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El Salvador Puts People and Environment First, Challenging Trade Rules

The citizens and government of El Salvador have inspired many by demonstrating the possibility of resistance against large corporations and the unfavorable trade regulations they have created by protecting the interests of the country’s own farmers, food, and environment.

Last summer news broke that the US was threatening to pull aid from El Salvador if the Central American country would not accept stipulations that would have required them to buy GMO seeds from companies such as Monsanto.

This spring, the Ministry of Agriculture released a new round of contracts to supply seeds to farmers through its Family Agriculture Program. This year almost half of all seeds will be produced by cooperatives within the country. This, despite protests in recent years by the US Trade Representative and large multinational seed companies that claim El Salvador is violating CAFTA—the Central American Free Trade Agreement—by favoring local farmers and denying business opportunities to large corporations.

Now El Salvador is under threat again. This time the country is being sued for $301 million by an Australian mining company that was denied a permit to mine gold in the country. The case has been brought to the International Center for Investment Disputes where the mining company is claiming that its right to mine gold has been violated. El Salvador denied the permit in an attempt to protect the surrounding environment and in particular safeguard the country’s limited sources of safe water.

So far El Salvador has been successful in protecting its local seed economy and farmers. No decision has yet been made in the mining case.

photo credit Luis Parada

Posted on April 20th 2015

Remembering Rana Plaza With a Fashion Revolution

April 24th is the two year anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh in which over 1,000 people were killed in the collapse of a garment factory.

Victims of the disaster and their families still have not been fully compensated and, despite public outrage, the industry is still in need of transformation.

Some of the first steps in this transformation are accountability and transparency. As a coalition that calls itself the Fashion Revolution explains, “By asking consumers, designers, brands, and all those who care to ask a simple question, ‘Who made my clothes?’ we envisage a change in perspective that will lead to a deeper understanding.”

This year on April 24th join the Global Day of Action and call for a fashion revolution. Here are some ways you can get involved:

 

Together we can create an economy in which fashion does not mean exploitation!

Posted on April 20th 2015

Fight for $15 Gains Momentum

The fight to raising the minimum wage has been gaining momentum over the last few months and got another bump on April 15th with demonstrations throughout the country.

strike 2 Thousands of people in hundreds of events took to the streets, walking off in low wage jobs and holding signs in solidarity with low-wage workers. Fast food workers and low-wage tipped workers were the focal point of many demonstrations.

In Washington DC, Food Chain Workers Alliance along with their member organizations, including Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC), joined the demonstrations and spoke out against the National Restaurant Association, the lobbying group that has kept tipped wages at $2.13 for decades. Saru Jayaraman of ROC explained to the crowd that it was not just a fight against a lobbying group, but that given the history of tipped wages in the US, “we are trying to overcome the legacy of slavery in this country.”

Meanwhile fair brand Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap is leading the charge in DC for a local ballot initiative to raise the wage there.

strike 1