No Justice when Catastrophes Collide?

Remembering Roberto Nolasco, Kenia Marquez and Jose Argueta !PRESENTE!

In the wake of this tragic news out of Honduras, how do we begin to describe the deep sense of loss, pain and grief that we share with our partners and friends in COMSA? How can we imagine the impact this senseless loss of life is having on the immediate families and on the wider community of Marcala and beyond? And what can we actually do to be constructive and helpful to support their strength and resiliency in these difficult times?

Many of us knew Roberto Nolasco as the COMSA agronomist and organic promoter. He participated together with roasters and producers during our 2015 Guatemala Regional Exchange, during the 2017 Nicaragua Reforestation learning event, and during many of our visits and events in Marcala, such as the 2014 Regional Exchange and the Diplomado Organico at COMSA’s innovation and learning site, La Finca Fortaleza.

For anyone who knew Roberto personally, I’m sure the first thing you’ll remember is his radiant smile. Roberto was someone who cared deeply about his work at COMSA, and their fundamental focus of healing the land and nurturing the development of people and community.

So it is with an EXTREMELY heavy heart that we bring you this very, VERY sad news of his tragic death — alongside his wife Kenia Marquez, and Jose Argueta, a farmer who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The couple was traveling on their motorcycle Sunday evening (Nov 15, 2020) along the highway to the community of Las Flores near Marcala, when they were intercepted by two heavily armed men blocking their passage.  Jose was a witness to the assault which quickly turned into the scene of a triple murder. The two men rode off on the motorcycle, with the cellphones from all three of the victims.

Since that fateful evening, Marcala has been in mourning and indignation. Social media pages are filled with an outpouring of love and tears, and consolation for the families. Roberto, Kenia and Jose perpetuated love and goodness in their daily lives and life’s work. And COMSA was a healthy space that nurtured and allowed souls such as theirs to shine.

Today, the streets of Marcala are still echoing with demands for justice and for an end to the impunity that has reigned over many parts of Honduras and now sweeping across La Paz. Roberto, Kenia and José’s violent departure is a poignant reminder that the historically peaceful town of Marcala remains a city in the Central American triangle, and is not exempted from this kind of danger.  

Last Monday, a crowd gathered in front of the police station and municipal offices in a protest/vigil demanding answers and protection from this gratuitous violence (all were wearing masks, because in addition to this crisis…. the community also continues to confront COVID-19 with minimal access to medical support). Tuesday, the church service and funeral procession brought the community together in prayer and seeking solace, while they stood under the steady rain of Hurricane Iota, the second hurricane hitting Central America in the past two weeks, making its way across the Western part of the country.

As all this unfolds simultaneously, we know that a lot of people in the region are suffering, and we have to ask ourselves, “How much hardship these good people must endure, before change in our societies can bring about health, safety and well-being to these communities and to all people?”  

Please keep the families of Roberto, Kenia and Jose in your thoughts…. and let’s continue pushing for fairness and justice for all! Remember their radiant energy and passion as an example; feed it and hold it close to your hearts. We’ll need it to continue shining in these challenging times.


Remembering Roberto in the Field

Explaining the “COMSA approach” to super efficient compost with the use of micro-organisms, during the 2016 Diplomado Organico in Finca La Fortaleza.


“This was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the reforestation experience in Nicaragua and to see that these farmers have been successful getting some economic recognition for their efforts,” Roberto said. “COMSA has been looking at carbon capture and this gives us some interesting paths to explore… And on a personal level, I intend to experiment with some native species and to plant the seeds I now have in my hands.”

Representing COMSA as a participant at the 2015 Guatemala Regional Learning Exchange, Roberto Nolasco was always a voice of constructive optimism and thoughtful dialog.