead at the surface.

Just this morning OFRANEH wrote to their international allies about the ongoing intimidation in Vallecito, where their Defense of the Land campaign is underway. “Another long night of machine gun fire and armed men entering the Garífuna camp in Vallecito... Despite owning titles to six cooperatives, the Garifunas is unable to exercise their right to this property...”

Below, Carla Garcia speaks about the ongoing land struggle in the Garífuna communities. An open conference call with Carla and OFRANEH’s president Miriam Miranda from the occupation in Vallecito will take place on Wednesday, August 29 at 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. To get information on joining this call or to offer financial support to OFRANEH, contact Stephen Bartlett of Agricultural Missions at sbartlett@ag-missions.org or (502) 896-9171. Please consider calling Honduran government officials and asking them to ensure the safety of the campaign participants – in the past two days international pressure has proven essential.

For 215 years we have lived in harmony with the environment. We know that without land we have no future.

We’ve taken care of our surroundings and now our region is really desirable. Economically powerful men and women want to build [what we call] ‘industry without smokestacks,’ the tourist industry, here. Our titles say that Garífuna land is nontransferable because it is common land. It doesn’t belong to any one person. So through deceit and fraud, [developers have] acquired Garífuna land for tourism development, but it’s not development that’s benefiting the surrounding community.

OFRANEH has been working principally with land issues for more than 30 years. Today we're well-organized. We struggle, we fight, we write letters and try to tell people about our struggle. Even during the coup d’état, OFRANEH never stopped protesting.

But the coup taught us a big lesson. It taught us to fear. If they could do that to the president, what could they do to us? But we also learned that fear won’t get us anywhere, and now people are back to protesting, fighting for their rights, stronger than ever.

But there is so much maneuvering… They [the government and developers] try to weaken us from one side and then the other but we’re going to keep fighting.

We have a problem with the Charter City, which is going to be inside Garífuna land. They say that region is sparsely populated, but there are about 20,000 of us living there. Twenty thousand Garífunas would have to leave and find somewhere else to live, only coming back when the Charter City is built to see if they can work there. There is one community with many elderly people who wouldn't be able to work in the Charter City.

There was a project to build a dock for cruise ships supported by the government. The president even came to inaugurate it. They chose to develop in Rio Negro, where the land was titled individually. The people were pressured to sell their plots, told that if they didn’t, tourism and development would never come to their community. They were paid a small amount for their land and promised jobs and 10% of the profits of the dock after it was built. [Then, the developers] fenced off the beach and wouldn’t let the community of Rio Negro access it. For a community that lives off fishing and the ocean, not having access to the beach is a huge problem in terms of basic subsistence. Today, the dock project hasn’t even started. This is an example of problems the whole Garífuna community is facing.

The government is also taking away our right to be Garífunas. It’s a great way for the government to keep taking our land, by making us disappear as a people with a culture. They want to categorize us as “African-descent.” We reject the term because we have our indigenous mother. We’re Afro-Indigenous. We're Garífuna.

Nobody is going to give up here. In each community we have Defense of the Land Committees. And through community radio, people can now open their eyes and see what’s happening in their communities. Through the radio we’re saying, “We’re against those that sell their land, we’re against those that buy land. We are starting international proceedings [against those taking our land].” Before it was very difficult to communicate this to everyone.

Last year we started legal proceedings against Randy Jorgensen [one of the major developers on Garífuna land] because his purchase of Garífuna lands has no legal basis. We’re also prosecuting the Garífuna people and community leaders that sell their land. We don’t want them to go to jail, but we do want them to learn their lesson and for our children and young people to learn that we have to take care of our land.

But we have many deficiencies because we don’t have enough money to do everything. Our poverty marks the difference between us and our aggressors. We are forced to struggle precisely because we're poor. The government has money, foreign investors have money. We have our mission: we’re from the people, with the people, for the people and any organization that doesn’t have that mission is not one with whom we relate.

Well, we know the people of the United States have the same cultural value that we do: open doors, where everyone can live in communion and solidarity. However, just like we have people in our communities that are undesirable, so too does the US. There are people there with a lot of money, to whom destroying a community or a way of life matters very little. And we know, even as we go to the US to make international demands against Washington, that the people of the US can help us. We need you to tell people that we’re having problems. And not just us; this is happening to all the African and Indigenous communities of Latin America. Don’t stay quiet.

The Garífuna community is very strong, always. In strength, [indigenous] men and women left [their original land in] Orinoco because of fights with other tribes and went to San Vicente [where the Garífuna people originated] to survive. In strength, our African men escaped from their slave ships and came to San Vicente. In strength, the Garífuna community fought the French and the English. In strength, the Garífuna community in Honduras fought to defend the country against invasion and, in strength, the Garífuna community fights today to defend our land.

[i] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/wikileaks-honduras-stat...

Photo caption: Garífuna meet during their ongoing Defense of the Land campaign. Here they have occupied land stolen from them in the village of Vallecito. Photo by OFRANEH.

Many thanks to Tim Burke for volunteering his time to transcribe and translate this and many other interviews.

Beverly Bell has worked for more than three decades as an advocate, organizer, and writer in collaboration with social movements in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the US. Her focus areas are just economies, democratic participation, and gender justice. Beverly currently serves as associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and coordinator of Other Worlds. She is author of Walking on Fire: Haitian Women Stories of Survival and Resistance and of the forthcoming Fault Lines: Views Across Haiti’s Divide.

Lauren Elliott is the program associate at Other Worlds.

Copyleft Beverly Bell and Lauren Elliott. You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Beverly Bell and Lauren Elliott, Other Worlds.

YOU CAN’T EVER STOP BEING VIGILANT:
THE ROLE OF ALTERNATIVE MEDIA IN PROTECTING DEMOCRACY
http://www.otherworldsarepossible.org/other-worlds/you-can-t-ever-s...

By Beverly Bell
September 5, 2012

Beverly Bell interviews Leslie Thatcher, content relations editor at Truthout, one of a number of independent, non-commercial news sites that offer an alternative to corporate-controlled media. In a world where corporations are considered persons and a few individuals are funding the lion’s share of the presidential elections, independent media is critical to keeping citizens informed and motivated defenders of democracy.

Beverly Bell: Can you please start by telling us how you define alternative media?

Leslie Thatcher: I would define alternative media as media not controlled by mega-corporations or big business or very wealthy people. It is not necessarily progressive. Probably there are some AstroTurf alternative media out there, outlets that appear to be independent but are funded by the people who fund right-wing think tanks and other ideological ventures.

On the internet, you hardly need anything more than a computer to start a website. So that’s probably the simplest place to do alternative media. But there’ve always been alternative media. I’m old enough to remember when alternative media were mimeographed pamphlets you handed out at colleges and demonstrations and things like that.

BB: And for people who care about constructing alternatives to the world we live in that’s governed by money and corrupt power, how do you view media as a vehicle?

LT: We hope that by reporting what’s really happening, we’ll be able to change things because once people understand what’s happening, they’ll respond to it, rise up and do something about it.

Alternative media is hopefully not controlled by the dominant storyline in America, which I once heard someone describe as, “Everything is really okay. No matter what’s happening, it’s all right; just go out there and buy stuff.” And that’s whether it’s NPR or Time Warner or Fox. Whatever they’re reporting on, it seems to lull people to sleep or alarm them in ways that are not constructive. The things that they want you to respond to are putative threats, instead of what I would define as the real threats to our autonomy, our democracy, our integrity as human beings, real threats to life and love.

So I really strongly feel that I’m doing this because it gives me the opportunity every day to offer an alternative to the prevalent worldview in this country. Though sometimes I wonder whether it’s really the prevalent worldview or whether it’s simply the one that’s dosed out to us. People in communities that are not white, that are not middle class, certainly have a different view of the world, I think, from the one that prevails in mainstream media.

BB: How do you feel that alternative media is doing in moving toward the goal you articulated?

LT: Well, of course, we’d like it to be doing better than it is, always, at any moment in time. But I translated my first Op-Ed from Le Monde for Truthout in December of 2002. At that time it was possible to read French newspapers and find not just opinions, but actual facts about what was going on in the world that were not available anywhere in the English language. Today, that is no longer the case. There is enough alternative media out there that you can find a great deal of information.

There’s also success in terms of how much impact it has. I think part of that also has to do with how much people generally have come to distrust media.

BB: How do you see the battle for freedom of speech and against government surveillance and restrictions?

LT: I think we’re under threat all the time. Corporate interests introduce SOPA [Stop Online Piracy Act] in Congress, and there's public outrage and the act doesn't pass and then there’s something new, and it’s just never-ending. You can’t ever stop being vigilant. I think one of the great political lessons of the last almost 40 years is that you have to continually be vigilant about everything. You just have to be alert to threats to the media, to its independence, all the time. And keep informed about what legislation is relevant to us, and what the ownership and/or control structures are for the media that we rely on for information.

Also, the Israelis have a term for official government propaganda, which is hasbara, disinformation. Well, we are subject to - or subjected to, more accurately - the same thing in this country, even though that’s illegal.

BB: What would you say, from where you sit at Truthout, gives you the most hope today?

LT: The very fact that we at Truthout live and die every month by the support of our readers, and that it’s been forthcoming all this time, is certainly a cause of hope. It speaks to the viability of bringing people the most reliable information we can, information that addresses the questions most relevant to how we all conduct ourselves as citizens in at least a putative democracy. The other thing at Truthout that’s really astounding to me is the quality and the depth of submissions that we receive from people who are not trained journalists but who are concerned citizens, educated citizens. Every day I’m blown away by the quality of citizen journalism and the commitment of people to these stories.

Outside of my job, it's Occupy – its antecedents and offshoots – that gives me the most hope. Dissent is not dead, nor is the consciousness that we need new forms of consciousness and societal organization.

BB: As one example of alternative media, how would you describe the experience of Truthout in inspiring hope? In inspiring the belief that things don’t have to be the way they are?

LT: Truthout’s mission statement is ‘We work to spark action by revealing systemic injustice and providing a platform for transformative ideas through in-depth investigative reporting and critical analysis.’ I honestly feel we do a better job of that all the time. And I’d say our readers do also.

We are marinating in a society that deliberately blinds us to the real threats to a way of life that I, at least, consider very precious. And I’m not talking about consumer comforts, but the idea that we live in a democracy. Even though it’s always been imperfect and it’s never been for all of our citizens, at least it should be our goal as citizens to enjoy. That very possibility is threatened by the environmental situation and by the control of our society by an ignorant and selfish elite. I don’t understand what planet our elite think they’re going to live on after they’ve extracted everything of value from this one and transformed it into shit.

BB: Is there anything else that you would like to say?

LT: Whoever is reading this, I urge them to think about: What do they care about most in their life? What are their real priorities? And what are they doing to make sure that future generations will be able to enjoy those priorities?

And for people who think that they’re safe: history has proven again and again that unless all of us are comfortable and safe and secure, no one really is. I really saw this when I lived in Eastern Europe briefly in 1990, right after the fall of the Berlin Wall. No one who’s read any history should be under any illusions that you’re safe unless your neighbors are.

 

Beverly Bell has worked for more than three decades as an advocate, organizer, and writer in collaboration with social movements in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the U.S. Her focus areas are just economies, democratic participation, and gender justice. Beverly currently serves as associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and coordinator of Other Worlds, and is a member of the advisory board of Truthout. She is author of Walking on Fire: Haitian Women Stories of Survival and Resistance and of the forthcoming Fault Lines: Views Across Haiti’s Divide.

 Copyleft Beverly Bell. You may reprint this article in whole or in part.  Please credit any text or original research you use to Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.

 


 

The Day after the Elections

Or: Woody Guthrie’s Country

 

By Beverly Bell

November 1, 2012

 

While all eyes and ears are trained on the elections, Woody Guthrie, whose 100th birthday we celebrate this year, offers up another perspective on politics. In his poem “This Is Our Country,” he wrote, “I seen the pretty and I seen the ugly and it was because I knew the pretty part that I wanted to change the ugly part. Because I hated the dirty part that I knew how to feel the love for the cleaner part.”

 

Before getting to the pretty and the clean: The ugly and dirty in government policies and laws are on stark display right now. Those along Hurricane Sandy’s route are reeling in the climate-change backlash of government negligence on the environment. Corporations, which are defined as persons in the Constitution, have been given carte blanche to run roughshod over the economy, elections, many politicians, and national food and agriculture systems. Collective bargaining and labor organizing rights have been all but destroyed. Vital social services for those without safety nets have shrunk. Foreign-born people are increasingly criminalized, and Muslims are persecuted with endlessly evolving creativity. (Just this Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal of the Holy Land Five, meaning that five men will spend from 15 to 65 years in prison for making contributions to Palestinian groups.) The ugliness is exhibited in the assassination by drone of those on Obama’s “kill list,” and a lot of others who just happen to be nearby. We see it in trade policies that allow the plundering of indigenous territories throughout Latin America. The litany of wrongs fills libraries.

 

Of course the Democrats and the Republicans are distinct. Yet we should be honest and admit that these and many other ills have been created and perpetuated by administrations and congresses of both parties.

 

As for that pretty and clean, we’re awash in it, too. The engagement of citizens (no matter from which country) over time, notably organized in progressive people’s movements and grassroots defenders, have helped make and keep it so. We can thank the slavery abolition and women’s suffrage movements, and the populist, anarchist, socialist, and labor union movements. For some of the best of what our society offers today, we can tip our hats to the movements for civil rights and Black power, Native American sovereignty and Chicano power, feminism and womanism, rights for LGBTQ and people with disabilities, ecology and environmental justice, and so many others.

 

Right now we have activists and the NGO swarm (as a Rand Corporation study famously called non-profits as they go after a political target) focused on climate change. They’re deployed through the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas, where protesters have been in trees for more than a month to block pipeline construction (the most recent in more than a year of nation-wide protests), plus the actions of 350.org and many others. The past year has seen the rise of the Occupy and the 99% movements, which have brought to the center of attention the urgency of reigning in corporate capitalism and redistributing wealth. We have groups seeking to wrest political power from the corporations and put it into the hands of the people, led by Public Citizen, Public Campaign, Move to Amend, and friends. We have a powerful farmworker movement in the form of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which just won a campaign to get Chipotle Mexican Grill to sign onto the Fair Food Program. This is the Coalition’s eleventh victory among large retailers, moving us closer to a national supply of fruits and vegetables that are harvested with dignity, rights, and fair wages. The U.S. is full of those trying to claim economic justice for low-income and working people and people of color, spearheaded through such groups as the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (whose national coordinator, Cheri Honkala, is running for vice-president on the Green Party slate), Jobs with Justice, Justice for Janitors, Right to the City Alliance, and Women’s Economic Agenda Project – to name a few. Young people have put their education and livelihoods on the line and risked deportation to campaign for the DREAM Act, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth. We have networks defending Native peoples’ lands and resources, along with the rights of Mother Earth, propelled by the Indigenous Environment Network, White Earth Land Recovery Project, and a host of others. We are home to a movement to stop the U.S. wars, led by groups like Courage to Resist, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, and Friends Committee on National Legislation. (You can read about many more committed and effective movements and organizations at www.otherworldsarepossible.org.)

 

So along comes the first Tuesday in November. For more months than I care to remember, obsession with the elections has eclipsed the threats to life and rights, and the viable solutions to them. I will vote, since I am not a member of the expanding social sectors whose votes are being suppressed. (And if you want to stand up for the full enfranchisement for which the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965, look to the NAACP for guidance). And I will hope it gets counted fairly, since I don’t live in Florida or Ohio.

 

And then we’ll face the morning after. As I make my political action to-do list for that day and those that succeed it, I’ll remember my friend Francisco of the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil, whose millions of members work mighty hard to build direct democracy in their communities and their nation. I once spent several weeks in the cooperatively owned and self-governed land reform settlement where Francisco lives. His family and about 100 others won the vast tract after a fierce political and legal battle and a two-year occupation, during which they lived in plastic tents and faced repeated violence. At the end of my stay, as Francisco waited with me for a bus that would take me back to São Paulo, he said, “You know a lot by now about how democracy works in our country. How does it work in yours?” I replied, “You might not believe this, but the main political preoccupation of most people in the U.S. is whether a Republican or Democrat occupies the White House.” He looked at me hard, I think judging if I were serious. Then he said, “That’s barbaric.”

 

When Clinton and Obama were elected, a lot of liberals and progressives sat back and said, “Whew! Okay, we can take a break now.” We saw the same when integrity-filled presidents came to power on the heels of tyranny in the Philippines (1986), Haiti (1990), and South Africa (1994). As we saw demonstrated in the let-downs (for very different reasons) of those five administrations and a lot more since, we cannot take a break. We cannot leave it to a head of state – any head of state, ever - to guard democracy and public well-being.

 

When November 7 rolls around, I’ll recall – and I hope you will, too - that democracy is partially safeguarded (or not) by what we do in those little voting booths, but even more so what we do the other 364 days of the year. We’ll have to get cracking, because we have a big job ahead of us. Cleaning up the dirtiest parts of this country will take a lot of elbow grease and moxie, and we can’t trust the job to the president. We can get involved in fights for justice and equity, and be government watchdogs, on any issues we feel passionate about. We can join up with the groups above, or start one in our own community. Some organizations put out regular action alerts to make our work easier, like Color of Change, Avaaz, and Amnesty International. But clicking a button to sign a petition should be our starting point, not our ending point.

 

Another thing I’ll do on November 7, no matter who wins: put Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” on the jukebox and dance my heart out. I hope you’ll be on the dance floor, too, so that together we can stomp and clap and make enough noise so the new president will have to pay attention. And I, for one, will sing along especially loudly to the three verses that are almost always excised:

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "private property."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, in the shadow of a steeple,

By the relief office, I've seen my people.

As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,

Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

And from then on, we – which I hope will include you, too - will be listening and asking hard questions. We will refuse to consent, comply, or capitulate to what is foul in our political and economic systems. We will continue defending the best of what we have and mobilizing to do away with the worst, through building our activist networks and communities and unions, educating, protesting, taking legal action, and changing laws. We will endeavor to reclaim democracy and set the government on the path toward a land that is truly for you and me, for all of us.

 

 

You can hear more of Woody Guthrie’s poem “This is Our Country” and songs on John McCutcheon’s inspired new tribute album, This Land: Woody Guthrie’s America. Don’t miss Guthrie’s own recordings, or what was written on the guitar he played on those recordings: “This machine kills fascists.” You can read his story and many more of his thoughts in his autobiography Bound for Glory.

 

With appreciation for Robert Naiman, Deepa Panchang, Larry Cohen, and Leslie Thatcher, for so many reasons.

 

Beverly Bell has worked for more than three decades as an advocate, organizer, and writer in collaboration with social movements in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the U.S. Her focus areas are just economies, democratic participation, and gender justice. Beverly currently serves as associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and coordinator of Other Worlds. She is author of Walking on Fire: Haitian Women Stories of Survival and Resistance and of the forthcoming Fault Lines: Views Across Haiti’s Divide.

 

Follow Other Worlds on Twitter and Facebook!

 

  Copyleft Beverly Bell. You may reprint this article in whole or in part.  Please credit any text or original research you use to Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.

“MRS. CLINTON CAN HAVE HER FACTORIES”:

A HAITIAN SWEATSHOP WORKER SPEAKS

 

By Beverly Bell

 


Marjorie Valcelat. Photo by Ansel Herz.

 

Marjorie Valcelat ran an embroidery machine in a factory from 2005 to 2008. She says the experience made her so sick and weak that she’s not felt able to work since then.

 

I had three children I had to take care of; their father had left. And since I hadn’t had enough schooling, I didn’t have the skills to do much. So I said to myself, “I’m going to work at a factory.” When I got there, they showed me how to run the machines to embroider slips and nightshirts. I spent a month training, but during that time they didn’t pay me; I had to pay them for the training.

 

If I had met the quota, every two weeks I would have made 1,250 gourdes [US$30.00]. Yep, that’s it. But I couldn’t meet the quota, because embroidery wasn’t my specialty. I did what I could. Sometimes they paid me 500 gourdes [US$12.50], sometimes 400 gourdes [US $9.50], every two weeks. I needed to support my family and I couldn’t survive.

 

Then when the machine broke and I called the mechanics to fix the machine – you put a red cloth on the machine so they’d know it’s broken – they wouldn’t come because I was so scrawny. The big women, the ones with the fat bottoms that they can feel up, the mechanics would go fix their machines. I had been in good shape, big, but the machine and those lights were sucking me dry. So I could never get the machine fixed [so I could keep embroidering] and that put me even more under quota.

 

It was such misery. And then, I had to travel from far away. There were times when I had to get on the road at 4:00 in the morning, but there’d be traffic jams and I still couldn’t arrive on time. At 6:00, they would close the entrance gates. That would mean that I got all the way there, but then I had to turn around and break my back to return home, and they never paid me. And I’d still have to pay the two bus fares, 20 gourdes [47 cents], and where was I supposed to get that money? Sometimes I had to borrow money just to get to work. 

 

You didn’t even have time to eat. They’d let you out at 11:00, and then they’d ring the bell before 11:30. You had to return. There were people who’d throw out the rest of their food because they didn’t have enough time to eat. Sometimes the vendors near the plant would run out of food, and you’d have to spend a lot of time trying to find food [further away]. If you got back after 11:30 to find the gates closed, you lost the whole day.

 

And then oftentimes, because you had to move so fast, the needle would break inside your finger. One person I knew, the needle sewed through her finger and to this day, she still can’t use it.

 

I thought I would do better over time, but I got worse because my muscles got too weak. The last time I was paid, I got 190 gourdes [US$4.52] for two weeks. I had just gone [to the factory] so the children could go to school and their life could be better than mine. I said to myself, “Well, I don’t need to come here any more. I’d best quit this.”

 

When I left the factory, I was so angry that when I passed the woman who’d cooked the food I had bought for lunch, I just gave her all the money and went on my way.

 

Me, if I had a message I could send to the higher-ups: there will always be factories, because they’ve always existed, crushing the poor. I don’t speak for other people, and some people will still go work in the factories. But Mrs. Bill Clinton will never see me working there. [As Secretary of State, she promoted the expansion of the export assembly industry.] I will never go to whatever factory Mrs. Clinton opened.

 

We need another model, we do. I could understand if [the US government] came to Haiti and wanted to build schools, because so many schools were destroyed and a lot of children are in the streets. If [they] worked alongside people like this, reconstructing schools, building some health centers, well, that would be better than a factory. 

 

Mrs. Clinton can have her factories. Me and my children, we’ll take the health centers.

 

Many thanks to Lynn Selby for translating Marjorie Valcelat’s interview.

 

 

Stay tuned for Beverly Bell’s new book, Fault Lines: Views across Haiti’s Divide, coming out in June from Cornell University Press. Read more from Other Worlds here, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Beverly Bell has worked for more than three decades as an advocate, organizer, and writer in collaboration with social movements in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the U.S. Her focus areas are just economies, democratic participation, and gender justice. Beverly currently serves as associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and coordinator of Other Worlds. She is author of Walking on Fire: Haitian Women Stories of Survival and Resistance and of the forthcoming Fault Lines: Views Across Haiti’s Divide.

  Copyleft Beverly Bell. You may reprint this article in whole or in part.  Please credit any text or original research you use to Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.

Facing Off: The Integration of Capital V. The Integration of Peoples in the Americas

from a speech by João Pedro Stédile,

Co-coordinator of the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil

 Edited by Beverly Bell

João Pedro Stédile is an economist, co-founder and co-coordinator of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) of Brazil, and leader among Latin American social movements. He gave the following talk to hundreds of Haitian farmers at the 40th anniversary assembly of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) on March 18, 2013.

I’d like to bring to you the perspective of the Landless Workers Movement on this complex historic moment, and on the social movements we’re building in Latin America.

Just when it seemed like the capitalist system was eternal, a crisis in the system exploded in 2008. The first consequence has been the ideological defeat of neoliberalism, because neoliberalism says that the market will resolve everything, and that idea has been shot down. The second consequence has been the decline of the political power of the US. They still have the strength but no one believes in them anymore. On the contrary, the whole world is mad at the gringo capital.

Periods of crisis in capitalism are always a sign that the door is open for change in the world, but at this point, we don’t know in which direction. For that reason it’s very important what [deceased Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez told us: study, reflect, and comprehend reality in order to be able to change it.

At this moment, there is a strong project of recolonization of the continent according to the US’s interests. We defeated them with the Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA), but now they come with their military forces, bilateral trade treaties with Mexico and with Colombia and with Chile, a treaty for the Pacific, and the control of Central America and the Carribean. And all of the politics of Obama are in that direction: reconquer the continent for the interests of his businesses. Don’t be fooled by the color of his skin; he is a representative of gringo capitalism.

There’s also a sector of the domestic bourgeoisie in our countries that wants to profit from our riches. They propose a international integration, but of the capitalist type. Companies from Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia are running around Latin America making investments and profits, with the support of those governments.

But another key element of this moment is that of integration among our peoples. No people from a single country can liberate itself, because the enemy now is international capitalism with its banks and its companies. In all countries of Latin America, for example, Monsanto controls the transgenetic seeds and the agrochemicals, the market for corn and soy. It finances our governments, buying senators, congresspeople, mayors, and yes, even bishops to bless the transgenic seeds. So, when you rise up against Monsanto here in Haiti, you are helping all of the farmers of Latin America. When we in Brazil take experimental farms from Monsanto and destroy them, we are also helping all of Latin America.

To help us integrate and fight our common enemies, we have to have programs of economic integration. We have to fight against the dollarization of our economies, and force our governments to create a new Latin American-wide currency. It’s essential that the governments on the left and the progressives of Latin America leave the sphere of the dollar. Chávez even proposed a name for this new currency, the sucre.

We also have to build up our integration through communication. In the old days, the capitalists used the churches to dominate us ideologically. Now they can’t, so they use the television. But the television is just an instrument of communication, so it can be a weapon of education as well. And for that reason as well, Chávez was a visionary. He proposed that we construct TeleSUR, a Latin American TV network under the control of the people, to deliver news.

In the political field, we in the South are advancing with the construction of the [regionally integrated] Southern Zone and, throughout all of Latin America, CELAC [the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States]. This is very important because CELAC is the grave of the OAS [Organization of American States], the political arm of the gringos. It was the OAS that first proposed MINUSTAH [UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, the UN force occupying the country] and that provided soldiers. If we had only CELAC, which doesn’t include Canada and the US, there would be no foreign troops in Haiti.

For integration among our peoples, we also have to educate a new generation of youth for liberation. The capitalists want the youth only for consuming drugs and cell phones, but we need them to be teachers and doctors and engineers. Here Fidel gave us a great lesson with the construction of the ELAM [the Latin American School of Medicine], that’s a great school for training doctors. I want to tell you that in Brazil, more Black doctors have been trained in Cuba than in all of the faculties of medicine in Brazil. Put another way, the poor of Brazil that want to be doctors go to Cuba. We in Via Campesina [the worldwide coalition of farmers, peasants, and landless people] are doing our part by creating a network of agro-ecology schools.

What you are doing here in this school [the agro-ecology training center of the Peasant Movement of Haiti] is revolutionary. It’s anti-imperialist. It’s anti-capitalist. The imperialists want to control our seeds to control our plates and our lives. Building a school of agro-ecology in the countryside, and taking control of your seeds, is the same as building a fort of guerrillas. Guerrillas of Black descent.

We need to take one more step in integrating peoples, which is to organize mass struggles. When people stay seated, they’re no good for anything. We have to put our energy in each country to build struggles against our principal enemies: the banks, the transnational companies, and the media controlled by the bourgeoisie. And I hope we will join together the fights from our countries and create a common struggle. I hope we achieve very soon one united battle to definitively defeat Monsanto, Nestlé in milk, Cargill in corn, and mining companies.

To conclude: I’d like you to understand that the situation in Latin America in this moment is in a permanent face-off between [capitalist integration and integration of the peoples]. This face-off occurs from the setting of prices in the seed market to every governmental election. The enemies are the same, so to defeat them, we have to unite and undertake continent-wide actions.

 

For more information on the MST, on the farmer-led mass movement against Monsanto and corporate agriculture, and on the worldwide campaign for food sovereignty, please see Other Worlds’ new book,Harvesting Justice: Transformations in Food, Land, and Agriculture ....

Many thanks to Paige Schneider, Tim Burke, and Ereeni Roulakis for transcribing and translating this presentation.

 

Stay tuned for Beverly Bell’s new book, Fault Lines: Views across Haiti’s Divide, coming out in June from Cornell University Press. Read more from Other Worlds here, and follow us onFacebook and Twitter!

Beverly Bell has worked for more than three decades as an advocate, organizer, and writer in collaboration with social movements in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the U.S. Her focus areas are just economies, democratic participation, and gender justice. Beverly currently serves as associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and coordinator of Other Worlds. She is author ofWalking on Fire: Haitian Women Stories of Survival and Resistance and of the forthcoming Fault Lines: Views Across Haiti’s Divide.

Copyleft Beverly Bell. You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Beverly Bell, Other Worlds.

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