June 05, 2024

Congresswoman Bush, Colleagues Reintroduce Resolution to Affirm Rights of Honduras’ Garífuna People

The Afro-Indigenous Garífuna people continue to face violent human rights abuses by the Honduran government and complicit multilateral institutions 

Washington, D.C. (June 5, 2024) — Representatives Cori Bush (MO-01), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Jesus “Chuy” García (IL-04), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and Jamaal Bowman Ed.D. (NY-16) reintroduced a resolution that affirms the rights of the Afro-Indigenous Garífuna people in Honduras.  

“I am proud to reintroduce this resolution in solidarity with the Afro-Indigenous Garífuna community in Honduras, alongside Representatives Bowman, García, Omar, and Schakowsky”, said Congresswoman Bush. “Since we first introduced the resolution, the Garífuna people have continued to face systematic violations of their human rights. We have an obligation to put an end to this violence and oppression, advance policies that promote human rights, and speak up for Black and Indigenous communities in the United States and across the world. My colleagues and I proudly reintroduce this resolution to condemn systemic violence against the Garífuna people and ensure that the Honduran government and other complicit international institutions are held accountable.”

For years, Garífuna community members and leaders have been threatened, arrested, abducted and murdered. Most notably, in July 2020, four Garífuna men were abducted at gunpoint by men wearing uniforms bearing the logo of a Honduran security forces unit. Instead of calling for an investigation into those responsible, the Honduran Attorney General has called for criminal proceedings against leaders of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH).

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have determined that the Garífuna community’s rights have repeatedly been violated by the Honduran government, yet little has changed regarding their treatment. This resolution condemns the violence toward the Garífuna people while calling for accountability from the Honduran government and other international institutions for their role in these abuses. 

A copy of the resolution can be found HERE. A copy of the one-pager can be found HERE.

“When I visited the Garifuna territory in Honduras, I was disturbed to learn about how our country’s policies and business practices are worsening conditions for Indigenous communities in Latin America,” said Congressman Bowman Ed.D. “Corporations and US-funded governments are degrading their environment, displacing Garifuna communities, and stoking violence. This is exploitation at the hands of Afro-Indigenous communities, and it must stop. The United States has an obligation to right these wrongs and support the human rights of the Garifuna people, which is why I am proud to join this resolution.”

“The Garífuna people have long endured human rights abuses, forced disappearances, and violations of their centuries-old land rights. They continue to be the targets of political violence, organized crime, and international corporations trying to take over their ancestral lands for tourism and resource extraction purposes.” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García. “This resolution calls for the U.S. to partner with international organizations and global allies to condemn this violence and affirm the rights of the Garífuna people.”

“When I traveled to Honduras, I saw firsthand the impact corporate interests and foreign governments have played in destabilizing the region. The indigenous Garífuna community in particular has experienced significant violence, land appropriation, and human rights abuses. Given our own history in the region, the United States must take an active role in ensuring that the rights of the Garifuna are protected—and support full accountability for past human rights abuses,” said Congresswoman Omar.

“The Garífuna people have lived in what is now known as Honduras since the 1600s and have since endured human rights abuses, displacement, and violence. Over the years, Garífuna community leaders have been threatened, arrested, abducted, and even murdered. These abhorrent abuses cannot be tolerated,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Today, threats against their land and people persist. I am proud to co-lead this resolution that not only calls for the implementation of the 2015 Inter-American Court judgment restoring land rights to Garífuna communities, but also calls on the Biden Administration to engage with the Honduran government to safeguard the Garífuna people, their land, and their culture.”

Members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) and Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective traveled to Washington this week for the reintroduction of the resolution. These grassroots organizations and their allies are working to protect the Garífuna people’s land rights and secure justice and accountability for the human rights violations they have faced. 

The lawmakers first introduced the resolution in December 2022, following a congressional delegation visit to Honduras in March 2021, working alongside partner organizations and members of the Garífuna community.

Endorsing organizations for the resolution include: Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective (WfPSC), Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras (OFRANEH), Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN), Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) – Global Economy Program, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN), The Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA), Environmental Justice and Infrastructure Initiative, InterReligious Task Force On Central America (IRTF), Latin America Working Group (LAWG), Cross Border Network for Justice and Solidarity, Portland Central American Solidarity Committee, Rights Action, SHARE Foundation, School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA), Denver Justice and Peace Committee, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Pax Christi-Phoenix, Root Causes Initiative, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), Stanford Central American Student Association, Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law, Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights at University of Cincinnati College of Law, Nicaragua Center for Community Action, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team, Fr. Bill O’Donnell Social Justice Committee, Colectivo Voces Ecologicas COVEC, Midnight Books, Peace Circle Salisbury, and Alliance for Global Justice.

“Concerned about this alarming situation that threatens the future survival of the Garífuna people, we have called for solidarity to the world, allied organizations, individuals, and institutions. Specifically, to the people of the United States, who have expressed their solidarity and their support through letters to government officials, visits to our territory, and, today through a great act of solidarity and advocacy, a significant number of members of Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives, are preparing to circulate, present and discuss a Resolution to take urgent action on the difficult situation where the Garífuna people currently live,” said Miriam Miranda, General Coordinator of OFRANEH.

“IPS was proud to award OFRANEH with the Letelier-Moffitt International Human Rights Award in 2021, as part of efforts to bring necessary attention and support to their crucial struggle for land, self-determination and justice, especially given dire threats against the Garífuna people’s survival. This resolution is essential to continue building pressure against persistent threats, including from US firms such as Próspera that have brought arbitration against Honduras to a World Bank tribunal for the outrageous amount of nearly $11 billion dollars to try to impose their interests in territories directly affecting OFRANEH,” said Jenn Moore, Associate Fellow - Global Economy at the Institute of Policy Studies.

“Honduran authorities, as well as respective international financial institutions and U.S. agencies, must work to ensure compliance with the 2015 InterAmerican court rulings outlined in this important resolution. The recent formation of the Intersectoral Commission with participation from the Honduran government and OFRANEH is just the beginning of a long road of work to restore and guarantee Garifuna land rights in Honduras,” said Karen Spring, Co-coordinator, Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN).

“The recent threats and intimidation faced by Garifuna land defenders in Triunfo de la Cruz showcase the urgent need for the compliance of the 2015 Inter-American Court rulings. Likewise, it displays the great need to hold US-led international financial institutions & multilateral banks responsible for their complicity in the violation of Garifuna land rights, which continue to affect communities today. This resolution is an important tool to put pressure on all the actors involved in the human rights violations and dispossession of the Garifuna people, including the Honduran government, the US government, and international financial institutions,” said Jalileh Garcia, Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective.