By Jeff Abbott
Late in the afternoon of September 4, after nearly 10 days of protests by a coalition of labor, indigenous rights groups and farmers, the indigenous peoples andcampesinos of Guatemala won a rare victory. Under the pressure of massive mobilizations, the Guatemala legislature repealed Decree 19-2014, commonly referred to as the “Monsanto Law,” which would have given the transnational chemical and seed producer a foothold into the country’s seed market.
“The law would have affected all indigenous people of Guatemala,” said Edgar René Cojtín Acetún of the indigenous municipality of the department of Sololá. “The law would have privatized the seed to benefit only the multinational corporations. If we didn’t do anything now, then our children and grandchildren would suffer the consequences.”
Originally passed on June 26, the Monsanto Law was written to protect the intellectual property rights of multinational companies in their investments within Guatemala. The law also allowed Monsanto an entrance into the Guatemalan seed market and set in place stiff penalties for any farmer who was caught selling seed to another farmer without the proper permits. The response was a massive mobilization of a coalition of labor, indigenous groups and campesinos.
For 10 days, the streets in front of the legislature of the capital Guatemala City were clogged with thousands of protesters demanding the repeal of the law. Demonstrators also gathered in the rural departments of Guatemala to protest the law and the congressmen who had voted in favor of the law.
The changes to the seed market would have heavily hit the campesinos of the department of Sololá, which is a major production area for seed corn for the rest of the country. On September 2, 25,000 to 30,000 people from around the communities of the department of Sololá shut down the Inter-American Highway in protest of the Monsanto Law. Protesters set up blockades along the highway in three places and shut down all traffic for nearly nine hours.
“The communities are organized against any law that privatizes their seed,” said Griselda Pocop of the Association of Women Moving Sololá. “They are also demanding the respect of the traditions and of their livelihoods.”
Sololá is one of the agricultural centers of Guatemala, with a majority of the population relying on the growing of maize, beans, coffee and other crops. The department also has one of the highest indigenous populations in the country, with 96 percent of the population identifying as Kaqchikel, T’zutujil, or Kiche Maya. Maize is sacred to the Maya; their cultures and societies revolve around it. According to the Kiche Maya creation story, the Popol Vuh, the gods made humans by grinding the different colors of maize.
As is written in the Popol Vuh, “There was a consensus (among the gods), and it was decided what would come of the red, yellow, black, and white maize; it is from these that they made our bones, our blood, and our flesh.”
The protection of seed is thus of the utmost importance for the indigenous peoples of Guatemala and across Mesoamerica. “We cannot live without our corn,” said Acetún of the indigenous municipality. “It makes up all of our lives. We consume it for our food, we sell it, it is us.”
Rafael, a campesino from the Kaqchikel Maya community of Pixabaj, Sololá, explained, “The people here are Maize … We are not French. We are not anything else. We are Maize; we are Maya.”
As the protests mounted, women took the lead in organizing for the defense of maize. In Sololá, women created a seed bank to archive and protect the various varieties of heirloom corn for future generations. “The women of Sololá have taken the lead in organizing to save and protect our heirloom seeds,” said Pocop. “It is our responsibility to preserve our traditional seed, and to pass along the traditional ways of doing things.”
Decree 19-2014 was written to comply with the requirements of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Like the North American Fair Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, the agreement opens up the economies of Central American countries and the Dominican Republic to cheap imports from the United States.
From the moment the trade agreement was proposed, the indigenous and farmer communities protested the law. They argued that since NAFTA had ravaged rural Mexico, CAFTA would have the same affect in the Central American countries. Despite the protests, CAFTA was ratified by Guatemala in 2006.
These trade agreements have opened up the Guatemala corn market to the importation of corn from the United States and tied the internal market to the global pricing. The results have been devastating. In the years since the agreement was signed, the price of corn has steadily increased. For years, one quetzal (roughly 12 cents) could purchase eight large tortillas. But today, for the same price, one can only purchase four smaller tortillas.
Many farmers have not been able to benefit from the increased prices of corn, because they have had to compete with cheaper imports from El Salvador, Mexico and the United States. “The trade agreement opened up Guatemala to the importation of corn and the prices went up,” said Pocop. “But the imported corn is still cheaper than that produced here.”
On the heels of this trade agreement, Decree 19-2014 would have opened up the Guatemala seed market to allow Monsanto’s modified and proprietary seeds into the country. Guatemala is not alone in the region in having to combat the privatization of seed by multinationals; campesinos in El Salvador too have had to defend their livelihoods from the privatizing effects of the trade agreement.
A rare victory
A week prior to the protest against the Monsanto law the Guatemalan Constitutional Court declared that articles 46 and 50 of the legislation, the two that most violated the rights of farmers, were unconstitutional.
Then, in a landslide vote of 117 in favor, 3 against, and 38 abstaining, the Guatemala legislature repealed Decree 19-2014. Soon after learning about the repeal, communities rejoiced. In Sololá alone, more than 5,000 people celebrated the elimination of the law.
Yet, just because the law has been repealed does not mean that the indigenous communities and campesinos of Guatemala are in the clear. According to Congressman Amlicar Pop, one of the few indigenous members of the legislature, legal loopholes exist in the bill that allow similar legislation to resurface under a different name.
“For the moment, there are legal loopholes that need to be resolved,” Pop told to the Guatemalan newspaper La Hora.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department declined to comment on any steps that might be taken to bring Guatemala in line with requirements of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
Jeff Abbott is a freelance journalist from the United States currently living and working in Central America on stories related to indigenous movements and issues of social and economic justice. This story was originally published by www.wagingnonviolence.org. We appreciate the permission from the author to reprint the story here and we encourage our readers to follow Jeff’s work at both www.wagingnonviolence.org and his own website,dispatchesfrombelow.com, as part of a healthy diet of things we all should know.
This is hands down the only travel bowl you will ever need!!! It can be used for water, obviously, but because the water just wicks right off you can also use it as a food bowl with essentially no clean up....
Though the bag is a bit smaller than I thought it would be, it is really nice. Its well made and really is perfect as a lunch bag or to hold other small items. I have always been satisfied with the quality of goods that I get from Hide & Drink and this product was no exception. The bag looks great and is also very durable. Great little lunch bag!
I got this as a gift for Mother's Day. As soon as my mom received it she immediately threw her other wallet away. She said it was not only beautiful, but it was very well made. This is a very nice wallet and you most likely will not be disappointed if you decide to get one. Everything I have purchased from Hide & Drink is always extremely nice, and well made.
I use these everyday to keep cords separate in my purse. I'm so glad I found this product. Love that it's available in so many colors!
i got these for my husband, he's a hot mess with organization and is obsessed with anything leather. he LOVES them. he keeps one on his dresser, in his car, in his work bag and in his gym bag. he uses them for charging cords, headphones, go pro stuff-anything that needs to be contained and gets tangled easily. they're super sturdy, the snaps are very secure and they smell good too. i ended up getting more for myself because i was jealous lol. this is definitely a product that every one can use and will more than likely be bought as stocking stuffers.
As other reviewers have noted- perfect case for Macbook charger. Also fits iPhone charger, headphones, etc. High quality and fast service!
How cool is this piece!? Strap it on your commuter and ride to the bottle shop to refill the fridge with some IPA's
wonderful way to keep my cords together and looking neat, very well made will outlast the cords they are protecting. Love the site
Very happy with this high quality collar.
It looks beautiful and fits great.
High quality, handmade product. I love the leather paired with the native pattern, it creates the perfect boho look. The card storage is what officially sold me though. I prefer to have my things zipped up versus in card slots on the outside a clutch (which is what you normally find everywhere now), so this was perfect for me! It's unique and convenient. If you need your card, just open it a couple inches. You need to grab your phone, open it all the way. If you purchase this wallet you will not be disappointed!
I bought the brown clutch and it arrived early! I really like this little bag when I use it. I can't sneak snacks into a theater with it- but if I'm going out it fits my phone, a small wallet, keys and lip gloss. The little clasp hasn't allowed for any escape yet. The leather is beautiful and it controls take on a charming character.
I have installed this on my beach cruzer but have yet to use it. I love the look and feel of it. I think it will work great for me.
Good quality, well made. It has worked well on my cast iron handle, fits well and has kept my hands safe and protected. I would recommend this cover to everyone with a cast iron frying pan. Great customer service in fulfilling my order. Communication was quick, clear and efficient. Thanks!
I was very unsure of these slippers seeing as they are incredibly snug....do not fret they will stretch! And fit you perfectly
Firewood is very well made. Tough as nails but also great looking. Will serve its purpose for many years to come.
Completely stoked on this pencil case AND my passport wallet. Some real quality, genuine handmade leather that will last a lifetime for sure. Keep up the good work boys!
I've been using this for a couple of weeks now, and it's great. As the weather warms up, we'll see if it really helps keep my adult beverage cooler, but in the meantime, it's terrific: nice suede, well-made (like everything else I've purchased from H&D), and happens to fit very nicely over my pints. Sales may spike, because I've taken it with me on brewpub outings...rave reviews and lots of inquiries! Thanks again, H&D!
I have to admit I was taken back by the quality of the Score Card Holder. With many so - so products out there, the Hide and Drink guys set the bar. I play competitive tournaments and get compliments on how original and nice my holder looks.
Currently I'm in Monterey playing under severe weather changes. The durable leather has been keeping my yardage book and card fully protected.
The care and attention with packaging and branding is something that Hide and Drink have brought back to a very generic ecommerce time we live in.
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I was always literally having a tangle with my earbuds when I pulled them out of my pocket to use them, yet I never thought of wrapping them around something to keep that from happening. It's so simple! This last Christmas, however, my girlfriend showed me her set of earbud wraps her mom got her. As soon as I saw them, I realized how badly I needed them, and it only got worse when my earbuds started shorting out, most likely from damage from constantly getting tangled and having to be untangled. So when I got the chance I ordered a set of wraps and bought some new earbuds. They serve their purpose amazingly. The nice colored leather was a great choice of material for them. The design is almost perfect. The only flaw is that there should be a slit for the hole so I don't have to feed my earbuds through the hole all the time but rather put them through the slit. The two pieces that make up the wrap were also not perfectly aligned when they were stitched together, so it can be a tight fit when putting the plug of my buds in the slit. Overall though, I am very happy to have these wraps and they definitely have saved me lots of time and frustration.
This suede collar is very well stitched, soft on the edges (which is why I went with the suede), has robust hardware, and is a handsome addition to my handsome young Golden pup. As well-made as it is, I believe it will be around for a long time. Bear and I spend a lot of time hiking and camping, so in a year or so I will submit an updated review to state how it has held up.
Looking forward to getting more to help organize all my little belongings. Looks stylish and appears to be a good investment in that they will last a long time!
So far so good! I love this product. It's earthy and my style! But it's functionality beats all. I bought two, one for food and one for water and I'm delighted. My dog and I go on tons of hikes and camp all the time so it's important to have reliable products. Not to mention how small it gets. Perfect for when I'm trying to pack light :)
This bag is well made and really has a lot of character. My wife loved it. It's a great bargain for the price and the craftsmanship is bar none some of the best I have received for the price paid. I would recommend this to anyone that is looking for a nice bag to put make up things in. My wife loves the size. Small, yet large enough to be useful.
This is my second product from H&D. I love the quality of the leather and the feel of it. It easily fits 4-6 cards and a decent amount of cash. Yet it's not too bulky feeling. I have looked around for a great wallet for a while, and this one really fits my needs.
Great case, nice insignia on the inside of the leather, high-quality, fits snugly around Kindle. Looks great anywhere.
I bought this and the pan handle cover for my wife, who loves using the cast iron. Turns out, we didn't own one that had a front handle. Oops. My wife, being ever so resourceful, solved the problem by simply buying a new pan. So now we have a larger pan – with a front handle – all decked out in awesome leather accessories. She let me use it this weekend (as much as one can "let her husband cook himself breakfast") and both handle covers worked great. I highly recommend buying a set of both handles, even if you don't have a pan that will fit them.
Top notch quality. The leather is full grain leather; the highest quality possible. The size is compact and ideal for a weekend trip. The bag evokes class and style comparable to high end designer bags that cost three times the price. I recommend purchasing the small H&D leather organizers or utility bags. They attached perfectly to the inside of this duffle bag. Very pleased with my purchase!
This is my second coffee sleeve (after sadly misplacing the first). The quality is fantastic, and the style is even better!
Haven't had a chance to use it yet. Appears to be well built.
I love the look and feel but was also pleasantly surprised on just how insulated it turned out to be. Perfect lunch bag but also doubles for cords and power cubes in a pinch. Very sturdy and good looking. Feels like it would stop a bullet.
I love this keychain. I feel that it is small enough to not be overbearing, but distinct enough to stand out a bit. The keychain is made well and appears to be extremely durable. I will be putting my friends on to the site.
Beautifully crafted leather tool roll, probably the best deal on the internet from what I saw. The stitching is tight, the leather is supple and thick, the tanning is flawless. It's such a good product, at a great price point, I intend to buy one more. Great for use outdoors, or for everyday carry.
Das Produkt ist super angekommen und die Gazelle ist total aufgewertet worden. Alles ist insgeamt super gelaufen!
Very nicely made pot pad, not too expensive, and looks really classy. It's great with the cast iron skillet, and I think I'll be able to keep using it for many years.
holds more than expected! seems strong.