We spent the night at EcoSol – the beautiful training and hospitality center for a Solidarity Economy, a center of Red COMAL, the Network of Community Marketing Alternatives. Red COMAL provides training for worker-owned agricultural, women-run and other small business enterprises of agricultural and artisan products to create an economy so young people and women will be able to get their products to market, make a living and stay in the country. There we learned about their incredible trade organization which promotes food sovereignty, solidarity, marketing of products, and improvement in the quality of life of families and a more just Honduras. We got to try some of the products: coffee, fruit wine, natural soap, shampoo, honey.
After the beautiful presentation about their work, we asked our presenter what obstacles farmers face. 350,000 Hondurans are landless. Farmers in many areas face danger in marketing their products. For example, if they have a beautiful piece of land, they may be relentlessly pursued and threatened by gangs to give it up. Or robbers watch them as they prepare their crops for market and follow them in order to rob them when they have money from their sales. We asked if Red COMAL works in the Aguan Valley. He responded that they are unable to work there because of the terrible security situation there. It would be too dangerous, both for the Red COMAL organizers and the people of that region for them to carry out their alternative marketing and other organizational activities.
They shared with us the concept of a solidarity economy, which is an economy based on values and principles and the concept that the development of humans is more valuable than profit.
They also made a distinction between Food Sovereignty vs Food Security. Food sovereignty means that farmers can decide what to plant and what to consume. It means not needing to buy seeds. It creates both belonging and autonomy.
Each day of our journey we have been accompanied by the staff of Radio Progreso who have helped to interpret the reality of Honduras. Thank you to Jose Mario, Mercy, Osman and Marguerita who have been such wonderful guides to us. Several of us were treated with the recounting of an amazing life of activism and repression experience by Marguerita, who provides training for women’s empowerment through the social programs of ERIC. Marguerita has been in the struggle for human rights in Honduras since the repressive military regime sponsored by the US Government in the ’80s when she was kidnapped.
We will end with a quote from Dionisio from Red COMAL who thanked us for being here and providing hope. “Only if we are organized, will we move forward.”
– by Diana and Phyllis