End Repression of the Afro-Indigenous Garifuna People of Honduras Action Report

Peace Advocate Summer 2021

End Repression of Garifuna
End Repression of Garifuna

Resisting slavery, colonialism, and neoliberalism, defending their livelihood and the environment.

End Repression of the Afro-Indigenous Garifuna People of Honduras!

Where are the kidnapped Garifuna Leaders?

A Rally was held on Friday, June 4, 2021, 2-3 PM, outside the office of congressman McGovern’s office on 94 Pleasant Street in Northampton to protest the violent repression by the government of Honduras and militias working for them. In 2009 a US backed coup removed the democratically elected president of Honduras. Violence spiked after the coup, and so did murders of social movement activists, indigenous community leaders, and journalists. By 2010, Honduras had the highest per capita homicide rate in the world outside of active war zones, and it retained the top spot for three years.

Recently the Garifuna people in Honduras were the target of genocidal violence against them.

The Garifuna are an Afro-Indigenous peoples who are the descendants of the African survivors of slave ships that were wrecked off the island of St. Vincent around 1675 and were welcomed by the Indigenous Kalingo People native to the island. In the late 18th century, the British exiled the Garifuna from the island and forcefully moved them to the Honduran coast and Belize. Over the years, the group has struggled to defend themselves against violent land grabs and hundreds of land defenders have been killed, threatened, or silenced.  According to the Garifuna leader Miriam Miranda, who is the executive director of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, the kidnapping and disappearance of the four Garifuna leaders in July 2020 is a reflection of systemic persecution, systemic repression, but also a well-crafted plan by the Honduran state to exterminate the Garifuna community. … It is important to understand that this pressure, this repression, and everything we are facing is because we are a community in constant fight for ancestral rights. She added, “Since the 2009 U.S.-backed coup that pushed out President Manuel Zelaya, the beast is on the loose, police and military have the freedom to do whatever they want.”

The struggle of the Garifuna community is part of the historical struggle of Africans in the Americas for emancipation, recognition, reparations, and autonomy. It is a struggle against imperialism, and neoliberalism, and it is a struggle to protect the environment from greedy investors.

For a few weeks before the rally signatures were collected to sign a public letter to congressman McGovern asking him to do more to end the repression of the Garifuna people, and free their kidnapped leaders.

In the letter we call on our representatives to push the Biden Administration to demand the Honduran government:

  • Create an independent forensics team with a Human Rights orientation and expertise to investigate the disappearances and assassinations in the Garifuna territories and elsewhere in Honduran indigenous lands.
  • Immediately end all harassment and violence against OFRANEH, Garifuna leaders, and all Garifuna communities in Honduras.
  • Stop the campaign of violence to dispossess the Garifuna communities from their lands and respect their rights to their ancestral territory.
  • Fully prosecute all those responsible for crimes against humanity and for all violence against the Garifuna people. There must be justice for all victims.”

In addition, the letter asks Congressman McGovern, who is the Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, to immediately call hearings on human rights abuses and their relationship to the US-supported Honduran government.

The letter was signed by more than 60 residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and was sent to congressman McGovern and the media.

The rally is organized by the Latin America Solidarity Coalition of WMASS L and is cosponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action.