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-OFRANEH The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) was created in 1979 to protect the economic, social, and cultural rights of 46 Garifuna communities along the Atlantic coast of Honduras. At once Afro-descendent and indigenous, the Garifuna people are connected to both the land and the sea, and sustain themselves through farming and fishing. Land grabs for agrofuels (African palm plantations), tourist-resort development, and narco-trafficking seriously threaten their way of life, as do rising sea levels and the increased frequency and severity of storms due to climate change. The Garifuna, who have already survived slavery and colonialism, are now defending and strengthening their land security and their sustainable, small-scale farming and fishing. OFRANEH brings together communities to meet these challenges head-on through direct-action community organizing, national and international legal action, promotion of Garifuna culture, and movement-building. In its work, OFRANEH especially prioritizes the leadership development of women and youth.
Coordinator Miriam Miranda said, “Our liberation starts because we can plant what we eat. This is food sovereignty. We need to produce to bring autonomy and the sovereignty of our peoples. If we continue to consume [only], it doesn’t matter how much we shout and protest. We need to become producers. It’s about touching the pocketbook, the surest way to overcome our enemies. It’s also about recovering and reaffirming our connections to the soil, to our communities, to our land.”
Garífunas Arrested for Occupying Their Own Land
-COPINH struggles for life, for defense of Mother Earth, for Indigenous autonomy, and for a world where the rights as Indigenous people and all people are respected.
The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) is an Indigenous Lenca organization made up of 200 Lenca communities in the western Honduran states of Intibuca, Lempira, La Paz, and Santa Barbara. COPINH was born in 1993 when the Indigenous and popular movements in the Honduran state of Intibuca came together to stop logging and advance popular struggles. Today, COPINH encompasses 4 states in western Honduras and struggles for the rights of the Lenca people, including environmental, cultural, economic, social, health, education, and Indigenous rights. COPINH defends the Lenca territory and our natural resources as part of our Lenca cosmovision of respect for Mother Earth.
For over 20 years, the Lenca people organized in COPINH have defended our communities and natural resources from logging, dams, mining projects, and other megaproyects that would destroy our way of life and environment. We have stopped at least 50 logging projects that would have deforested our land and forests and 10 hydroelectric dams that threatened Lenca communities, including the huge Tigre Dam project on the border of Honduras and El Salvador. Together with other Indigenous organizations we successfully pressured that the Honduran government to ratify ILO Convention 169 on the Rights of Indigenous People, which includes the right to free, prior, and informed consultation of Indigenous communities about projects that affect us. COPINH has also successfully fought for the creation and funding of health centers and schools in Lenca communities.
COPINH has also worked to obtain communal land titles for Indigenous communities as a way of defending our territory and natural resources from incursion and destruction. We have won over 100 communal land titles, which are governed by community land councils, as well as the creation of 2 Indigenous municipalities and the declaration of protected zones to prevent logging.
Through General Assemblies COPINH has also taken a strong position on women´s rights and works to address machismo and promote respect for leadership of women in our communities and organizations. COPINH acts in solidarity with many other struggles and is active in national and international struggles and networks.