farmers' rights

Just days before he was set to speak at the 2013 Trade Union Congress (TUC) Conference in Britain, Colombian union leader Huber Ballesteros was arrested and imprisoned in his home country on trumped-up charges of rebellion and financing terrorism.

Following a prolonged international campaign – in which Britain’s peak trade union body played a key role - Ballesteros was finally released in January after 40 months in jail.

In September, he attended this year’s TUC conference.

The Agricultural Social Production Unit (UPSA) Caquetios, located in Cabudare, in Palavecino municipality, Lara state, is run by the Brazilian Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST). A campesino organisation, the MST shares similar objectives to those of former president Hugo Chavez and the pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution he led – in particular, land collectivisation as the best way to grow food and put an end to rural inequality.

In 2006, the MST was invited to Venezuela to take over a 40-hectare estate as part of Chavez’s attempt to transform Venezuela’s countryside. Since then, the group has been joined by several Venezuelan farmers, with both groups learning new experiences from each other.

[This blog is no longer being updated. Here is an initial report that appears with photos in the latest issue of Green Left Weekly.]

Saturday 23 September, 8am

Local activists posted a pledge on the Front Line Action on Coal facebook page:

There were innumerable horrors committed by El Salvador’s right-wing death-squad government during the civil war that raged from 1980 to 1992. Alongside the peasants and workers killed or disappeared and the nuns raped, were the priests who were executed. The most sensational execution of all was the murder of Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero, gunned down while celebrating mass.

There is a climate emergency. The massive forest fires in Canada, the Lucifer heatwave engulfing southern Europe and Australia experiencing its warmest July on record have all happened within the past fortnight. Yet, Australia’s carbon emissions continue to rise.

The growing movement to prevent the Adani Carmichael coalmine, as well as fossil fuel divestment campaigns, show we are making headway. But activism is not enough.

An open letter from eight former agronomists and soil scientists, including five who worked for the Department of Primary Industries, has urged NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to halt Shenhua’s Watermark coalmine and protect the Liverpool Plains from mining.

The letter said the agreement the government reached last month with Shenhua to renew its coal exploration licence, paving the way for the mine to proceed, puts at risk “the future of one of the major contributors to food and fibre security”.

Peasants across Africa are intensifying their struggles against land grabs and other harmful policies that promote industrial agriculture. At a recent international conference organised by the world’s largest peasant movement, Via Campesina, African peasants had opportunities to share their experiences of struggle and to learn.

“It is amazing to see how linked our struggles are,” said Nicolette Cupido from the Agrarian Reform for Food Sovereignty Campaign (FSC) in South Africa.

A recent expose by the ABC’s Four Corners has alleged significant illegal extraction of water from the Barwon-Darling river system, one of the major tributaries of the Murray River.

Paraguay's lawmakers voted on August 2 in favour of the Financial Rehabilitation bill to support small farmers overwhelmed by debts.

The farmers, who have been holding protests for three weeks in the capital Asuncion, brought the city to a standstill once more prior to the vote.

The legislation, introduced by the progressive Guasu Front, will fund and restructure the debts of small farmers who own less than 30 hectares of land with subsidies of up to US$10,000 a person.

The Queensland Land Court delivered its judgement on Hancock Galilee’s proposed Kevin’s Corner coalmine on July 4. Hancock Galilee is a wholly owned subsidiary of the GVK Group, which also owns the adjacent Alpha mine.

Land court member Wayne Cochrane determined: “There is no basis upon which I should recommend refusal of the grant of the mining lease, notwithstanding that it will convert otherwise useful grazing land into a coalmine.”

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