Monday, October 29, 2007

India, Brazil, Lebanon: meme combat

Read the full article, well worth it

""I haven't got any rights on my land," said Prem Bai from the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. "I have got four boys and can hardly manage the family with few days' work labouring on other's fields. If we go to forests then the forest department arrests us. Our life is very difficult."

Others say their land is being grabbed by local mafias and corrupt officials. Shikari Baiga, 25, says land his family was cultivating was grabbed by local officials to grow biofuels on. Hailing from the Baiga tribe, a people with a distinctive language and culture in India's Chhattisgarh state, progress - and land rights - have eluded his community for hundreds of years. "I was put in jail for one year for demanding our land back. Fourteen families lost 75 acres [30 hectares]. But they tell us: where are your [patta]?. We can do nothing. That is why we are going to Delhi to get justice."

Land is an important and sensitive issue in most developing countries and growing numbers of poor people are demanding reform of its ownership and use after centuries of inequitable distribution.

The Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) in Brazil has an estimated 1 .5 million members who have occupied and farmed many millions of acres of unproductive land in the past 20 years.

The MST is now mirrored across Latin America with growing peasant and indigenous groups in Ecuador and Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile taking back land. They are supported by powerful international peasant groups such as Via Campesina which now works in 87 countries where land reform is recognised as a major problem.

Land reform in Africa is led by the Landless People's Movement in South Africa which argues that the official redistribution process is not fast enough for landless rural people. As in Brazil, land reform in Africa is seen as critical in redressing centuries of dispossession.

Many land reform groups are now linked and an international political movement is emerging. Almost all landless movements lobby for the right to grow food for themselves and not for export, ecological agriculture and an end to GM farming." (Thanks D.)

Many Lebanese do not have deeds to their lands. Many in my village of the south have been cultivating as share croppers for hundred years land that belongs to rich absentee landlords without any-any- rights, meaning they can be kicked out any time.

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