Fighting for the Garifuna, in Honduras and the US
On July 11 and 12, members of our partner the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) visited us in Boston to discuss their work, and their cosmovisions underpinning it, amid converging crises.
A dozen Grassroots International staff circled up with nearly a dozen OFRANEH organizers nearby Grassroots’ office in Stony Brook Park. Among them was the globally recognized movement leader Miriam Miranda.
“As an organization, we are at our limit,” Miriam told us as we gathered. The Afro-Indigenous Garifuna communities that OFRANEH organizes are facing increasing threats — not only from state and paramilitary violence, but from migration that has frayed community ties.
The delegation to the US is part of OFRANEH’s campaign to investigate the July 2020 forced disappearances of four Garifuna community leaders. As we reported at the time, a group of heavily armed men entered Triunfo de la Cruz and abducted Alberth Sneider Centeno, Milton Joel Martínez Álvarez, Suami Aparicio Mejía García and Gerardo Mizael Róchez Cálix. Since then, and the additional disappearance of Junior Rafael Juárez Mejía, the community has heard no news of any kind about these disappearances.
The movement’s Committee for the Search and Investigation of the Disappeared from Triunfo de La Cruz (known as “SUNLA” or “Enough” in Garifuna) seeks justice, answers, and these community leaders’ safe return by pressuring both the Honduran government and the international community.
HOLDING TOGETHER THE GARIFUNA COSMOVISION
The OFRANEH organizers not only discussed the context and their struggle for justice in Honduras. They also shared news of a new project with us — organizing with the Garifuna community in the US.
There are more than 200,000 Garifuna in the US, a result of successive waves of migration. While many people have fallen victim to violence on the trail between Honduras and the US, those who make it across the border are at further risk of poverty, racialized violence, and isolation.
“We are facing losing connections [with the migrant youth],” Rony, one OFRANEH delegation member, told us.
“We’ve seen that the Garifuna people there in the US over time absorb that way of life, which is more individualistic and competitive, and this clashes with the vision of the Garifuna people — with what it means to be Garifuna,” Miriam added later.
The movement is therefore exploring how to organize in the U.S. to rebuild those fraying connections, and thus strengthen the community back in Honduras.
SUNLA connects to organizing the Garifuna immigrant community as well. Migration is not driven by “searching for a better life,” but by violence and oppression. One OFRANEH delegate described to us how soon after the military came with tanks and nabbed a community leader, the youth in the community left their homes to head north.
As our OFRANEH comrades stressed, “This work is important for us because it’s extremely important to keep strengthening the collective community vision of the Garifuna people, and through this, to contribute to our struggle in Honduras.”
Join us in supporting OFRANEH’s campaign for justice. Take action with the Honduras Solidarity Network and send a letter to the Honduras government.