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Fwd: Fw: HONDURAS: Garifuna leader forced at gunpoint to yield community land

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  • huacan vidal
    Godsman Ellis wrote: From: Godsman Ellis To: Godsman Subject: Fw: HONDURAS: Garifuna leader
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7, 2006
      Godsman Ellis <godsman1@...> wrote:
      From: "Godsman Ellis" <godsman1@...>
      To: "Godsman" <godsman1@...>
      Subject: Fw: HONDURAS: Garifuna leader forced at gunpoint to yield community land
      Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2006 16:07:32 -0600

      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Monday, July 03, 2006 12:43 PM
      Subject: Fw: HONDURAS: Garifuna leader forced at gunpoint to yield community land

      Estimados Colegas,
      Hace dos semanas que regrese de una visita a Honduras con la OFRANEH incl. Jesica, Wilredo y Miriam.  Visite al muro construido en Nuevo San Juan por Rosenthal. Tambien la Laguna de los Micos en Tornabe la que me informan que yo se vendio a inversionistas para $100,000. U.S.  En una reunion en Sambo Creek con la junta directiva de OFRANEH, el discurso sobre la PATH fue claramente una manifestacion de violacion de los derechos del pueblo (Garifuna) en la tenencia de las tierras de sus ancestros.  El portamiento del Banco Mundial en falta de reconocer Convenio 169 da rucha razon para una 'solicitud' por parte de OFRANEH para investigacion.
      El no estar presente en Honduras se hace facil para garifunas afuera tomar una indiferencia a la situacion en Honduras y en ese sentido apoyo la sugerencia de Sandra Cuffe en tratar de internacionalizar el asunto en escribir las embajadas.
      Tomo esta oportunidad en felicitar a los miembros de OFRANEH en particular, Miriam, Liliam, selvyn, Jessica y Wilfredo Lopez (un garifuna muy distinguido)
      En la lucha
      godsman ellis
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Monday, July 03, 2006 7:26 AM
      Subject: HONDURAS: Garifuna leader forced at gunpoint to yield community land

      June 30, 2006.

      (prepared by Sandra Cuffe, caminando27@... )

      - Good: Montaña Verde political prisoner Margarito Vargas granted
      Provisional Freedom;
      - Bad: Indigenous-African descendant Garifuna community leader forced at
      gunpoint to sign document giving up San Juan community lands to wealthy
      investors in the global tourism industry;

      Rights Action asks for your timely response to the ongoing persecution of
      Garifuna community leaders.

      To get on-off this elist: info@....


      THE GOOD:  On June 28, Margarito Vargas Ponce – of the Montana Verde
      community (same as the Miranda brothers political prisoners) - was released
      from jail, after some six months of unjust imprisonment. Cleared of all
      other charges, in the end he was sentenced to three years in prison for
      complicity in a battery charge by Judge Hermes Moncada in Gracias. Under the
      new penal code, this sentence may be served in "provisional" liberty,
      meaning Margarito must present himself before local judicial authorities
      every two months and if found guilty of any other accusation within the next
      five years, he will then have to do the time in jail for both charges.

      Despite the fact that the sentence is clearly a part of the ongoing misuse
      and abuse of the judicial system to persecute community leaders struggling
      for community land rights, Margarito's release from jail is good news. He
      will soon be reunited with his family and community. Less than 24 hours
      after his release, he was participating with other members of COPINH in a
      struggle to defend communities' rights, lands and development from the
      threat of the El Tigre bi-national hydroelectric dam that will flood entire
      communities in southwestern Honduras.

      THE BAD - URGENT ACTION neede: San Juan Indigenous-African descendant
      Garifuna community leader Jessica García was forced at gunpoint to sign a
      document relinquishing community land rights.

      On Thursday June 22, 2006, an unknown man arrived at the house of Jessica
      García, community leader and President of the San Juan Tela 'Patronato', a
      local organization representing community interests to government
      institutions. He offered her money in exchange for her signature of a
      document in which the community recognizes the rights of private real estate
      company PROMOTUR to communal lands belonging to the Garifuna community of
      San Juan, located in the Tela Bay, department of Atlántida. When Jessica
      García refused to accept the money and sign the agreement, she was
      threatened and was forced to sign the document at gunpoint.

      This incident is the latest in a series of grave human rights violations
      against the community of San Juan, collectively, and against individual
      outspoken community leaders. Along with the San Juan Lands Defense Committee
      president Wilfredo Guerrero, Jessica García has been one of the most active
      community leaders in the defense of communal lands and thus also a target
      for threats and persecution.

      Years ago, the community of San Juan was granted a communal guarantee of
      occupation to 1775 hectares of land. This crucial document, however,
      conveniently 'disappeared' from a government office in 1997. Other important
      community documents were conveniently 'burned' last year, when the home of
      San Juan Lands Defense Committee president Wilfredo Guerrero was burnt to
      the ground in a related attack against the community.

      San Juan has since been awarded a land deed of only 63 hectares, barely
      consisting of the current residential area, to the exclusion of the
      residential area of "Nueva San Juan" and all of the agricultural lands and
      natural resources vital to the subsistence and cultural survival of the
      whole community.

      Despite the ongoing struggle to defend and obtain legal recognition for the
      entire communal territory, the loss and manipulation of official land
      documentation has cleared the way for the powerful interests that have long
      coveted the valuable lands along the Tela Bay, part of the country's
      Caribbean coast.

      In the Nueva San Juan neighbourhood, with an illegitimate land deed,
      numerous incursions and threats have been made by PROMOTUR, owned by Jaime
      Rosenthal, powerful politician, banker, landowner and media owner. The
      latter's son, Yani Rosenthal, is both the Presidential Minister and an
      investor in the Los Micos Beach & Golf Resort, an environmentally and
      culturally destructive internationally financed (IDB, Inter-American
      Development Bank, BCIE, Central American Bank of Economic Integration, and
      investors from Italy and Spain) tourism complex planned between the Garifuna
      communities of Tornabé and Miami, neighbouring San Juan in the Tela Bay.

      The struggle of Jessica García, Wilfredo Guerrero and others to defend the
      community of San Juan's collective rights and lands from such powerful and
      destructive interests has been met with intense repression and persecution.
      Last November, Wilfredo Guerrero's house, along with all of his belongings
      and the Lands Defense Committee's archives, was burned to the ground. Other
      community members' houses were destroyed this past March and April.

      On January 14, 2006, PROMOTUR representatives entered the community
      accompanied by a number of hooded men, armed with AK47s (illegal in
      Honduras). Although some of the intruders were detained after the community
      denounced their illegal construction of a wall around part of the disputed
      land, others returned the following day to intimidate the community.

      On February 26, 2006, the bodies of San Juan community members Epson Andrés
      Castillo and Yino Eligio López were found in a lagoon near the community of
      La Ensenada, also along the Tela Bay. Both Garifuna youth were reportedly
      detained the previous night near Tornabé by public security forces agents
      allegedly assigned to protect the zone destined for the Los Micos enclave
      tourism project.

      The motive of this double murder has not been explained or clarified; thus,
      many local community members interpret it as one more grave human rights
      violation carried out with the objective of terrorizing the local Garifuna

      Local community organizations, the Honduran Fraternal Black Organization
      (OFRANEH), and other organizations, such as Rights Action, have repeatedly
      denounced many of these serious threats and crimes against the community of
      San Juan. Nevertheless, as has been demonstrated by the armed threats
      against Jessica García, the systematic persecution of Garifuna community
      leaders continues. Ongoing national and international attention and presence
      is urgently needed.

      WHAT TO DO:
      Please write your own letters both to Honduran and US/Canadian diplomats, to
      your local government representatives, newspaper or other media outlet in
      order to raise attention to the critical situation facing San Juan and other
      Garifuna communities:
      - denouncing the June 22 threats and intimidation against Jessica García and
      asking for protection for her and her family;
      - denouncing the series of grave human rights violations, such as the
      destruction of Wilfredo Guerrero's house in November and the February murder
      of two San Juan youth;
      - expressing your concern that these abuses stem from the violations of the
      afro-indigenous community's collective land and cultural rights by the
      government, PROMOTUR and destructive internationally financed projects such
      as Los Micos Beach & Golf Resort, highlighting the decision-making power
      (and thus responsibility) of the US and Canada within the multilateral
      institutions financing these projects, such as the Inter-American
      Development Bank;
      - urging that immediate action be taken to effect justice in past cases of
      human rights violations and to prevent further persecution and repression,
      such as the recognition of the San Juan community's legal rights to their
      full communal territory;
      - communicating that you expect and thanks in advance a timely response to
      your concerns.

      Honduran Embassy in Canada: tel. (613) 233-9800, fax (613) 232-0913,
      Canadian Embassy in Honduras: tel. (504) 232-4551, fax (504) 239-7767,

      Honduran Embassy in DC: tel. (202) 966-7702, fax (202) 966-9751,
      US Embassy in Honduras: tel. (504) 236-9320 or 238-5114, fax (504) 237-1792

      Spanish speakers/writers may also directly either send letters to the
      following authorities:

      Lic. Jany del Cid Martínez
      Address: Av. República Dominicana, Edificio Las Lomas, Plaza #2, Colonia Las
      Lomas del Guijarro, Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., Honduras
      Email: janydelcid@...
      Fax: (504) 221-5620

      Public Prosecutor's Office (Ministerio Público/Fiscalía): fax (504) 448-1758


      WHAT TO DO:
      - be a human rights accompanier with Indigenous-African descendant Garifuna
      - come on educational-solidarity delegations to Honduras;
      - establish long-term partnerships with OFRANEH and Garifuna communities;
      - donate funds [via Rights Action] for the community development,
      environment and defense work of OFRANEH and Garifuna organizations.

      Carry it on … info@...

      "...when faithful human beings or other creatures called upon them for help, they [the Powers of the Four Directions] must send their powers..."
      --Fools Crow, LAKOTA
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