Adolfo Castañeda, May 2012.
I have an unforgettable moment of Adolfo Castañeda, an amazing campesino leader from the Bajo Aguan region of Honduras that died recently of natural causes (based on what is reported at the moment). Adolfo was a founding leader of the campesino movement in the 70s, a major opponent of the illegal land transfers under the Modernization Law in the 1990s, and lost his son who was murdered in Colon in 2014. He was a founding member of the United Campesino Movement of the Aguan (MUCA).
One day, I took a group to talk to him roughly an hour before dusk in northern Honduras. He stood under the African palm trees in La Aurora finca that he and the United Campesino Movement of Aguan (MUCA) were farming, occupying, and recuperating from large land owners in the Aguan Valley. He spoke with passion about his years of being part of a campesino movement fighting for land rights and a better life for his children, something that he insisted, he would never stop doing until the day he died.
Adolfo told us the way in which the US continued to support the Honduran government and military. He described all the repression he had faced over the years as a campesino leader fighting for land in Honduras including how he learned how to stand against the trunks of the African palm trees and slowly circulating under them to avoid the bright light that helicopters would shine into the fincas in search of campesinos occupying the land.
He told us that he wasn't angry at us (American and Canadian citizens) for what our governments do on their imperialist missions to promote their economic interests but insisted that we go home and tell everyone what was happening in Honduras and how land was being stolen from poor campesinos for agrobusiness. He was so articulate and so proud to share his analysis - understanding what was happening inside his finca against his compañer@s and land while connecting it with US foreign policy in Honduras.
After hearing such powerful words, myself and other members of the group, got back into the car. It was almost dark but we could still make out the African palm trees inside the finca. As we started the vehicle and drove away, Adolfo walked back into the palm trees. He didn't look back at us, just simply walked into the haunting shadows of the large trees planted on the land that he had spent his life fighting for and defending.
RIP Adolfo Castañeda. Memories of you will live on in the struggles of the campesinos in the Aguan Valley.