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May 21, 2014

Human and Land Rights Violation Against the Garifuna People in Honduras

Letter from the Garifuna Nation to members of the U.S. Congress concerning repression, human and land rights violations and impunity by military-backed government in Honduras

To: Honorable Janice Schakowsky and Members of Congress

The Garifuna Nation which is comprised of about thirty Garifuna organizations from the countries of; "Yurumein" Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, the United States of America and is committed to represent the interest of our people which approximately is about 600,000 worldwide. This includes about 300,000 people who currently reside in the United States and are in the states of; New York, California, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Massachusetts, Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey and other states.

We hereby applaud and support the bold stand that is being taken by Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky from the 9th Congressional District in the State of Illinois and her colleagues in Congress, to draft a Resolution highlighting the Human Rights and Land Abuses that is being committed against the Garifuna people and other groups by the President of Honduras Orlando Hernandez and his government. This Resolution will be sent to the US Secretary of State John Kerry to examine the state of affairs in Honduras and to re-examine the current US relations with this country.

Our organization intend to not only support the efforts of Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky and her congressional colleagues but also stand ready, willing and able to provide them with whatever additional evidence and testimonies that they may need to prove this compelling case against the Government of Honduras.

The on-going Human Rights and land infringement cases against the Garifuna people over the years has been documented by several reputable international, regional and local organizations such as; the United Nations, Organization of American States, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and all the Garifuna organizations in the country of Honduras and in the Garifuna diaspora.

We are impressed with the transcript that is being contained in the Congresswoman's list of Human Rights and land violations that has been occurring against our people in the last six years since the overthrow of the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. We also would like to add that Human Rights Abuses against the Garifuna people has been taking place in Honduras since we first arrived in this country on April the 12th, 1797. These abuses have led to the mass migration of our people to the neighboring countries of; Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, the United States and elsewhere where they continue to reside up to this day.

Every Garifuna person in the diaspora can trace their origins to the country of Honduras. Despite the fact that the Rights of Citizens is clearly spelled out in the Honduran Constitution, the Governments of Honduras over the years has ignored it completely. Especially, when there is a "Military Coup" where "Decrees" are passed by the "Military Juntas" to eliminate any provision in the Constitution they do not agree with. It is a paradox for one to comprehend that a government that breaks the law continue to ask their citizens to obey them.

We are grateful for this action taken by the Congresswoman and the members of the US Congress and we hope and pray that this will lead to significant changes and the decreasing of tensions in Honduras. The situation in Honduras today is explosive and could lead to further tensions if Congress does not intervene on our people's behalf. We are organizing and communicating with our people on a daily basis and if you need us feel free to call us immediately. We will be awaiting your response to this correspondence.

We appeal to our Garifuna people to call and thank this Congresswoman at: (773) 506-7100 or (202) 225-211 and their Congress person at; (202) 224-3124 to state their support for this Resolution and ask them to support the Congresswoman with this action.

The Congress of the United States started the engine it is now our responsibility to keep it running.

Respectfully Submitted,

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HONDURAS TODAY
In Honduras today our Garifuna people are being dispossessed of their ancestral lands occupied since 217 years ago, so far governments have not been concerned about bringing development to our communities and we the Garifuna children with the help of our relatives who reside in the United States have made our own efforts to maintain the growth of our communities in this fast paced society.

The geographical location of our Garifuna communities, all settled on the Atlantic Coast of Honduras, has made us the helpless target of tourism investment, which has not taken into account our need for subsistence or our position as landowners. The Investors have systematically colluded with the government of Honduras to strip us of our ancestral lands and we quote the case of Roatan in the Bay Islands; Triunfo de la Cruz, San Juan and Tornabé in Tela, Atlantida; Comunidad Cristales and Rio Negro in Trujillo, Colón; and Punta Piedra, Colón as clear examples of dispossession of our ancestral lands.

This year 2014 our ancestral Garifuna name which has existed way before Christopher Columbus arrived in this continent and identify us as a culturally distinct community has disappeared from textbooks in Honduras. Our ancestral name "GARIFUNA" has been replaced with "Afro-Honduran and Afro Descendants" supported by Legislative Decree No. 3330-2002 and Executive Decree No. 09-2007.

Our Garifuna Communities in Cristales and Rio Negro have been stripped of their documents as legal entities which serve to protect the lands belonging to our communities, and is being delivered piecemeal to foreign capital for the construction of a Cruise Ship Pier and the Special development Zone initially called Model (Charter) Cities (project coined by Paul Romer, renowned American economist).

The problem mentioned above only represent a small part of the serious problems facing the 52 Garifuna communities settled in Honduras and in the other countries where we reside today. We request that your good offices investigate and search for immediate solutions to prevent the disappearance of a living culture and possible Genocides that have been committed against our people over the years and continue to exist up to this day in our Garifuna communities worldwide.

We thank you for your delicate attention to this matter and wait for answers.

Respectfully Submitted,

Wellington C. Ramos
wramos451@hotmail.com
Director of Governmental Affairs
Garifuna Nation

cc . Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki -Moon
cci . Secretary General of the Organization of American States Jose Miguel Insulza
ccii . CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque Lord
cciii . General Secretary Guy Ryder ILO
cciv . Media
ccv . Human rights organizations around the world
ccv. International Commission On Human Rights (ICHR) United Nations

AFFILIATED ORGANIZATIONS
Organizacion Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH), United Garifuna Association Inc. Brooklyn, NY, Garifuna Hope Foundation Inc. Los Angeles, CA. Hondureños Contra el SIDA Bronx NY. , Improving Minds Inc. Chicago Illinois, All people's Foundation Inc. Chicago, Illinois, The Chotoyer Project Inc. Los Angeles, CA, Yurumein Garifuna Cultural Retrieval (YUGACURE) Queens, NY, Organizacion Negra Guatemala (ONEGUA), Asociacion Union Corozaleña (ASUNCOR), Garifuna Settlement Day Cultural Mass (GSDCM), Garinagu Lun Awanserui Chicago Illinois, Garifuna Veterans Of America, New York, Coalición Social Garifuna Hondureños En Texas Inc. (Cosogahet), Grupo Folklor Garifuna Wafagua, New York, Sociedad Hondureña Activa de New York, OPUSA (Organizaciones Patronales USA), Sociedad Hondureña activa de NY Trujillo, Sociedad Hondureña activa de NY, San Juan, Sociedad Hondureña Activa de NY La Ceiba, Mujeres Hondureñas Organizadas en New York MHONY Inc. Garifuna United Association, Virginia. Organizacion Cristales de Honduras. Garifunatv Page Bronx NY, Garifuna Council of Churches, New York. Gemelos de Honduras.

Jorge Castillo, Rubén Reyes, Mirta A. Castillo, Sandra Colon, Wellington Ramos, Joseph Guerrero, Carla García

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Honduras - Murder Capital of the World

Americans / Canadians:
Keep on sending copies of this information, and your own letters, to your politicians (MPs, Congress members and Senators). Since the June 2009 military coup, that ousted the last democratically elected government, Honduras has become the 'Murder Capital of the world'. Repression has reached the levels of the worst years of the 1980s. Since 2009, the U.S. and Canadian governments have legitimized a succession of illegitimate and repressive regimes. North American companies and investors, and "development" banks (World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank) have increased business activities in African palm production, maquiladora sweatshops, privatized "model cities", tourism and mining. The Honduran regime remains in power due in large part to its political, economic and military relations with the U.S. and Canada and the "development" banks. Across Honduras, community based organizations in the pro-democracy movement need considerably more human rights accompaniment, funding, media attention on the harms and violations and education and activism in Canada and the U.S.

Contact:
* Find your Member Of Parliament by Postal Code

* Congress: http://www.house.gov/ to get info for your member of Congress, and call: 202-224-3121

* Senate: http://www.senate.gov/ to get contact for your Senator, and call: 202-224-3121

Tax-Deductible Donations (Canada & U.S.)

To support civil society groups in Honduras working for a return to democracy, respect for human rights and justice, make check payable to "Rights Action" and mail to:
* United States: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
* Canada: (Box 552) 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
Credit-Card Donations (Canada & U.S.): http://www.rightsaction.org/tax-deductible-donations

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