Six delegates from Belize returned home after a round of meetings earlier this month with the Garifuna communities in Honduras over land rights and the groups’ progress in land development.
The representatives met with leaders from the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras, an organization formed in 1978 that incorporates members from all 46 Garifuna communities along the Honduran Caribbean coastline.
During their meetings which took place from June 24 to July 6, the cultural rights group welcomed 17 delegates to Vallecito, a recently repossessed territory in Garifuna, sacred to its people. Ofraneh stated the presence of the Belizean officials were of particular importance considering the decades of land property debates.
During their stay, the foreign delegates participated in a number of events revolving around the Black, Indigenous and feminist movements as well as discussions on alternative media, urban land defense, anti-militarism and anti-imperialism and other popular social movements throughout the Americas, including Ecuador, Peru and the U.S. African American community.
Two representatives from Belize’s Yugada/Hopkins coast, Baba Felix Miranda and Uwahnie Martinez took the opportunity to meet with Garinagu people from Belize in order to develop strategies of land recuperation and community-led projects.
Garinagu communities, who arrived in the Central American nation in the early 19th century, have a history of suffering cultural and racial discrimination.
Through these discussions, the groups of officials were able to form long-term plans for consultation and community development.
Since its foundation, Ofraneh has worked to conserve land and justice, forming numerous initiatives and denouncing the multinational corporations and organizations which have swept the countryside hunting for the Indigenous property for its wealth in natural resources.
Additionally, the cultural protectors have voiced their opinions rejecting hundreds of mining and dam concessions, oil exploration, foreign-owned projects, denounced land thefts by foreign parties, and fighting for the right to continue to incorporate cultural education and bilingualism in education.
“In this work there is no rest, not even at night. It is always working with others, for others. It is work for life and livelihood, it is a work for the future,” said Ofraneh’s leading coordinator Miriam Miranda.
The organization has proved that it is a force to be reckoned with, filing and winning a lawsuit in 2015 against the Honduran state acquiring its long awaited reparations for violating Indigenous rights and territorial claims through the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
An international court awarded the plaintiff US$1.5 million for the two wronged communities in question as well as the return and demarcation of the ancestral lands.