PBI-Honduras highlights the Nueva Esperanza farmers as they may receive land titles after four generations of working the land

Published by Brent Patterson on

In this article, PBI-Honduras notes:

“The arrayán (Southern wax myrtle or bayberry) is a medicinal shrub that has curative properties, including the ability to cleanse the lungs.

It is also the name of the village where in 1983 seventeen women created the peasant farmers’ organization Nueva Esperanza (New Hope), in the municipality of Comayagua (Department of Comayagua).

The name, chosen for its powerful symbolic meaning, referred to the healing that they intended to bring to the “forgotten and mistreated” state-owned, untitled land* where they had lived for generations.

“The land was the dumping ground for Comayagua; our children lived surrounded by flies. You could find literally anything: hospital waste, human bones, glass, syringes… I remember that the roofs of our houses were made of discarded waste, people cut their feet whenever they walked anywhere and we had almost no water,” explains Isidra García Colato, president of the Nueva Esperanza peasant farmer organization.

The female founders of the group have worked hard for change despite the local context where women were considered to be “only good for cooking and giving birth to children”.

From the very beginning they were aware that they would need to collaborate with other groups.

“First we joined the Rural Workers’ Union (UTC) and then the National Rural Workers’ Central (CNTC).”

PBI-Honduras has been accompanying CNTC since May 2018.

In the last decade, Honduras’ National Agrarian Institute (INA) granted almost 79,000 land titles nationwide, of which only 37% correspond to women, and currently only 14% of all rural women have a land title.

If land access for rural women is difficult, access to financial resources remains virtually impossible. For precisely this reason, one of the biggest demands of rural women is the urgent implementation of the Solidarity Credit for Rural Women (CREDIMUJER) – a program approved by the National Congress over 7 years ago in 2015. However, the Honduran government has still not managed to implement the program.

As they waited for the land title or a loan that would give them to apply for the titles, the women of Nueva Esperanza, backed by the CNTC, continued training, increasing their knowledge of women’s rights and breathing life into a local literacy campaign.

Several years later, the land began to yield fruit: “we managed to dig our own well and the fields began to heal. We produced all sorts, we even had mangoes and plums,” recall the founders of this rural grassroots organization.

After forty years of struggle, bureaucratic procedures and a hard work, the women were recently issued the agrarian bonds in order to pay the supposed owners.

This has given rise to another “New Hope”: that the land titles might finally be registered in the name of those who have always cared for them and their descendants, since “we are already four generations who have lived and worked this land”.

To read the full article, click on Women, a ‘New Hope’ for the rural population.

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