The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) denounces 30×30 initiative as “fortress conservation”

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: “Military out of Chachauate”. Cayo Chachahuate is the most popular beach on the Cayos Cochinos islands.

The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), a grassroots organization that works with Afro-descendant and Indigenous Garifuna communities, has denounced the 30×30 initiative that will be discussed at the United Nations COP15 biodiversity summit starting tomorrow (Wednesday December 7) in Montreal.

In short, the 30×30 initiative, which is backed by Canada, calls on governments to designate 30% of Earth’s land and ocean area as protected areas by 2030.

On November 26, OFRANEH tweeted: “30×30 will be taken to COP15 by conservation multinationals intensifying pressure on the territory of indigenous peoples. Honduras for 30 years has militarized the Cayos Cochinos and the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, resulting in multiple human rights violations.”

Earlier in the year they also tweeted: “The #30×30 without real recognition of the right to prior, free and informed consultation, supposed conservation becomes dispossession and violations of human rights, as has happened in the case of Cayos Cochinos, where since 1993 the expulsion of Garífunas has been promoted.”

Cayos Cochinos

OFRANEH has previously explained: “Cayos Cochinos was a fortress conservation experiment at the beginning of the 1990s promoted by [the Smithsonian Institute] and the Swiss ‘entrepreneur’ Stephan Schmidheiny, who tried to relocate the Garífuna population #30×30 #FortressConservation.”

The Cayos Cochinos or Cochinos Cays consist of two small islands (Cayo Menor and Cayo Grande) and 13 smaller coral cays situated 30 kilometres northeast of La Ceiba on the northern shores of Honduras.

A “cay” is a small, low-elevation, sandy island on the surface of a coral reef.

In 1994, the Cayos Cochinos were declared a Marine Protected Area and are managed by the Honduras Coral Reef Foundation.

Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge

The Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge was designed a protected area in 1986. It is located 30 kilometres west of La Ceiba, within the municipalities of El Porvenir, San Francisco and La Masica. It is located in the area between the Cuero and the Salado Rivers, hence the name of the reserve.

OFRANEH warns of “territorial dispossession” via 30×30

Less than two weeks ago, OFRANEH also tweeted: “Indigenous peoples of the planet are threatened by a resurgence of territorial dispossession before approval #30×30 in the next #COP15 finding the right to food in danger more than ever. Garífuna Community of Cayos Cohinos rejects new Management Plan.”

Additional background

In 2014, journalist Sandra Cuffe wrote:

“Much has changed in the 20 years since the Cayos Cochinos were declared a protected area. The Afro-indigenous Garifuna communities inhabiting the cays had to fight plans for their eviction, which would have enabled the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to create an exclusion zone for scientific study. Today, reality-show production and tourism are facilitated by the Honduras Coral Reef Fund, which manages the area with support from the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy. Even with the onslaught of tourism and film crews, Garifuna subsistence fishermen and divers remain subject to ever-changing fishing restrictions enforced by the Honduras Coral Reef Fund and by the Navy.”

In an article titled The Survivors of Cayos Cochinos, the digital newspaper El Faro reports: “In a Caribbean paradise along the Honduran coast, the Garifuna people are defending their right to survival on ancestral territory from business conglomerates, the Army, and a European reality show seeking to profit from the natural beauty of the Cayos Cochinos archipelago.”

And in February of this year, Radio Progreso reported that OFRANEH Leader Nahúm Lalín denounced that 50% of the islets of Cayos Cochinos are in the hands of businessmen.

Lalin says: “We are concerned as Garífuna communities in the area and as Ofraneh because food security is being violated, the right to fish because foreigners are appropriating our territories, they are being favored with the complicity of the Cayos Cochinos Foundation, which was created to protect the keys.”

OFRANEH warns Iriona and Limón could be next recently commented: “[OFRANEH] has denounced these types of [conservation/protection] proposals, especially this year when Iriona and Limón, located in the marine area of the municipalities of the same name, in the department of Colón, were declared an important site for wildlife with an area of more than 145 thousand hectares.”

That article adds: “On the subject, they stated: ‘The project in question [Iriona y Limón] is part of the 30X30, which is becoming one of the greatest threats to the indigenous peoples of the planet.’”

COP15, a militarized summit

The Guardian reports: “The RCMP, tasked with providing security for foreign dignitaries and senior officials, said the operation in Montreal would be the biggest in 20 years.”

“Sections of downtown Montreal have been cordoned off, including around the Palais des congrès, where the event will be held. The bustling Place-d’Armes metro station will be closed for 20 days.”

That article adds: “Within the Palais des congrès, the United Nations will oversee security. The Sûreté du Québec, the province’s police force, as well as Montreal, Longueuil, Laval, Quebec City and Gatineau police will handle crowds and expected protests.”

The article also quotes Édouard, a student organiser with the Anti-capitalist and ecologist coalition against Cop15, who says: “As with previous international summits, we know that the police can be very brutal against people voicing their discontent. So sadly we anticipate police repression.”

PBI-Canada will be present in Montreal when the Coalition expects a march of more than 10,000 in opposition to COP15.

Further reading

“30×30 could turn into one of the biggest corporate land grabs ever” – COP15 negotiator (December 2, 2022)

Ahead of COP15 in Montreal, Innu communities in Quebec say logging on ancestral lands threatens their cultural identity (November 30, 2022)

COP15 biodiversity summit to be fenced off amid concerns its 30×30 initiative promotes militarized conservationism (November 26, 2022)

COP15: Informal talks in Montreal amid Indigenous concerns about the 30×30 initiative and militarized conservation (September 28, 2022)

Global Biodiversity Framework to be discussed in Montreal amid concerns about Afro-Colombian ancestral rights and title (August 26, 2022)

Black Hawk helicopters, militarized conservation in Colombia and the “30×30” initiative (June 4, 2022)

Canada backs 30 x 30 despite concerns of conservation by dispossession and the militarization of conservation (November 7, 2021)

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