From Rights Action, The Violence of Development website has received the information below about death threats to Alfredo Lopez, a leader of the Garifuna community in Triunfo de la Cruz, northern Honduras. These are extremely serious. It was from Triunfo de la Cruz that the four young Garifuna leaders were disappeared over two years ago, and they have never been found since and their disappearance has never been seriously investigated by the Honduran police.
Alfredo was interviewed in 2010 by The Violence of Development website in the radio station, Faluma Bimetu, not long after it had been burned down by opponents of Indigenous rights who were also part of the gangsterism of the Honduran government from 2009 until the Honduran election last November (2021). His 2010 interview appears in this website at: https://theviolenceofdevelopment.com/alfredo-lopez/
Rights Action has translated the Criterio article about the death threats to Alfredo and their introduction and the translation are given below.
In the 1990s, Alfredo spent over 6 years as a political prisoner in Honduran jails for his work and activism in defence of Garifuna land and human rights, threatened by corrupt, violent for-export African palm producers and international tourism operators.
Today, he is still defending Garifuna land and rights, still at great risk.
“The origin of the problems that the Garífuna people face in Honduras lies in the government’s disrespect for their communal territory and the State’s failure to comply with the Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra rulings. This has allowed third parties to appropriate the lands.”
This last incident in which López Álvarez was threatened is a clear example of the lack of action on the part of the Honduran State.”
Garifuna Leader Faces Death Threats if he Does Not Leave Triunfo de la Cruz Community
By Marcia Perdomo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tegucigalpa – The Honduran Black Fraternal Organisation (Ofraneh) denounced the death threat against the representative of the Triunfo de la Cruz Land Defense Committee, Alfredo López Álvarez, if he does not leave the community and cease the struggle for the restitution of the rights of the Garífuna people.
The statement was made during the session ‘Non-compliance with the judgments of the IACHR Court: the Garífuna case of Honduras’ during the second day of the Central America Donors Forum 2022 (CADF) held in Tegucigalpa, capital of Honduras.
Criterio.hn spoke with López Álvarez, who pointed out that things are going from bad to worse, because previously threats were not made directly. They even established a deadline of 24 hours for him to leave the community because the third parties of Playa Escondida believe that the community does not deserve to be there.
“I don’t owe anything to anyone, nor do I live off anyone, I am very independent. I don’t have to leave my house,” he affirmed.
López Álvarez won a case against the State of Honduras before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in February 2006 after his right to personal liberty, right to personal integrity and right to judicial guarantees and judicial protection were violated, following an arbitrary illegal detention, which ended up resulting in his imprisonment in a detention centre for 6 years and 4 months.
The vulnerability of the Garífuna people
The origin of the problems that the Garífuna people face in Honduras lies in the government’s disrespect for their communal territory and the State’s failure to comply with the Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra rulings. This has allowed third parties to appropriate the lands.
This last incident in which López Álvarez was threatened is a clear example of the lack of action on the part of the Honduran State.
[Álvarez] shared that the origin of the threat comes from the fact that the community opened a cemetery, after the previous cemetery had reached capacity. The new cemetery is within the ancestral territory of the community of Triunfo de la Cruz, Tela, in the Honduran Caribbean, but was seized by the residents of Playa Escondida.
“Playa Escondida is where all the invading politicians live, who have houses to go for walks and vacations,” and even Colombians, who believe they own the community, said López Álvarez.
The state of Honduras must urgently intervene
According to Edy Tábora, lawyer of the Bufete Justicia para los Pueblos and representative of Ofraneh, the State of Honduras has a responsibility to intervene to restore the territory to the Garífuna community, especially because this land has been taken by people with a lot of power in Honduras and abroad, with the objective of implementing hydroelectric, mining, and mega-tourist projects.
This lack of government action is costing the lives of Garífunas who have been murdered for demanding land restitution and land titling, not only in Triunfo de la Cruz in Tela, Atlántida, and Punta Piedra in Iriona, Colón, but also in the rest of the communities along the Honduran Caribbean coast.
Tábora remarked that the State has the obligation to clean up the territory and prevent further acts of violence against the Garífuna people. One of the concrete acts that the State can carry out is to put a stop to the criminalization of the Garífuna.
In addition, he said that the State must guarantee their safety and prevent the repetition of regrettable events such as the forced disappearance of the four Garifuna of Triunfo de la Cruz, and actions such as those denounced by Alfredo Lopez, who took the State to the Inter-American Court, won the case and now receives threats to leave his community in 24 hours.
“This is an urgent, serious situation and the State must react immediately,” concluded the legal professional