Nothing sweet about land grabs

Each time  I reach for the  sugar I will think of a  little boy who is paid £1.60 for a ten hour day.

Report by Kate Hodal of the Guardian.

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Walking in the shoes of others

Land Grabs, unfair pricing, evictions and how it feels to be powerless are just a few of the issues that youngsters from local schools will experience this week. Lee House, home of VinB, became a hive of activity on Monday as Trustees and volunteers prepared resources for the first of a series of ‘Dollar a Day’ events that have been grant funded by CAFOD.
For this event youngsters will have the opportunity step into the life of an indigenous tribe whose survival is threatened by corporate development!

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OXFAM shines a light

oxfamSpotlightDuring the two days that the G8 meet in Northern Ireland, $2.2 billion dollars in illicit flows will have haemorrhaged from developing countries into tax havens and developing-country land one and a half times the size of Manhattan will be sold off to foreign investors.

Read press release.

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GRAB … grab … grabbing

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Howling at the G8

Oxfam’s Adam Musgrave is busy packing for the G8 summit in Enniskillen next week and is adding to his bags, in best Harry Potter style, two HOWLERS to send to the assembled politicians.



Every year, developing countries lose more than $160 billion to just one type of corporate tax dodging – enough to eradicate hunger more than three times over!




Already, G8 companies and investors have bought land in developing countries more than the size of the whole of Ireland since the year 2000. This land could grow enough food for 96 million people.

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Oziel’s web of influence

ozielMeet Oziel Gabriel.  A member of the Terena tribe who was protesting over land grabs in Sidrolandia, part of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sulclashes, when he was shot dead by police according to fellow tribesmen who took pictures and video of the incident and then immediately posted them on Facebook.

According to Joao Fellet, of BBC Brazil, it took only hours to make headlines abroad, which prompted an unusually speedy response from the Brazilian Justice Minister who called for an immediate investigation. Students from the tribes are increasingly adopting the power of social media to raise awareness of their plight within Brazil.  When the national media fails indigenous groups maybe harnessing the power of ‘virtual activism’ will have a greater impact!

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Land grabs = fuel for cars = hunger

Promoted as a green solution to the our energy needs, biofuels are now an integral part of the EU’s energy policy. So we breathe a sigh of relief and think it’s an answer to renewable energy until we become aware that as much as 60% of the land taken through land grabbing maybe taken out of food production and put into bio mass crops. Multinationals are trying to displace Guarani communities in Brazil, and turn the land to growing sugar cane for ethanol production. The sad thing being that growing crops to feed our cars provides more profit than growing crops to feed the hungry. Action Aid are doing a great job bringing this message home.

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A modern day David v Goliath

You sometimes wonder how successful an individual can be in taking on the might of large corporations. This Channel 4 news story describes one woman’s fight against the largest oil company in South America. Now there’s a challenge!

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What hope for land Reform?

I could not understand why the government’s  policy on land reform in Brazil was  moving so slowly, despite reading about the  departments set up for the purpose  and huge amounts of money being poured into them.

I knew corruption was an issue and that  speculative investment was a factor in  land grabbing, but was bemused  to learn  that  government ministries  have been set up that have conflicting interests.  For  example the ministry of Agriculture (mApA)   deals with agribusiness, while the ministry of Agrarian Development (mDA) ministry which  deal with agrarian reform.  You can easily imagine   the difficulties this is  going to cause.

layofthelandYou can read more about this in  Lay of the Land p.15-17  research  carried out by ActionAid.

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Can two wrongs make a right?

Indian children from Xavantes attend a fight ritual at Maraiwatsede tribe in Mato Grosso, about 375 miles (600 km) northwest of Brasilia, February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

Indian children from Xavantes attend a fight ritual at Maraiwatsede tribe in Mato Grosso, about 375 miles (600 km) northwest of Brasilia, February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

The Xavante tribe  are back, fifty years after they were evicted from their  land. The government have recently  redressed the  injustice done to this community  by returning  them to their ancestral land.

Ironically,  the farmers who were once encouraged by the government to settle and farm this land, have themselves been evicted to make way for the reservation. Understandably they are protesting about the lack of consultation, disregard for land ownership certificates and unfair compensation.

These are the familiar protests of the victims of ‘land grabbing’. A term that describes the unjust and often illegal appropriation of land. Yet another name for the theft that finds it way into all areas that have a potential commercial interest, be it farming, mineral extraction or the urban development that is taking place in Rio de Janeiro.

Wherever it happens, the victims are typically, those least able to defend their rights through the over bureaucratic and often corrupt civil courts.  A good starting place might be to reform and uphold a just system for establishing and protecting the property rights of everyone?

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