Associativism as path for peace in societies in conflict

Associativism as path for peace in societies in conflict

René Mendoza Vidaurre[1]

Behind every adversity is an opportunity. Popular proverb. 

“There is not a path to peace, peace is the path”. M. Gandhi.

Naruto, Japanese manga

Nagato: “War causes pain and wounds on both sides. The death of a loved one is difficult to accept, we convince ourselves that there is no way that they are dead. It cannot be helped in our generation…You can try to seek a meaning in death, but there is only pain, unparalled hate…And it is pain that does not heal. That is war”.

Naruto: “So I am going to break this curse. If there is such a thing as peace, I will find it! I will not give up!… I cannot write novels like my master … The consequence will have to be on life that is lived. It does not matter how great the pain that is faced.”

In the Japanese manga Naruto two adversaries dialogue and in the end come around, are freed from the hate and pain that led the communities to confront one another in fratricidal wars for centuries. This series illustrates how, even in the midst of confrontation, there are profound dialogues that make the power within emerge, recognizing their own words in the words of the other: “…I am going to break that curse”, “If there is such a thing as peace, I will find it!”. Words woven by their masters and ancestors. This story helps us to re-read Central America, a region that since its independence tends to be built on force and not on law, and that makes heroes of those who use violence, but at the same time is sustained by families that are organized and could be, like Naruto and Nagato, breaking this curse of violence. How can these societies in conflict be accompanied?[2]


Societies are called “post conflict” when a country signs peace agreements to end wars; really they are societies of “post peace accords”. Because the conflicts are multidimensional (social, political, economic, religious and emotional) and express a diversity of paths (of life) of groups and human coalitions that are in conflict with one another, and persist with or without peace. These conflicts intensify when in the post-peace-accords-phase the economic, social and political equity which caused the war does not improve, and its effects among the most impoverished population are greater when the words – as in the Japanese manga – did not reach the heart.

Central America is home to societies in conflict that live amidst the longing for “agreements” and “post-agreements”. Some recent violent confrontations have happened more in urban populations, in periods of economic growth, with abundant use of social networks and political demonstrations. This is the case of Honduras around the coup in 2009, and the tension over the electoral results of 2017; the social and international pressure that made president Otto Pérez in Guatemala resign, and that continues questioning President Morales; the political tensions in Nicaragua after April 18, 2018; and the decades long confrontation with organized crime in El Salvador.

These “waves” of confrontations, nevertheless, prevent us from seeing the forces and processes that underly them[3]. The massive mobilizations tend to be trapped by the rivalry between the traditional economic elite and the emerging elite – both involved in glocal coalitions – seeking to control the State as a mechanism for accumulation through dispossession. This engine of conflict is expressed in “waves” of confrontations, democracy/dictatorship and human rights/repression, and drag along a good part of the population, including international opinion, who join one or another side. They are “waves” that also prevent us from seeing the interruption of long processes of improvement on the part of actors and their institutions that precisely tend to reveal a third path, that of  peace with more equity.

How can these actors who contribute to peace be accompanied? We respond to this question after our experience being out with rural groups of the region, deeply rooted cooperatives and associations as the organized expression where “peace is the path.” Here we describe what these groups are experiencing, oversizing the tragic side of the conflicts, their awakening in the face of opportunities, the importance of weaving networks to detect these opportunities, and accompaniment in this process of those who Gramsci would call “organic intellectuals for the construction of peace”, people from different organizations and institutions who dare to accompany them “in the good times and the bad times.”

1.     Rural societies beneath “waves” of confrontation

In contrast to the decades prior to 1990, where the violence germinated in the rural areas, in the current millennium the provincial capitals tend to be the scenarios for confrontational demonstrations, while in the rural areas the silence is loud, expressed in fear, concern, and violence that – like the vine that wraps itself around trees – chokes off the roads, and expressed in that sense of solitude that inundates the homes.

Fear travels down the roads and gets into people. In the day there is little traffic on the highways and the buses are half empty. Fear makes some people go into a state of shock, even more if their loved ones are in the cities, or are delayed in returning from doing some errand. Hearing shots and waking up to dogs barking at night increases the fear. Rumors loaded with sadness infiltrates homes. Some grab their clothes and migrate outside the country. This fear begins to rule: not leaving their homes, returning early from work, praying more, looking for trees where there is shade.

Concern begins with food scarcities, and when prices undergo big variations. “For a three day period salt rose to 10 times its normal price, the price then went down when the truck passed through the roadblocks; the same thing happened with sugar and rice…” “Bus fares went up and you had to take several buses.” Storefronts, hospitals, sales of new corn tortillas and pensions…declined. The chickens and pigs also got nervous, because they understood intuitively that they were plan B for their owners and thieves who lost their jobs. Concern increased when they turned to their farms, because as the cooperative member V. Adams would say, “the politics of peasants is work”.

If the “waves” of confrontation drag out, and happen in periods after the coffee harvest, the payments for coffee will be delayed, because exports are delayed when not transported normally to the ports of embarkation. Cattle are not flowing to the slaughterhouses. Milk is not being collected. Payments are delayed. Loans on the part of the cooperatives are postponed[4], from the banks, micro-finance institutions and providers. They stop giving loans out of fear of the instability of the country. One would suppose that when the formal institutions do not provide credit, usury and commercial mediation that buys future produce is going to gain ground and impose themselves with even more draconian rules, but even these structures are put “on hold.” What happens if there is no credit? The month of May tends to be for planting basic grains, between April and September they are fertilized and insecticides are applied on the different crops. On not addressing the crops and the farms, they begin to suffer, their production drops a bit, they are more susceptible to diseases. The risk in this is that the productive structure is affected in the following years, and the social cohesion of communities is affected.

The lack of liquidity has made many producers stop the work on their farms. Those who have more than 5 mzs of coffee and hire labor to weed, fertilize, spray leaves…make decisions that could affect their farms in the medium term: see the attached box, common conversations that are happening. Those who have less than 5 mzs tend to intensify their family labor for some tasks. All, except those in organic agriculture, suffer from not having access to chemical inputs (fertilizers and insecticides). The producers walk through their farms looking at their plants, ·the harvest could decline, and afterwards how am I going to recover?” The question echoes in the mind, because permanent crops take years to recover.

Added to the fear and and concern is a dosis of violence that like pests invades the countryside. In the morning the farms have less plantains and cassava, they were stolen. On the roads there are assaults, theft and crimes. In homes the violence gets worse, fed by the “waves”, tacitly touting that violence is a “matter of men.” Between homes, farms and conversations among neighbors, they begin to ripen a hard conclusion that gives them grey hair and wrinkles, “Those who are confronting one another and feeding the violence in the cities are going to reach an agreement, and the violence is going to be left with us, that is how it always is.”

The past comes alive in homes and villages. Some talk about the 1970s, 1980s and others of the 1990s. “When we get rid of the government we will burn your community”, “those who participated in the war on “x” side, we are going to make you pay.” People over 50 years of age begin to speak more openly of their trials, they do it to forestall and warn of the danger that is coming, they recall their wounds and from that memory read the current situation. Doña Julia, “in the war a group from the army came up and camped here, I gave them beans; another day another group arrived from the other side, they camped here also and I gave them beans, now 2 or 3 show up at night breaking windows.” In this environment the bark or howling of dogs at night chases sleep away and revives ghosts; morning finds them with a knife in one hand, a rosary in the other, and their eyes swollen.

This is when families begin to feel alone. Abandoned? “No, alone”- they murmur. Credit promoters, technicians, facilitators, priests, aid workers no longer show up in the communities. It is surprising that institutions, organizations, NGOs that used to work with rural women and men stay in their cities, offices, chapels and homes. It is like the “shepherd” has shut himself in his home and left “the sheep” in the field. “Alone, because even the church took a side”…some complain; “it was time the church opposed this”, others are happy[5]. The confrontation also gets the gods in trouble, who one and the other side invoke in their favor; while the religious institutions (Catholic and Evangelical) do not set forth the path for peace and are light years away from taking on their mission of changing minds on both sides.

On the other hand, the intellectuals who tend to work with rural populations are not accompanying rural families. Nor are they doing it from their “barracks” with reflection articles and/or proposals. They do not set forth rural perspectives, they do not believe that they should be part of the negotiations. It would seem that we forget that in the past the peasant cooperative model was ignored in the name of “national unity”, that gender equity and the autonomy of indigenous territories were left aside in order to not affect “national unity”, that years later that was recognized as a mistake. In these times of the search for peace agreements, we are precisely going back to trip over the same “stone.” The word “democratization” is reduced to the political sphere and of that, only the electoral part, to walk the rails of “get rid of you to put in me”, changing everything so that nothing changes; we forget that neither democracy nor authoritarianism has solved poverty and inequality, that democracy with social justice has been our biggest challenge. We forget that our local organizations, NGOs and religious and academic institutions also lack democracy, that we have board members and managers who will only be separated from their posts by death; but of course it is more pleasurable to target the State or the empire.

The conversation in the attached box shows that most of the organizations and institutions have not been loyal to the peasantry. Their real love is the source of their resources. They have looked on the peasantry as their “lover”, as long as the economic or research project lasts. That is what the cooperatives were for some governments and organizations in the history of the region. That concept of the peasantry was used to rationalize the emergence of some financial institutions. Is this how it will be? Part of the peasantry is also beginning to recall the words of these institutions: “They used to tell us that they were our allies…And now? They ran away at the first sign of danger.”

Is it out of fear? Is it that neoliberalism has nested in our minds, depoliticizing politics and economics? Is it being a prisoner of the dark forces that instill terror because they want the peasantry to be isolated, go into crisis and sell their lands for cheap, or that the indigenous peoples might lose the little they have left of their territories? Is it the spirit of G. Sharp or the “likes” that drive us (as Cambridge Analytica did in the USA in 2016)?

2.     Adversities, opportunities and possibilities

The biggest risk during times of violent confrontations is seeing the crises as reduced to just these confrontations. So analyses proliferate of the denouncements of injustices that the side they are against are committing, or they seek explanations in political accords that they have made in the past. Trapped in this perspective, the situation is seen as crisis, tragedy and problems: fear, instability, violence, drop in production, price speculation…We humans tend to see only the problem/tragedy side of situations.

Seeing beyond the problem/tragedy is crucial for families and the peace that they are building. Let us work on the proverb behind every adversity there is an opportunity. The population and people from different organizations and institutions repeat this proverb, but they read it with a mixture of resignation and an illusion about exogenous forces: “Yes, the opportunities will come”, “God has a plan, this will end and he will bring us blessings.” In other words, with our minds guided by a mental map that only sees tragedies, this proverb does not generate any change for us. A. Einstein already said it, “no problem can be resolved on the same level of awareness on which it was created”; in other words, to get out of a problem, we need to confront our own attitude and generate new thinking.

Let´s study this proverb so that it might serve as a guide for us[6]. See figure 1. 1) To see problems as adversities, real threats that block or put your path at risk now and in the future. 2) To recognize adversities means removing them as if they were “stones”, which is a deliberative action of explaining the mental models that we convey; without explaining them, we are going to continue believing that the problems are generalized and that they are not adversities that directly affect our future. 3) To remove the “stones” (adversities) we have to direct our focus on identifying the market, resource, knowledge and alliance opportunities in the state, aid organizations, businesses and communities; these opportunities are hidden behind the adversities. 4) In light of these opportunities, we have to redirect our focus on our own strengths, on what possibilities we have, or could have, to take advantage of these opportunities. 5) So new mental frameworks emerge that make us reconceptualize our own realities, which is how we rediscover ourselves in light of the future, while we free ourselves from those old mental models.


Table 1 shows some elements along these lines.


Table 1. Examples of the cognitive process of crises or conflicts

Adversities Opportunities[7] Possibilities
That the violence embedded in hierarchical institutions and the law of the jungle takes over our societies The idea that the unexpected (a calm country suddenly is in flames) awakens awareness of change. Communities with strong grassroots organizations reduce violence and reassess their rules.
That the 2nd tier cooperatives are used as the means of control over families, and drain grassroots organizations. Resources in state institutions and organizations that prefer other more democratic and inclusive paths; restructuring of debts and legal arrangements… Grassroots organizations reassess their practices and rules about their organs functioning, and their members rotating in different positions.
A neglected farm could drop its productivity in the short and medium term, drop its value, be susceptible to theft and erode local social cohesion. There is labor available that with honorable agreements might be invested in farms and social cohesion of the community (e.g reduce theft). Diversified farms are revalued as food and as income: plantains, cacao, fruit, citrus and honey. Communities seek arrangements, not just money.

All the elements included in the table are for now and the future. Reading the table requires explaining the mental frameworks that we bear. Let us illustrate with two of the examples mentioned in Table 1. The first adversity assumes having the mentality of the “law of the jungle”, that the law of the strongest governs societies, which is why problems are resolved on the basis of force; with this mentality the opportunities in times of confrontation will only be for thieves, drug traffickers and those who infringe on the rights of others. Seen from the possibilities side, in light of the opportunities, endogenous laws appear of communities and their grassroots organizations, which based on rights, reduce violence and allow them to reassess old institutions (e.g. mutual aid in communities, children helping on the farm since they do not have classes).

Let us look at another case. The third adversity in Table 1 assumes a mental framework that “nothing can be done without money”, which is why if a farmer of 100 or 200 mzs of land lacks credit, he decides to lay off his workers and keep just the caretakers. It is a mentality of only seeing the coffee on his farm and seeing only salaries in his workers. Meanwhile on the possibilities side, in light of the opportunities, the mental framework is that “social relations are worth more than money” (“a friend is worth more than 100 pesos”). From that perspective, that farmer, changing his mental framework, could take the workers at their word in Table 1, reflect on the effects of his previous decision where he will stop receiving some of his earnings, and the worker families will stop eating some of their usual diet; some of those workers then will seek to compensate in any way they can, making an arrangement and honoring the agreements that they agree on could mean that the farm is not neglected, the workers have their food and the community cohesion is strengthened.

Observing ourselves in the previous process, we realized that on starting the conversations with the families that were organized, the sadness and problems quickly overwhelmed us, but when we included the deliberate action of reflecting on the adversities, removing them, looking at the opportunities and rediscovering our capacities, the conversation turned into a cascade of hope. We realized that we humans tend to oversize the problems without expanding on the issues involved (the adversities), and that working on the opportunities is like group therapy to create future scenarios[8]. We also noticed that our energies naturally sought to mushroom against the State and the elites who manipulate the State, and that dangerously we tended to confront them on their “terrain”, forgetting about our “terrain” and our forces. In that context a question that “raises the roof” or “dumps the table over” was urgent: What is it that most hurts the elite? The fact that we take to the streets and highways to protest with stones and mortars, and return with our wounded and dead, does that affect them more or us? The fact that we consolidate our cooperative, produce organic fertilizer and quit depending on chemical inputs, does that benefit them more or us? Or let us direct questions to our side: what was the dream of our parents and grandparents when they left us our land? What have been our millennial aspirations? Having diversified farms, leaving land to our sons and daughters without dividing it up, creating autonomous communities…Are not these the fundamental elements that in addition contribute to humanity and our “portable throne” which is the earth?

This energy from questions allowed us to draw out the route expressed in Figure 1. “To keep the tortilla from burning, you have to turn it over.” The crisis or violent confrontations that our societies experience are “waves” that have two sides, as the proverb quoted indicates. We take advantage of them to connect associative forms and social mobilization, not in the sense that the protest actions and associative organizations “might coordinate their actions”, no, but in allowing the “unexpected” element of the events to question our providentialist mentality that solutions “fall from the sky” and shake up our thoughts of continuity. Another way than violence is possible. In this way we realize that the only thing certain is uncertainty and death, that our challenge is to prepare ourselves for the unexpected, and that understanding the signs of the times involve reading the “small print” of the confrontations, that when they are fighting above it is time to advance from below. Here is the biggest opportunity to make history that we have available to us.

3.     Network to capture opportunities, share them and re-conceptualize our attitudes

Discovering opportunities and our own strengths is a great step of peace, due to its element of reconceptualizing our realities to the extent that we explain our mental frameworks. How can we identify more opportunities and reflect on on them, while at the same time share them with more families that are organized? First we need to build this network among grassroots organization as a means for peace in the region[9] based on a little more than 2,000 agricultural cooperatives out of the 9,000 cooperatives in Central America. If we add to that number the peasant stores, associations, rural banks and associative enterprises, the number of rural organizations is considerable. If these organizations open their doors to youth, their own sons and daughters, who have done university studies, we would have a good basis of rural intellectuals to re-conceptualize their realities.

Second, sharing guides about how to work on figure 1 and illustrate it with real cases like those model cooperatives (or peasant stores) that we could characterize in the following way: they are rooted (geographically concentrated), they make their associative side and their business side function, they have contributions from their members as the basis for their financing, and they redistribute earnings with their members on the basis of transparent information and management guided by their rules[10]. These types of organizations and communities where they are settled, in the face of a scenario of prolonged violence, where the rural areas tend to be prey to violence and drug trafficking, stem the violence and establish themselves as spaces of peace. So it is a matter of preparing guides and systematizing model organizations/communities to share them with the network of rural intellectuals by email, sending printed texts to those who still do not use internet, and disseminating materials on the webpage for those organizations and funders in the world who make use of internet.

Third, these networks of organizations and funders can support the political, economic and social democratization of rural communities promoting national and international commercialization of “peace” products: “peace coffee”, “peace cacao” or “peace plantains”. Behind these products would be territorialized associative organizations, behind those organizations would be inclusive and democratic social rules, and behind those rules would be living communities.

4.     Needed accompaniment

There are several studies that give an account of the role of intellectuals in the civil wars of each country of Central America. One of the most recent on El Salvador, Chávez (2017)[11], describes intellectuals like R. Dalton who joined the guerrillas in the 1960s and 1970s, and peasant religious and intellectuals who were formed using popular pedagogy, rural cooperative training, literacy programs and workshops on Catholic social doctrine, contributions that explain the origins of the civil war in El Salvador. Nevertheless, intellectuals allied with the peasantry in the post-peace accord or peace building periods seem to have withdrawn[12]; what we have between 1990 and 2010 are reconditioned consultants who carry out international aid projects, write reports that remain hidden, and take ink from their pens that could be better used for critical and constructive thinking.

It is important that funders, organizations and institutions that work with the peasantry redouble their efforts and their presence with peasant families. In times of larger conflicts, that expression that “a visit is a blessing” is even more true. Let us not stay in our homes, chapels and offices. If the financial institutions, social banks, and the microfinance institutions are restricting credit, if businesses restrict credit and their buying or selling, those of us who work with the peasantry should redouble our presence in the countryside, doing it in a very well thought out way and creating bridges between different spaces.

If the social banks reconsider their role, and instead of restricting, redouble their credit services with associative organizations, it would make a real difference. To do so it can be more selective with the organizations, and reach agreements that would include their democratic functioning; this would imply questioning their mental framework that “the large individual producer is profitable” and that “mono-cropping gets financing”. International buyers can buy “peace coffee” from model cooperatives with the attributes already mentioned. Credit should not be given, nor products bought, from despotic organizations governed by elites who use the member families to obtain external resources without being accountable to their members. If grassroots organizations can reinvent themselves, the social banks, buyers and fair trade organizations can also rethink their role in light of their original mission and vision, which did not revolve around money.

“And what ensures that what is agreed upon gets implemented when `you will make me sign [an agreement], but never comply´ is an institution at all levels?”, replied a board member of a financial organization in response to these ideas. The agreements that are reached could be accompanied from inside and from outside. From inside, each cooperative could name a young person who would accompany the functioning of each organ of the organization (in the case of a cooperative, their organs are Administrative Council, Oversight Board, Credit Committee, General Assembly, Education Committee), who would ensure the flow of information between the business side and the associative side of the organizations, and would help them to analyze that information and the facts that are presented to them. From outside, a team of intellectuals committed to rural families would train the youth to do their work, and would accompany the organizations, while maintaining communication with aid agencies and commercial and financial institutions that work with the rural organizations.

These processes would happen in the framework of a network of organizations: See Figure 2. The aid agencies would promote the “peace products”, connecting them with international buyers and student organizations in Universities in the north. Also types of diversification would be worked on: crops for feeding families; export crops like coffee, cacao, taro and plantains; crops with value added in micro-territories, e.g. a roaster or a store in a community which would re-energize the local economy and social cohesion.

This work requires that the intellectuals committed to the peasantry carry out the following tasks. First, studies that would identify models of organizations and list opportunities that are seen, while discerning concrete contexts. Second, preparation of a guide so that the peasant families who organize might capture opportunities and possibilities, and that they might re-read their mental frameworks to re-conceptualize their realities. Third, accompaniment of the organizations and the youth with certificate programs and workshops that in addition help them to “get out” and overcome the fear implanted by the dark forces in each country; that the board members “get out” of their houses and “re-encounter” other organizations in the municipality – “getting out” has also been an institution of change for women in despotic families. Fourth, visits to academic institutions and NGOs to reflect on their work with the peasant families who are organizing, for example, that the universities of Central America might understand that the majors that they teach also should express the practices and rationalities of more than 70% of the businesses and farms which are small, that the peasant vision is not the vision of the mono-croppers of maximizing their earnings at any cost, that the vision of the indigenous peoples is not that of the extractavists who see the land as something without life.

By way of conclusion

In 1984 in San José, I heard a dialogue between Pablo Pecho, ex president of a evangelical church from Peru, and a German theologian. During his presidency his church had opted to follow liberation theology, but in his absence the national assembly of his church voted to abandon that position. Read the attached box where an unforgettable dialogue took place. That day I awoke to the role of intellectuals: they had to be with peasant families, no matter what their political party sympathies may be, no matter what circumstances they are in, and as J. Koldegaard, a friend of the peasantry, used to say, “you have to walk from where the peasants are, not from where the aid agencies are”. Including hundreds of leaders of grassroots organizations, including the youth, as well as we academics who work with peasant families, we could form a network of organic intellectuals for the construction of peace that would move to the rhythm of the communities and not in front of them[13]. Is it not time for us intellectuals to turn our gaze toward the peasantry and indigenous peoples?

As V. Adams said, “the politics of peasants is work” – on the farm, in the kitchen, in the community, in the river, in the mill, in the organization or in the markets. Peasant families who are organizing can be despotic and atomized, yes, but they are also the best expression that “peace is the way”. Working with them is not an altruistic option of choosing between taking a guitar course or spending a year accompanying a farming cooperative. No. The members grow as leaders and can make a difference in social equity, environmental sustainability and the democratization of the economy; there is no other option, other than mono-cropping, authoritarianism, and violence. We intellectuals also should not have another option. Together, as Naruto and Nágato, we can break the curse of war fed by the accumulated pain and hate of centuries. Together we can find “such a thing as peace.”

[1] The author has a PhD in development studies, is an associate researcher for IOB-University of Antwerp (Belgium), a collaborator of the Winds of Peace Foundation ( and a member of the Coserpross cooperative, RL (

[2] In moments in which the confrontations have happened the author has spent weeks with rural populations. This text describes it from the perspective of this immersion and accompaniment.

[3] Here we are skipping over factors like the role of the United States in pushing toward one or another solution in accord with their interests in “their backyard”. We are not discussing whether Gene Sharp with his theory of the “soft coup” (2011, From Dictatorship to Democracy) “throws wood on the fire” or “blows on the match”. We are not analyzing the origins of the tensions in the international crisis of 2008. We are not auscultating, following J. Mahoney (2001, The legacies of liberalism, Path dependence and political regimes in Central America), the critical juncture in the liberal policies of the XIX Century, and later junctures. Nor are we speculating about the duality of old post-colonial-violent-culture / new-political-culture of dialogue and peace. All that would be important. For now, we are looking at the tensions from parts of the rural world, and are seeking paths for peace.

[4] In grassroots cooperatives whose coffee, for example, are exported by second tier cooperatives, it is rumored that maybe they will not get their fair trade premium (US$20/qq), maybe they are not going to receive the organic premium ($30/qq) in the case of producers of organic coffee. Why? The rumor continues: if the 2nd tier cooperative borrowed money from the bank to buy coffee from traders, their costs went up because of the delay in exporting, which is why they would seek to compensate themselves from somewhere. Rumors are like water that evaporates, goes into the clouds, and is released.

[5] On the role of mediation, it seems very inspiring what Tony Blair (2011, a Journey: My political life) tells about this experience as a mediator in Ireland, where they achieved the “Holy Friday Agreement in 1998”: Peace in Northern Ireland.

[6] This proverb, in the way in which we are going to work on it, is coherent with the meaning of crisis in Asian culture. The word for crisis in Chinese is: 危机 (Wei Ji). It is composed of two characters, Wei means danger and Ji is opportunity.

[7] There are many opportunities that families are seeing. Let us cite some of them. V. Pérez Dávila: “If the crisis continues, in two months beans will be scarce and their price will go up; so right now I am going to plant beans.

  1. Adams: “you have to buy land and make investments with the earnings that we produce; that is what all of us members should do to face these difficult times”. M. Rivera: “since there are no classes, I called my kids and we are working the farm together”. C. Herrera: “Now people will want to plant plantains in their coffee fields and in their yards, I have plantain plants and I sell them for C$5 a sprout, with the rains people will want to plant raizudo plantains, my sprouts are those plantains”. C. Hernandez: “urea is going to rise in price, if it is not applied because of lack of money, the crops are going to decline, it is time to see that organic agriculture is an opportunity, it is in our hands”.

[8] The neurobiologist, D.H. Ingvar (2005, “Memory of the future”: an essay on the temporal organization of conscious awareness”, in Human Neurobiology 4:3) finds that the human brain constantly seeks to make sense and order the future. He presents evidence that the frontal/prefrontal part of the cortex manages the temporal organization of behavior and cognition, and that that same structure holds the plans for the future of behavior and cognition. Since these plans or programs tend to be retained, he calls them “memories of the future”. That would be the basis for anticipating and expecting future scenarios using data and observations that our minds retain. If our memory of the future is clearer, developing scenarios about “what happens if” are important, it is like saying, “if later on their are traffic problems, I will take another route to arrive at my destination”.

[9] We are skipping over the 2nd tier organizations, because most have concentrated physical investments and centralized decisions, expressing hierarchical relations that instead provide fertile soil for violence in the region. If this type of organization would again enjoy economic injections, they could intensify their pursuit of hollowing out grassroots organizations that seek to consolidate their autonomy. We also recognize that there are some 2nd tier organizations that are exceptions to what is expressed here, or that are changing in this direction.

[10] Not all territorialized cooperatives are models, but this initial step is an attribute that gives them a good starting point. It will be important to list and study these model organizations/communities.

[11] Chávez, J.M., 2017, Poets & Prophets of the Resistance: Intellectuals & the Origins of El Salvador’s Civil War.

[12] In the current millennium it is difficult to find intellectual scholars of rural realities, much less scholars of rural organizations in Central America. What is the reason for this intellectual drought?

[13] I am grateful to Paulo Barrera, university professor in Brazil, who reading a previous draft, took the phrase “organic intellectuals for the construction of peace” and added “that move to the rhythm of the communities and not in front of them”, a phrase which I include here.

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