216 years after Satuye’s death – Garífuna expulsions continue

The following excerpts are taken from a communication from OFRANEH, the Honduran Black Fraternity Organisation, La Ceiba, 15 March 2011

On 14th March, 1795, on San Vincent Island, the hero of the Garífuna village Joseph Satuye died fighting against the British. Satuye waged two wars against British imperialism to defend the last bastion of Kalinagu people in the Caribbean.

The death of Satuye did not bring the fight to an end, and our ancestors continued fighting, … Eventually, we were confined to the Island of Baliceaux, where most of the captives died due to the cruel conditions of the captivity. Later our people were deported to Roatán Island in the Gulf of Honduras. Honduras’ independence brought changes and our people spread along the Central American Caribbean coast.

The arrival of the banana companies in Honduras began a process of de-territorialisation, which has intensified since the 1990s due to the growing speculation of real estate around mega-tourism projects. Although the sale of land to foreigners within the perimeters of community land titles was prohibited, in the last few decades there have been systematic sales of land.

For the Garífuna people, territory and culture are essential elements of our view of the world. The process of acculturation mixed with a false vision of development, however, has served as a pretext to assimilate us, to take our territory and to bring us into ‘modernity’.

The Garífuna neighbourhoods of Cristales and Rio Negro in Trujillo have historically been bastions of our people. The conversion of Rio Negro into the empire of a porn king (Canadian Randy Jurgensen) is another of the actions taken to expel the Garífunas from Honduras or to convert us into docile African descendents. Last Saturday, President Pepe Lobo accompanied the Porn King to the opening of the construction of the post-panamax cruise ship jetty. Mr. Lobo was presented with an environmental license for the jetty. However, studies had not been done on the bathymetry of the Bay of Trujillo and so sediment will have to be dredged from the bottom of the bay to make the jetty functional …

… the heirs of a nationalist ideology handed over the Bay of Trujillo to the Porn King. Meanwhile, the Garífuna communities continue to lose the small territory that was granted to them by the National Agrarian Institute (INA).

In 2009, the community of Guadalupe filed a complaint before the prosecutor for Ethnic Groups, about the encroachments and illegal sales by front men on behalf of the Porn King. As usual, these complaints were buried in oblivion and of course, the exhaustion of internal legal resources is a maze at the service of sheltered satraps who masquerade under the title of entrepreneurs.

Our people today once again reflect the death of Satuye and his glorious and heroic deeds against British imperialism; while still we contemplate the territory that we had in Honduras for 214 years. It has been converted into a piñata with the complicity of the authorities, including the consent and silence of those African descendants who are rich from the crumbs of the banquet of power.