OFRANEH Declaration on the Extermination of the Leaders and Members of the Garifuna Communities

We, the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH), express our deep concern about the escalation of violent deaths and the extermination of the inhabitants of the Garifuna communities, mainly women, without any investigation by the authorities into these murders. So far in the months of September and October, six (6) Garifuna women have been violently murdered in the communities by outsiders (ladinos/mestizos/blancos). The intensification of tension and the growing risks to the security and human rights of the leaders in the communities and ancestral territories is a product of the dispossession, displacement and criminalization towards the communities and of the mega extractive projects promoted by the state together with the national and international corporations.

At midday today, October 12, 2019, two armed ladinos arrived at the home of teacher María Digna Montero and murdered her with multiple gunshot wounds in the community of Cusuna, municipality of Iriona, Department of Colón. The facineros fled on a motorcycle and the teacher’s body was reported to be lying there until 5:00pm waiting for the authorities to remove it.

In this context of systematic violence and death and the complicity of the State for its ineffectiveness and its inability to provide security to our communities, the vulnerability and dangers are exacerbated because the State of Honduras refuses to recognize our ancestral rights and to comply with the condemning sentences issued in 2015 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the repeated violation of the human rights of the Garífuna communities of Punta Piedra and Triunfo de la Cruz.

Faced with this grave situation of death and extermination and the great threats to the human rights and security of members of the Garífuna communities in Honduras, we pronounce ourselves:

We condemn the cowardly murder of Garífuna teacher María Digna Montero and demand that this crime be investigated and that both material and intellectual killers be put behind bars.

We demand the demilitarization of the region and the Garífuna communities because their presence does not guarantee the safety of the communities. On the contrary, the more military personnel in the communities, the more murders have been reported from the members of these communities.

We alert the national and international community to the situation of defenselessness in which the Garífuna communities find themselves and condemn what has become a threat of extermination and expulsion of the Garífuna people from their communities, as a result of these murders and the constant intimidation and threats to which community leaders are subjected by people outside the community.

We alert all Garífuna communities in Honduras to remain vigilant of their communities and that, making use of the principles of Territorial Autonomy and Self-Determination, they can activate the mechanisms of security and ancestral self-protection in the face of total abandonment and unprotection of the communities by the state.

We reiterate our commitment to non-violent struggle and demand the exercise of the rule of law in the country, as well as an end to the crimes directed at the Garífuna communities as part of a strategy of intimidation and systematic expulsion by the State of Honduras.

Today, October 12, 2019, history is once again marked by the systematic repression exercised by state governments against the indigenous peoples of the world, especially at this moment in Ecuador and the assassination of our Garifuna leaders in Honduras.

We reaffirm that we will continue to defend and fight for our ancestral rights, territorial and cultural autonomy.

We demand justice for our murdered Garifuna comrades!

La Ceiba October 12, 2019
Honduran Black Fraternal Organization, OFRANEH