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Anti-Militarism: Where Are the Missing Garifuna? Community Claim

Radio Progreso | Honduras

In July it will be two years since four residents of the El Triunfo de la Cruz community, Tela, Atlántida, were kidnapped by men in military and police clothing. Families in the community continue to wait for news and to be reunited with their loved ones.

Garifuna fighter and leader Clara Flores told Radio Progreso that the long wait is extremely painful. She says that every morning when she passes by the community selling bullets, she remembers how Snyder Centeno, one of the disappeared, would buy and they would talk about the community reality.

“Remembering that is still painful because we live in constant anxiety, waiting to find out where they are, what has happened to their lives. It doesn't matter what government is, if our rights continue to be violated, we will continue to fight. We demand that the government be able to strengthen our autonomy,” she says.

 no research

Since the day of the abduction, the Garífuna communities and a large sector of the Honduran population have demanded investigations that provide an answer to the whereabouts of the inhabitants.

Clara Flores assures that there is no progress because they are still the same ones that control the Judicial Power. And although there is hope for a change with the arrival of Xiomara Castro to power, the abuses against the Garífuna communities continue, she says.

“It is still the same Attorney General, the same magistrates, the same people who told us that we are not Hondurans. That is why we continue to push for attention to be paid to our demands”, he concludes.

In February 2021, the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, OFRANEH, in coordination with the Garífuna community, launched the Garífuna Committee for the Investigation and Search of the Disappeared (SUNLA, for its acronym in the Garífuna language).

SUNLA, which in Spanish means Enough!, was born with the aim of finding the whereabouts of the disappeared youth, due to the lack of will and inability of the State of Honduras, to carry out real investigations to solve the crime.

In this sense, the representative of the National Network of Human Rights Defenders, Yessica Trinidad, explains that even with the current government there has been no willingness to recognize SUNLA.

“They don't want to recognize it, although as a Garífuna people we have the right to have our own investigations. But there is no opening, we have attended all the instances, but there is no political will to do so”, he explains.

Trinidad adds that, recently, the community of San Juan, Tela, filed a complaint against the State of Honduras before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Court. There was little hope that things with the new government would be different, but they were surprised to find the same people, the same representatives of recent years before the justice system.

“They had the same positions as years ago. There is nothing different, racism and contempt continue. They continue to think that the Garífuna people are foreigners, when in fact they have been there since before Honduras was a republic,” he says.

breach sentence

On December 18, 2015, a judgment was issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CourtIDH), on the case of the Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra communities, where the State of Honduras was found "internationally responsible" for the violation of various rights of the Garífuna community.

Clara Flores, who is part of the commission for compliance with the sentence, explains that very little progress has been made. “We have not had approaches that mean substantial progress in compliance. The State owes us a report on the visits they have made to the territory.”

new context

For Yessica Trinidad, it cannot be denied that there is a new context in the country, because it is not the same situation in terms of human rights as it was two years ago, that makes her happy and gives her time to think about other things that can be done.

But we cannot stop worrying about what is happening in the Garífuna communities. "It hurts us to see how in some communities that they can no longer even fish in the areas that they did a few years ago, that they can no longer travel through some sectors because the land has been monopolized," he says.

He adds that the privatization of beaches through tourism projects continues to advance in the country. And this is a reflection of the situation of dispossession experienced by the peoples of the country