(Lander, WY) – Lander local Taylor Pajunen recently traveled to Honduras as part of a 21-person U.S. and Canadian delegation for the Honduran Solidarity Network (HSN) and the Cross Border Network of Kansas City. She learned about the delegation while doing border aid at the U.S.-Mexico border with a group called No More Deaths.
“Right now, people from all over the world use the U.S.-Mexico border,” she explained. “The main populations of folks coming through are from Honduras and Guatemala. And I’ve known quite a bit about the history of banana republics and (the) extraction of Central American lands and people. But I saw this opportunity and was like, wow, I would really love to learn more and just get the whole picture or try to get the whole picture. So I can just connect more with the folks that are coming in and out of the borderlands.”
The delegation was structured to first learn and invest with community partners that had already been established through the HSN. Followed by a little bit of investigation into a ZEDE Próspera, an extractive U.S. company city. They then advocated by talking with the U.S. and Canadian embassies. Finally, the HSN campaign was launched.
“The campaign is to put the U.S. and Canada on trial for their crimes and for their involvement in the backing of the previous leader of the area (Juan Orlando Hernández),” Taylor shared.
Juan Orlando Hernández is a two-time President of Honduras, according to a Washington Post article. He led the country starting in 2014 and was a close ally to the U.S. during both the Obama and Trump administrations.
Xiomara Castro won the presidency of Honduras and has been in power since Jan. 2022. Shortly after Castro took power, Hernández was extradited to the U.S.
“The indictment charged that from at least in or about 2004, up to and including in or about 2022, Hernández, the former two-term President of Honduras, participated in a corrupt and violent drug-trafficking conspiracy to facilitate the importation of hundreds of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Hernández allegedly received millions of dollars to use his public office, law enforcement, and the military to support drug-trafficking organizations in Honduras, Mexico, and elsewhere.”
The HSN campaign will take place before, during, and after Hernández’s trial in New York City starting on Feb. 5, 2024, according to a press release, and demands five things, which can be read in the above linked press release.
Taylor has taken what she experienced in the delegation and brought that back to the U.S. The delegation was an “extremely impactful experience” and “deeply informed” her local organizing strategies, she shared.
“I definitely recognize that in organizing, it can be overwhelming when we start hearing about global issues and how everything is so deeply intertwined. And I think in my efforts to kind of know my own capacities, know my strengths and weaknesses. And just know my location. I think my advocacy is more in local organizing and supporting land back initiatives. And I think that means critically thinking about what my role is as a settler in supporting land back work, and certainly not wanting to co-opt it or make my own meaning of it, and just kind of extract. But to really just try to uplift and support the efforts that are already being done here in Wyoming and press towards land back, and there are various ways land back is happening, whether it’s land buyback programs or just land title transfers.”
Taylor shared her biggest takeaway from the delegation:
“So, my biggest takeaway was actually one of the members of the delegation. It was right at the beginning after we met with some Campesino farmers who were engaged in deep land back efforts and land reclamation efforts. And he asked me, ‘When you travel, do you just feel like the world is so big and overwhelming?’ I was, like, ‘Certainly overwhelming, but I feel like the more that I travel, the more that I see. The world’s actually quite small, at least in, like, this colonial world we live in. Because of colonial and imperial powers, the U.S. has touched everywhere and impacted everywhere negatively. And so it’s just kind of seeing that the same struggle is existing. Whether it’s in Central America or right here in Wyoming. The exploitation of land for profit and the removal and murder of indigenous land caretakers who have deep ancestral ties to the land. So I think that was like the biggest theme but also the resistance there in Honduras and here in Wyoming that I don’t want to talk about fully the ills of U.S. colonialism and capitalism without talking about the deep, deep resistance efforts. And that was really, really cool. And just amazing to see how united and how strong the various communities were throughout Honduras, to fight for their lands.”