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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates

News Article

Honduras: Following a congressional delegation trip to Honduras in 2021, representatives Cori Bush (MO-01), Ilhan Omar (MN-05),  Jesus “Chuy” García (IL-04), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and Jamaal Bowman Ed.D. (NY-16) introduced a resolution in support 0f the Afro-Indigenous Garífuna people. The Garífuna communities have been been facing violence by the Honduran government and complicit multilateral institutions. These violations against the Garífuna communities were out called by The Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights earlier without any severe consequences. The resolution condemns violence against the communities going on for years without any accountability towards the perpetrators, as proven by an incident in July 2020 when four Garífuna men were abducted at gunpoint by men in Honduran security force uniforms. Instead of initiating an investigation into  those responsible, the Honduran attorney general has called for criminal proceedings against leaders of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH).

The new resolution specifically:

  • Condemns violence against the Garífuna people and the illegal separation from their legitimate land rights, and calls for the implementation of a 2015 Inter-American Court ruling restoring those land rights;
  • Calls for the full participation of an independent commission created by Garífuna communities in the investigation of the four Garífuna men abducted in July 2020;
  • Calls for a Special Prosecutor for Enforced Disappearances in Honduras;
  • Calls for a review of past projects by multilateral development banks that may have contributed to violating the rights of the Garífuna people, and compliance with human rights law before the approval of projects that affect Garífuna communities; and
  • Calls on the U.S. government to engage with the Honduran government and international allies and organizations to promote the rights of Garífuna communities and to advocate for reparations for affected communities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

The resolution is endorsed by: Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective (WfP-SC), Institute for Policy Studies - Global Economy Program , School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), and Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN).

More on the motivations of the congresspeople and NGOs can be found in their statements in the full article, which also includes a link to the full resolution. 

News Article

A Nevada-based mining firm is suing Guatemala for more than $400 million, the first suit of its kind for the impoverished Central American country. 

The lawsuit which began on June 22 with the consultation process was filed at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a branch of the World Bank, and is based on CAFTA (Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement with the US). It allows transnational corporations to sue for alleged losses of investment. In the recent lawsuit, the Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) mining firm claims that the Guatemalan government has not done enough to protect their investment. A dubious claim seeing how the police oppresses indigenous anti-mining protests. KCA's gold mine, which has been the sight of constant protest, was only in operation for two years, until the courts suspended the project in late 2015 over failure to adequately consult with the habitants of the La Puya area. Furthermore, the mine was the cause of massive environmental damages leading to health issues within the population. Individuals with courage to speak out against the operation were met with threats, violence, persecution and police repression. 

In their defense against KCA's lawsuit, the Guatemalan government brings forward information gathered by activists located in La Puya while ignoring the the interests of the communities. The KCA case also sheds light on corruption within Guatemala's former government as Daniel Kapps was meeting with the Director General of Mining Selvyn Morales in 2011 in an effort to seek a building permit. Shortly after this meeting Morales left his position in the government to work for a mining services company, which KCA immediately hired. Guatemala's government argues that KCA violated environmental norms and failed to obtain its construction license to build its mine, thus not having a right to be reimbursed for their losses. 

Indigenous communities criticize that the Guatemalan government argues on the claims and findings of activists while disregarding the needs and interests of the habitants.