FROM THE EDITORS: The state’s offensive against indigenous communities in Honduras has been particularly cruel against the Lenca and Garifuna peoples. During the pandemic, these communities organized to help those in need and took steps to self-isolate to protect their loved ones. The state, meanwhile, ignored pleas for urgent aid and pushed forward “tourism” development and oil extraction projects. These have been accompanied by the selective murder of leaders and activists to try to weaken their resistance against megaprojects, carried out against the will of local Hondurans. Today the Garifuna people speak out against this siege on human rights and their territories. Below we reproduce a translation of a communiqué by the Garifuna’s people on their 224 years of resistance.
224 YEARS OF RESISTANCE OF THE GARÍFUNA PEOPLE IN HONDURAS
NOTHING TO CELEBRATE
Today marks the 224th anniversary of the presence of the Garifuna people in Honduras, the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras ratifies that THERE IS NOTHING TO CELEBRATE and we declare that after more than two centuries, the threat of a third violent, intentional exile is still here via a plan of genocide against the Garífuna people, perpetrated by the State of Honduras to favor powerful national and international economic interests. More than 40 Garífuna have been assassinated in the last three years, and a large number left their communities due to the generalized violence, threats, criminalization and persecution against them.
Given the increase in forced disappearances, aggressions, persecutions, assassinations, violence, criminalization and prosecution against the Garífuna people, and non-compliance with the [IACHR] court’s ruling, we communicate the following:
- We demand that the State COMPLIES IMMEDIATELY with the court ruling issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2015 in favor of the Garífuna communities of Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra. And we condemn the breach of said ruling for the past 5 years, a situation that has worsened the hostility towards the Garífuna people.
- We say ENOUGH to the threats, persecutions, criminalization and prosecution of the leaders who defend their territory. We repudiate campaigns set to discredit and stigmatize, as well as baseless accusations against the Garífuna communities.
- We demand that the forced displacements that we the Garífunas people are victims of STOP IMMEDIATELY, which force us to leave our communities, becoming a doubly catastrophic experience because our life is intimately linked to the land and displacement forces us to live in urban spaces that distances us from our ancestral relationship with the earth and nature.
- We reject the military presence in our territories and strongly repudiate the dishonest policy of fighting against drug trafficking that pursues, as its ultimate goal, the militarization of our communities. Leaving in its wake a trail of murders, intimidation and terror, with the aim of appropriating our territories and sowing violence in our communities that are islands of peace in a sea of violence.
- We demand the return, alive, of the president of the Triunfo de la Cruz [Municipal] Patronage and OFRANEH member, Snaider Centeno, as well as our brothers Suami Mejía, Milton Martínez and Gerardo Trochez, who have been victims of forced disappearance by members of the Police Directorate of Investigation (DPI) since July 18, 2020, for which to date we have not received concrete and specific response from the State on the search and investigation.
- We reaffirm our right to defend and remain in our territories, which are our communities’ source of life and sustenance. Our struggle for the defense of our territories has been present since April 12, 1797, long before the independence of Honduras in 1821. Therefore, today more than ever, we reclaim the collective ownership of and belonging to our ancestral territories.
- We alert the international community and human rights oversight entities about the systematic genocide that the Garífuna people are victims of, by the Honduras government.
Today we do not celebrate, we fight and resist structural and institutional racism. This day we remember our history, which continues to be present and alive in the struggle and resistance of our people, despite attempts to erase it from the national memory.
April 12, 2021
For life and territory, justice and truth for the Garífuna people
Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)
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