OPEN LETTER: Human and land rights violation against the Garifuna people in Honduras
To: Honorable Janice Schakowsky and Members of Congress
The Garifuna Nation, which is comprised of about thirty Garifuna organizations from the countries of “Yurumein” Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, the United States of America and is committed to represent the interest of our people, which approximately is about 600,000 worldwide. This includes about 300,000 people who currently reside in the United States and are in the states of New York, California, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Massachusetts, Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey and other states.
We hereby applaud and support the bold stand that is being taken by Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky from the 9th Congressional District in the State of Illinois and her colleagues in Congress, to draft a Resolution highlighting the Human Rights and Land Abuses that is being committed against the Garifuna people and other groups by the President of Honduras Orlando Hernandez and his government. This Resolution will be sent to the US Secretary of State John Kerry to examine the state of affairs in Honduras and to re-examine the current US relations with this country.
Our organization intend to not only support the efforts of Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky and her congressional colleagues but also stand ready, willing and able to provide them with whatever additional evidence and testimonies that they may need to prove this compelling case against the Government of Honduras.
The on-going Human Rights and land infringement cases against the Garifuna people over the years has been documented by several reputable international, regional and local organizations such as; the United Nations, Organization of American States, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and all the Garifuna organizations in the country of Honduras and in the Garifuna diaspora.
We are impressed with the transcript that is being contained in the Congresswoman’s list of Human Rights and land violations that has been occurring against our people in the last six years since the overthrow of the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. We also would like to add that Human Rights Abuses against the Garifuna people has been taking place in Honduras since we first arrived in this country on April the 12th, 1797. These abuses have led to the mass migration of our people to the neighboring countries of; Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, the United States and elsewhere where they continue to reside up to this day.
Every Garifuna person in the diaspora can trace their origins to the country of Honduras. Despite the fact that the Rights of Citizens is clearly spelled out in the Honduran Constitution, the Governments of Honduras over the years has ignored it completely. Especially, when there is a “Military Coup” where “Decrees” are passed by the “Military Juntas” to eliminate any provision in the Constitution they do not agree with. It is a paradox for one to comprehend that a government that breaks the law continue to ask their citizens to obey them.
We are grateful for this action taken by the Congresswoman and the members of the US Congress and we hope and pray that this will lead to significant changes and the decreasing of tensions in Honduras. The situation in Honduras today is explosive and could lead to further tensions if Congress does not intervene on our people’s behalf. We are organizing and communicating with our people on a daily basis and if you need us feel free to call us immediately. We will be awaiting your response to this correspondence. We appeal to our Garifuna people to call and thank this Congresswoman at: (773) 506-7100 or (202) 225-211 and their Congress person at (202) 224-3124 to state their support for this Resolution and ask them to support the Congresswoman with this action.
The Congress of the United States started the engine it is now our responsibility to keep it running.
Officers and Members of the Garifuna Nation
The Garifuna (/ɡəˈrɪfʉnə/ gə-rif-uu-nə; pl. Garinagu in Garifuna) are descendants of West African, Central African, Carib and Arawak people. The British colonial administration used the term Black Carib and Garifuna to distinguish them from Yellow and Red Carib, the Amerindian population that did not intermarry with Africans. The Amerindians who had not intermarried with Africans are still living in the Lesser Antilles; Dominica, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, etc.
Today the Garifuna live primarily in Central America. They live along the Caribbean Coast; in Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras including the mainland, and on the island of Roatán. There are also diaspora communities of Garifuna in the United States, particularly in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and other major cities.