From Sept 21 through Oct 1, 2011 several CAGJ members and others joined a Witness for Peace coordinated delegation called ‘Food, Farms, and the Roots of Migration: A journey for food sovereignty to Oaxaca, Mexico’. To learn about future Witness for Peace delegations click here. Stay tuned to CAGJ’s delegation web-page for future food sovereignty delegations as well!
Report from CAGJ Co-Chair Reid Mukai:
Lessons From Oaxaca to the Occupy Movement: A Delegate Reports Back, By Reid Mukai – click here!
Report from CAGJ member Erica Bacon:
Today is day 7 of the delegation- updating is not as easy as I anticipated- our days are packed completely full of programming and activities! We are learning so much about the history and political climate in Oaxaca and have been meeting and learning from many inspiring people. So far we have visited with: Miguel from Educa Oaxaca, an organization working to defend democracy and the human rights of small farmers and indigenous peoples; Amaranth farmers with an organization called Puente, who are reclaiming the cultivation of the nutrient-rich grain native to the diet of indigenous peoples in Mexico prior to Spanish conquest; several small farmers and gardeners affiliated with the Autonomous Network for Food Sovereignty here in Oaxaca (including an amazing women-run oyster mushroom growing project); a local homesteader right outside of the city with a spectacular apricot orchard; Wilfred from UNUSJO, an organization committed to working in the interest of democracy, indigenous rights, women’s rights and agro-ecology in the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca; and today with 2 amazing women with Flor y Canto (which means flower and song) who are advocating for indigenous rights and educating about the impacts of neo-liberalism and globalization within the indigenous community, with a specific focus on water privatization and water rights. Tomorrow we will be leaving the city for a 2 night home stay in the Central Valley, where much of the population of the campo (countryside) we will be visiting has migrated. I look forward to being able to share more thoroughly the stories of the communities that we have been learning from and to help others to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the true causes of migration.
Report from CAGJ member Bobby Righi:
We heard from a young man named Wilfred Mendoza who works with the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez (UNOSJO). He began his presentation by saying that the green revolution had left the lands ruined and the people poor. UNOSJO works actively against GMO corn and promotes sustainable rural economies and they organize workshops on the rights of women. At the end I asked him what he would say to the authorities who tell people like us working in AGRA Watch that we are naive; He said, ¨They should look at the example of indigenous people in Oaxaca and indeed all over Latin America. They are crushed by policies from outside. They should look and Oaxaca and see if the Green Revolution helped us. We are the poorest part of Mexico.¨ He called these kinds of programs ¨low intensity warfare”.
A second small story from one of our visits. This was to RASA, Red Autonoma para la Soberania Alimentaria. We had a chance to sit in small groups at tables and discuss urban gardening with a group of four older men and women who grow mushrooms, tomatoes, celery, fruit, and so much more. One of them, Laurentinea, grew so much celery that she was able to sell to her friends and neighbors for a bit of income and to develop new recipes for using it. We pictured a small farm but it turned out that she grows her vegetables in containers on her small patio! All of these urban farmers could all remember when the land in Oaxaca was much better and they said what ruined the land was the cutting of trees for houses for the rich. This was a common theme we were to hear often: the deforestation of huge areas of the state of Oaxaca. So, I thought to myself, this area was not always dry and arid in the mountains! We later visited a village in the mountains where people have been replanting with native pine trees and also digging countour ditches to retain water.
When I asked Laurentinea if she had children, she told me about her son who left 13 years ago to work in California. She has not seen him since. He has married and has two children who are now in primary school but he and his wife get up at 4am to pick grapes and the children are alone a lot of the time. She has never met her grandchildren. There is no way for them to travel here nor for her to go to California. Despite the fact that her husband died the same year that her son left, she is a warm and cheerful person, finds solace in gardening, and maintains hope that her son will return with his family one day. Just one example of the need to change immigration policy.