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A Letter to Honduras’s Minister of Human Rights

Your Excellency Minister Cueva

I am addressing you respectfully as Honduras’ Minister of Human Rights, wishing you continued success in your daily work.

On behalf of The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc., a non-partisan, tax-exempt nonprofit organization under tax section 501 (c) (3) based in New York City, I address you in solidarity with the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) and the Garifuna People to ensure that the Republic of Honduras complies with the measures set forth in operative paragraphs six and seven of the Judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Case of the Garifuna Community of Triunfo de la Cruz and its members v. Honduras.

As you know, the State of Honduras must submit to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the United Nations (UN), no later than December 14, 2019, information on the course given to the recommendations listed in paragraphs 19, paragraphs d) and e) (Prior consultation); 21, section c) (Lands, territories and natural resources) of the Concluding Observations on the combined sixth to eighth periodic reports of Honduras.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on October 8, 2015 in the Garifuna Community of Punta Piedra and its members and Garifuna Community of Triunfo de la Cruz and its members, both against the Republic of Honduras, declared the State’s international responsibility in both cases for the violation of the right to collective property protected in Article 21 of the American Convention on Rights, in relation to Articles 1.1 and 2 thereof: i) in the case of the Garifuna Community of Punta Piedra for not guaranteeing the use and enjoy of its territory; ii) in the case of the Garifuna Community of Triunfo de la Cruz for not having titled, delimited and demarcated the territories that were recognized as their traditional lands, and iii) in both cases, for not having guaranteed the right to consultation for the respective communities. It also declared for both cases the violation of the rights to judicial guarantees and judicial protection, protected in articles 8.1 and 25 of the Convention.

In order to achieve full reparation for the accredited violations, the Court ordered the restitution measures set forth in operative paragraphs six and seven. The restitution measures constitute the main reparation of the violations found in the Judgment: that the State demarcate the lands on which collective property title has been granted to the Garifuna Community of Triunfo de la Cruz and grant a duly delimited and demarcated collective property title over the area called “Lot A1”.

The Court considers the time elapsed without significant progress to be worrying. First, because it is a cessation measure, so that until it is complied with, territorial rights continue to be violated and new effects are generated.

Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that the measures set forth in operative paragraphs six and seventh of the Judgment are pending compliance, and requires the State to present updated and detailed information on the adoption of measures to demarcate the lands on which Triunfo de la Cruz has been granted collective property, and to grant said Community a title of collective property duly delimited and demarcated on Lot A1.

We are aware that the Secretary of State for Human Rights (SEDH), and the Martin Luther King Jr. Organization signed an agreement on April 23, 2019. We are also aware that Dr. Tulio Mariano Gonzales serves as Director of the Directorate of Indigenous Peoples and Afro-Hondurans (DINAFROH). However, neither Mr. René García Oliva, representative of the Martin Luther King Jr. Organization, nor Dr. Gonzales, have made any effort to disseminate details of these cases to the Garifuna Community. Interestingly, they are not mentioned in the published press release.

So, as the organization that advocates for Garifuna issues in New York City, home of the largest Garifuna population outside of Central America, we are forced to show solidarity with the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) and the Honduras Garifuna People. We also decided to communicate independently with members of the Afro Parliamentary Group of the National Congress of Honduras (Afro Caucus), as well as Dr. Tulio Mariano Gonzales, to commit them to work together independently of ideologies or political affiliation and join forces for Afro-descendant peoples, to ensure that the Republic of Honduras complies with the measures provided in the Sixth and Seventh operative paragraphs of the Judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Case of the Garifuna Community of Triunfo de la Cruz and its members v. Honduras.

As Garinagu, we respect and honor the legacy of our Ancestors, who with an enormous human sacrifice had to walk for months from Trujillo to Tegucigalpa, capital of the Republic of Honduras to obtain documents on their lands to work and support their families with the fruit the products harvested from their crops. In honor of this legacy, we support the struggle for the vindication of the political, economic, social and environmental rights of the Garifuna People. We also honor the spiritual principle of “Au bun, Amürü nu” (I for you and You for me). It is under this principle that we stand in solidarity with the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), to ensure that the State of Honduras complies with the sixth and seventh operative points of the Judgment.

The State of Honduras must submit to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights no later than October 18, 2019, a report on all measures pending compliance, in accordance with the aforementioned operative paragraphs. On the occasion of this milestone, we will publish a press release, in which we will include the names of allies that support the Garifuna Communities Landgrab Issue cause, we hope to include you.

We also reserve the right to take all necessary measures; including, requesting the help of our allies and supporters of Civil and Human Rights, the United States Congress, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the World Bank, Bank Inter-American Development and other multilateral organizations, as well as the mobilization of the Garifuna People, to demand the justice and respect they deserve.

We await your response to this very important issue for the Garifuna People.

Respectfully,
José Francisco Ávila López
Súngubei lidan Aban, Garinagu Wagia!

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