Four Afro-Indigenous Garifuna land defenders kidnapped in Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras
Photo: Sneider Centeno, one of the Garifuna land defenders kidnapped on July 18.
On the morning of Saturday July 18, Miriam Miranda, the leader of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), tweeted: “We are informed from the community of Triunfo de la Cruz, that the president of the Board of Trustees Sneider Centeno, has been kidnapped from his home by people with DPI [Police Investigation Directorate] vests, and taken to an unknown destination.”
Then Democracy Now reported: “In Honduras, four Garífuna land defenders were kidnapped over the weekend in the northern coastal town of Triunfo de la Cruz.”
That article explains: “Snider Centeno, Milton Martínez, Suany Álvarez and a fourth unidentified Garífuna leader were all taken from their homes by heavily armed men in what local leaders say is the latest attack against the community by the government of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, as Afro-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples continue to fight against mining and other extractive industries on sacred land.”
The InterReligious Task Force on Central America (IRTF) has noted: “For generations, the Afro-Honduran Garífuna community has resided along the northern coast of Honduras and in La Mosquitia in the east. Many of the core Garífuna religious and cultural practices are inextricably linked to the land, including their collective claim to certain territories.”
“However, because the Garífuna live on a prime section of coastal territory, the growth of the tourism industry threatens their way of life and encroaches on what they regard as their ancestral lands.”
For example, there have been reports about plans to develop ancestral Garifuna lands by Canadian investors Patrick Daniel Forseth (Carivida Villas) and Randy Jorgensen (Life Vision Developments) that have been opposed by OFRANEH.
The IRTF has further noted: “In October 2015, the Garífuna community of El Triunfo de la Cruz, together with the community of Punta Piedra, obtained a favorable ruling on territorial rights issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIHD).”
“The decision ordered the State of Honduras to carry out reparations in favor of the communities, including actions to return land that is already being occupied by others. To date, the State has ignored the international court ruling. Instead, the government has continued to harass, persecute, and murder members of the Garífuna communities.”
Notably, La Tribuna reports: “Sneider Centeno played an active leadership role during the process and subsequent implementation of the 2015 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling in favor of the Garifuna Triunfo de la Cruz community.”
That article adds: “The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras (OHCHR) condemns the forced disappearance” of the four defenders.
Photo: Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, the general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), holds a sign that says: “We demand the appearance of our colleagues alive. #GarifunaLivesMatter”