2013 Latin America & Caribbean Workshops

Photo (c) by Linda Panetta. Used with permission. Optical Realities - http://www.opticalrealities.org

Have you ever wondered why, if the world produces enough food for everyone, there are close to 1 billion people left hungry? Not only are people left hungry, but small farmers in Latin America are undermined by mining and large-scale monoculture farming, as well as harmful regional trading policies. Yet, when these small farmers and indigenous and Afro-Latino communities try to organize against these trends, they are met with violence and injustice.

Building a Transnational Movement to Respond to the Challenges of the Mining Industry in El Salvador and Central America

Salvadoran civil society, faith-based groups and authorities have strongly expressed their opposition to the development of an open pit metallic mining industry in their country. The rejection results from an increased awareness of the serious social, environmental and economic risks this industry could imply for the country. Two mining corporations, Pacific Rim and Commerce Group, have sued El Salvador under CAFTA provisions, which have increased the pressure on the Salvadoran government and its population. The unbalanced power of extractive industries is not only a matter of El Salvador, but extends throughout all the Americas, including the United States. Communities across the continent are looking at further working together to raise their voice and defend their rights to be consulted on policies and practices that affect their lives. In this workshop, a representative from the National Roundtable on Mining in El Salvador –La Mesa- together with a representative from the US grassroots movement, Manuel Perez- Rocha, from IPS and Sofia Vergara, from Oxfam America will share experiences and discuss with the audiences ways to further advance an already emerging continental grassroots movement that could bring further balance to the forces of power at play.

Speakers: Alexa Smith, Presbyterian Church (USA); Carolina Ascencio, La Mesa; Manuel Perez-Rocha, IPS; Moderator/translator: Sofia Vergara, OXFAM America


An Ecology of Liberation: Communities Practicing Sustainable Agriculture Right Now

Sustainable communities must produce sustainable food, and they have to do it surrounded by unsustainable practices. The workshop will address the need for locally controlled governance in project development, the challenges faced by organizers and farmers as they implement sustainable practices, and will share some of the lessons already learned in implementation. This workshop features two representatives from successful projects in Nicaragua and Haiti that work on issues of sustainable agriculture and food security.

Speakers: Father Claude Cine, Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center, Gros Morne, Haiti; and Miguel Marin, President, FEDICAMP (Federation of Rural Campesinos in Northern Nicaragua); Moderator: Andrew Hochhalter, Quixote Center


Faith, Food and Justice:Lessons from Mexico on International and Local Strategies to a Sustainable Future

Mexico is known as the birthplace of corn and is known for its rich culinary heritage. But sustaining food supply and food security has not been easy, especially with the impacts of global decisions on the livelihoods and food supplies of Mexico’s most marginalized communities. In this session, hear from a leading Mexican researcher on the importance of corn in Mexico and what the current national struggles are. Then hear what one local Christian organization is doing at a grass-roots level to transform lives and lower malnutrition through healthy eating and sustainable farming.

Speakers: Eugenio Arriza, Director, AMEXTRA (The Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Transformation); and Antonio Turrent Fernández, National Researcher Emeritus of INIFAP (National Institute of Forest, Agriculture and Livestock Research.


Haiti Reconstruction Efforts and Challenges for Sustainable Agriculture

It has been three years since Haiti experienced the most devastating natural disaster in the country’s history. Promises to “Build Back Better” have ignored the voices of Haitian civil society, especially hundreds of thousands of peasant farmers who constitute the country’s backbone and still produce nearly 40 percent of the country’s food. As Haiti’s leaders promote a business-led model of development in Haiti, the country’s capacity to feed itself is further endangered. Throughout Haiti, peasant organizations and their allies are demonstrating that reconstruction and sustainable agriculture centered on food sovereignty and food security are not mutually incompatible. This workshop will discuss the challenges and possibilities of sustainable agriculture in Haiti through discussions with representatives of Haitian peasant organizations and their allies.

Speakers: Louisiane Nazaire, Coordinator, National Coordination of Women Farmers; Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, Agronomist and Founder, Peasant Movement of Papaye; Herode Guillomet, Director, Christian Center for Integrated Development; and Rosnel Jean-Baptiste, Coordinator, National Executive Committee, Heads Together Small Peasant Producers of Haiti.


Land and Food Justice: Monoculture and Conflict in Central America

Conflicts over land are deeply embedded in Central America’s history, but are not only a thing of the past. As countries have sought investment to expand agriculture and exports, concentration of land in African palm and sugar production, in particular, has displaced communities and undermined rural livelihoods. This workshop will discuss experiences in Guatemala and Honduras that illustrate how loss of land to such monocultures has violated rights, harmed the environment and exacerbated food insecurity.

Speakers: Laura Hurtado, Oxfam, Guatemala; Annie Bird, Rights Action; Moderator: Kelsey Alford-Jones, Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA

Topper photo (c) Linda Panetta. Used with permission.

Contributing Sponsors & Partner Organizations