Honduras: Strategy of Expulsion through Threats to the Garifuna Communities of the Bay of Tela



Garífuna Territory, October 24, 2022

WE DENOUNCE: that in recent days the Garifuna communities of Tela Bay (Triunfo de la Cruz, San Juan, Tornabé, Rio Tinto and La Ensenada) face a cruel and cowardly wave of threats, persecution and attacks against the leaders, mainly against the young “Leménigi Durugubuti”, the group of the Rastas and the Land Defense Committee of these communities. All this with the purpose of imposing fear in the population and the grabbing of the territory by third parties that seek to empty and displace the communities before the complicit passivity of the local and national authorities.

These Garifuna communities, located in the Bay of Tela, not only dispute their territory with organized crime groups, but also with the monoculture plantations of death, with the tourist industries of dispossession, mainly Indura Beach Resort, Shores Plantations, Marbella, Playa Escondida, Rosa Negra and other properties improperly acquired and legalized by the Municipality of Tela where today they develop large-scale cattle ranching and build beach houses within our communities for the rich who control the country.

This week the power groups and the elites of transnational capital have circulated an audio that contains fearful death threats for the defenders of the territories of the communities of Tornabé, San Juan and Triunfo de la Cruz and armed men have also been reported prowling the communities and asking for the addresses of the comrades who defend the lands and territory of their communities. In this audio you can clearly hear a recorded conversation between a community member and one of the third parties issuing the threats.

It is worrying that the thugs are using people from the same community to identify and send these messages of death threats to the leaders of these communities. In addition, a member of the San Juan community also stated that certain third party groups have offered him money to identify and hand over some leaders of the San Juan community.

The community of Triunfo de la Cruz relives the tragic morning of July 18, 2020, when an operation of more than 30 heavily armed men, commanded by official forces of the Department of the Honduran Investigative Police (DPI), broke into the tranquility of the community where they kidnapped and then disappeared the president of the board of trustees of this community Sneider Centeno and with him three other young people, with the aim of removing him from the board and prevent further demands for respect and restitution of the territory of their community. This was a day decreed in absolute curfew, in which only the official security forces of the country could circulate freely. These forced disappearances occurred in a context in which there were other acts of violence, murders, persecution and intimidation against defenders of Garífuna ancestral territories.

We have filed countless complaints and we have even gone to the protection mechanism to protect the Garifuna communities, which by the way, many have precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and also Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra have a final judgment issued in 2015 by the IACHR Court, for violation of the right to collective property of both communities; while the community of San Juan this year held a hearing before the same instance for a similar case.

The failure to comply with the judgments of the IACHR Court, not only shows the unwillingness of the State of Honduras to respect the human rights of the Garifuna people, internationally recognized, but also by the time elapsed has deliberately endangered the members of the Community and contributes to an increase in conflict in these communities.

The IACHR Court has stated that “the lack of land protection and the special significance that this land has for the Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz, implies that any denial to the enjoyment or exercise of territorial rights entails the undermining of very representative values for the members of these peoples, who run the risk of losing or suffering irreparable damage in their life and cultural identity and in the cultural heritage to be transmitted to future generations”.

We alert the people in general mobilized nationally and internationally, allies, organizations and governments in solidarity to maintain the demand for justice and a stop to the persecution and threats to the leadership of our Garifuna people; we also hold directly responsible the businessmen of: Indura Beach Resort, Shores Plantations, Marbella, Playa Escondida, Rosa Negra and others; for any attack that causes harm, emotional, physical or of any other nature towards the defenders of the Garifuna communities of Triunfo de la Cruz, San Juan, Tornabe, Rio Tinto and La Ensenada.

Stop the implementation of terror in our Garifuna communities!!!!

The Garifuna people deserve to live in peace !

Our youth deserve another future!

Stop the institutional racism against our Garifuna people!!!

We demand compliance with the judgments of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the Garifuna People!!!!

We demand Truth and Justice for the Forced Disappearance of our Youth from Triunfo de la Cruz.

Honduran Black Fraternal Organization, OFRANEH