farmers' rights

Sudan: Poverty, social crisis worsen amid economic collapse

Sudan’s people are bearing the brunt of the country’s deepening economic crisis.

According to Bella Bird, World Bank director for Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, half the population is now living below the poverty line. Last August, Sudanese economist Hassan Satti estimated the real figure would likely exceed 95%.

Marches call for food transparency

About 150 people took to the streets of Brisbane on May 24 to protest against biotechnology corporation Monsanto, one of the foremost proponents of genetically modified (GM) technologies.

The event was part of an international day of action that called for all products with genetically modified organisms to be labelled, Monsanto products to be banned in Australia, and a more transparent handling of GM products by the Australian government.

Speakers described the history of Monsanto and neoliberal laws and free trade agreements that help the corporation.

Who represents Bolivia's highland indigenous peoples?

Bolivian indigenous group the National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ) made headlines this year with its threats to blockade the Dakar rally when it passed through Bolivia's highlands region.

This was not the first time that the group caught the attention of the world’s media. Leaders of CONAMAQ have been regularly quoted in the media due to their outspoken criticism of the government of president Evo Morales ― Bolivia's first indigenous head of state.

The articles frequently describe CONAMAQ as “the main indigenous organisation in Bolivia's highlands”.

Bentley blockade: a win for people power

“A huge win for people power” is how campaigners describe the victory against gas company Metgasco, which had its exploration licence at Bentley suspended by the New South Wales government on May 15.

But it took several years of systematic campaigning to get to this decision.

I spent time at the Bentley blockade over May 17 to 19 and spoke to protectors, organisers and participants who were still shocked at the NSW government’s decision.

Monsanto threatens people and planet

An international March Against Monsanto is scheduled for May 24. Hundreds of events around the world have already been scheduled to protest against the world's biggest agricultural biotechnology company.

Like all capitalist monopolies, Monsanto got to where it is today by being ruthless. There are other big biotech companies with shocking records of disregarding people and planet in pursuit of profit — such as DuPont, Bayer and Dow Chemical — but Monsanto's record is so notorious, it warrants its own special international protest day.

PHOTOS: Thousands join Perth's March in May protest against Abbott's budget

Tens of thousands marched against Abbott government in six cities around Australia on May 18. In Perth, Alex Bainbridge reports more than 2000 people took part. The photos below are by Bainbridge.

See photos of the Sydney March in May and the Melbourne "Bust the budget' protest.

PHOTOS: Sydney's March in May -- thousands oppose Abbott's budget

Tens of thousands marched against Abbott government in six cities around Australia on May 18. The march in Sydney was bigger than the March In March demonstration. Peter Boyle, who took the photos below, estimates it was about 15,000-strong. He said: "It stretched more than two and half times the distance between Central Station and Victoria Park (where it ended). The recent horror budget angered many and the crowd overwhelmingly demanded that the opposition parties block the budget in the Senate -- where they have the numbers until July."

PHOTOS: Melbourne marches to 'bust the budget'

Tens of thousands marched against Abbott government in six cities around Australia on May 18. Despite having been called only four days before, thousands took to the streets in Melbourne to take part in the 'Bust the budget' march. The photos below are by Ali Bakhtiarvandi and Tony Iltis.

See also photos from the Sydney and Perth March in May demonstrations.

Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi:

Colombia: Farmers' strike challenges gov't, pro-corporate 'free trade'

Tensions between the Colombian government and agrarian workers are reaching an all-time high. Strikes that began on April 28 have helped bring the country to a stand-still and sparked student protests violently that were suppressed by police.

The farmers launched strikes in the face of the government’s failure to follow through on promises made after similar strikes last August. The strikers are seeking measures to alleviate rural poverty, among other deep-rooted problems they face.

Voices from Mao's famine

Forgotten Voices of Mao's Great Famine, 1958-1962, An Oral History
By Zhou Xun
Yale University Press, 2013
336 pp, $35.00

In his excellent history book Timelines, John Rees has a graph, which in one image sums up the people’s history contained in Zhou Xun’s Forgotten Voices. The line showing improvements in life expectancy in China suddenly shows a total reversal, a deep plunge into an abyss and then a quick return to the original curve.

This abyss was Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward.

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