Internationalist solidarity with the Garifuna community in Honduras. We demand the four garífunas from Triunfo de la Cruz be found alive.

To the Honduran Government:

We, the undersigned, express our concern, indignation at and repudiation of the kidnapping of Alberth Snaider Centeno Tomas - president of the Patronato de Triunfo de la Cruz - Milton Joel Martínez Alvarez, Suami Aparicio Mejía and Albert Sentana Thomas.

As you are aware of, members of the Triunfo de la Cruz community in Tela city, and members of OFRANEH, the Afro-Indigenous Garifuna Peoples’ organisation of Honduras, were abducted on 18 July 2020 from their homes by heavily armed gunmen wearing national police uniforms and waistcoats bearing the Police Department of Investigations (DPI) badge.

Ever since, and despite continued complaints by national and international organisations and movements, the Honduran authorities have failed to respond effectively to queries regarding ongoing investigations into the whereabouts of the four kidnapped men.

As is well known within and beyond this Central American country, the indigenous Garifuna community of Honduras has been suffering systematic attacks for several years now. These attacks are perpetrated by agribusinesses, among others, and more recently by land grabbers for housing and tourist developments.

OFRANEH’s longstanding democratic and legitimate commitment to defending the territory, and their ongoing public denunciation of violations of peoples’ rights and their own human rights, has resulted in the organisation’s members becoming the targets of attacks. They repeatedly face threats, persecution, killings and despicable actions such as the one we here denounce: the kidnapping of those who oppose the neoliberal model of privatisation and commodification of the territories and natural resources upon which communities rely.

According to information gathered and examined with support from resisting peoples and organisations that monitor human rights in Honduras, the INDURA hotel on the Honduran northern coast and the PUNTA IZOPO National Park in Tela have been denounced by locals for misappropriating land and driving local people out. Similarly, real estate development companies MACERICA and IDETRISA have been reported for illegal land possession.

Garifuna peoples have not been consulted on any of the projects developed by these companies, as is legally mandated in order to comply with the right of Indigenous Peoples to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, under the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Convention 169, ratified by Honduras in 1995.

The attacks have seen a sharp rise since 2015, when the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACrtHR) ordered the restitution of land and reparation of damages for the Triunfo de la Cruz community. The complaint was filed in 2003 in the IACHR and admitted on 14 March 2006. On 8 October 2015 the IACrtHR issued a ruling against the State of Honduras for all these acts of violation of the territorial and collective rights of the Triunfo de la Cruz community. This ruling establishes the State’s responsibility and its obligation to guarantee the rights of the community, to repair the damages caused, and to ensure adequate mechanisms to prevent the repetition of such acts. Yet so far, almost five years later, the ruling has not been enforced, the community is still being violated and 17 people were murdered last year –eleven men and six women.

Recently and in the past several years, organisations at the national and international level have denounced the brutal violence endured by organisations, social movements and communities in Honduras. We have compiled information, documented complaints, and placed on the ethical and historical record the appalling situation to which the Garifuna people have been driven, with no decisive action being taken by the Honduran State and the successive governments in office to address this situation.

In view of the increasing criminalisation of this Indigenous Peoples and all the combined strategies of community dispossession dispensed on them and the continued violation of their rights we reiterate our condemnation and denunciation of the kidnapping of the Garifuna community defenders. We also denounce all crimes against humanity inflicted on community leaders who are political subjects in resistance to the extermination model and in defence of their ancestral territories –men and women who are essential in dignifying the life of the popular classes.

We emphatically denounce the systematic violence that is being inflicted on the Honduran peoples and is resulting each day in ever more victims –more men and women murdered and more families unable to meet their basic needs— while neoliberalism is plundering territories to benefit transnational corporations profiting from the pandemic that their irresponsible and criminal actions are exacerbating.

Given the prevailing impunity in Honduras - that we denounce through this declaration - we join forces with the social organisations of Honduras in demanding from the national government:

* The immediate location alive of the four kidnapped Garifuna members of the Triunfo de la Cruz community, including the chairperson of the community’s Patronato association and member of OFRANEH.

* The immediate end to the systematic and intentional violence against the Garifuna people.

* The urgent enforcement of the IACrtHR ruling that orders the State –among other actors— to clean up, issue land titles for and demarcate 2840 hectares that are part of the Garifuna ancestral territory, and restore 22 hectares of land in the hands of the Tela municipality Workers Union back to the Triunfo de la Cruz community as the legitimate owner, as well as 98 hectares that are illegally held by the MACERICA and IDETRISA companies who are developing the Marbella and Playa Escondida housing projects.

We stand in solidarity with OFRANEH and all the Honduran social and popular organisations and movements, and we will continue practicing internationalist solidarity until those kidnapped are found alive and the systematic violence and attacks against our peoples are stopped.

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