Saturday, April 2, 2011

March of the Drums: There is nothing to celebrate

The following statement was released during a mass march of black and indigenous peoples in Tegucigalpa on April 1st, 2011 commemorating 214 years since the arrival of the Garífuna people in Honduras.

March of the Drums: Position of the organizations that make up the 2-14 Alliance


In the glorious Month of African Heritage we commemorate one more year in which this land was blessed. Blessed because more than two centuries ago the African plant set foot on it bringing with it the richness that decorates it today.

Today after 214 años, our own drums, symbols of resistance, powerful arms of struggle, urgently call us to deeply reflect on our historical reality.

In the midst of the commemoration of the Month of African Heritage in Honduras, we want to emphasize the term commemoration. We commemorate, we do not celebrate. Because we cannot celebrate the infamous inhumane and genocidal exile that our ancesters suffered from San Vicente, a flagrant violation of the most elemental human rights that even today the aggressor powers refuse to repair.

To celebrate would be an affront to the memory of our ancestors, mutilated brutally in the crossing from Africa to St. Vincent, from St. Vincent to Balliceu and from Balliceu to Port Royal, Honduras. The memory of the more than 3,000 Garífuna brothers martyred in Balliceu, plus those who gave their lives in the battle for dignity against the English army and the millions who were murdered in the crossing from Africa plunging into the depths of the ocean invite us to reflect about this term. Let us remember today that occasion that left an un-erasable impression on the historic destiny of our people.

Today as we did also 214 years ago we have had to once again embark on the crossing not of the Caribbean sea but of the battered paths and roads of fifth class that lead to and from our communities throughout our Honduras, from Plaplaya in the department of Gracias a Dios and Masca in the department of Cortes, we have come early in the morning to find ourselves here in Tegucigalpa the capital of the country, here where they decide our future and our destiny, in most cases without taking us into account, without consulting us, or believing that with one telephone call or one text message sent from the private telephones of mercenaries, infamous traffickers of the ignorance and misery of our people, this action is more than sufficient to decide if we continue living or die.

Because of this all of the organizations and sectors that make up the 2-14 Alliance and to the sound of the ringing of the drums, the maracas and the Garífuna conch say with one voice... de los tambores, las maracas y el caracol garífuna planteamos y decimos a una sola voz…There is nothing to celebrate...

There is nothing to celebrate..

Because the spirit of our ancesters orders us today to reorient the steering of the destiny of our people, to re-take the true leadership of Satuyé and Barauda. A leadership able to differentiate talk from practice, inescapably linked to the people, for the people and by the people. And not the remote control pseudo-leadership exercised from the comfort of the big cities, completely disconnected from the daily reality of a community that is bleeding and agonizing through the systematic loss of its ancestral richness.

There is nothing to celebrate

Because Satuyé and Barauda left us an orphan leadership of small-minded interests and personal ambitions, crustacean culture perpetuated by a sys

tem that divides us with crumbs and then with shameless audacity demands of us and calls us to unity. Today our people is victim of pseudo-leadership imported from western models, converted into instruments of destruction, division, effervescence of small conflicts, directed at weakening the harmony, the peace and the co-existence of solidarity inherited from Satuyé, Barauda and Wamulugu.

There is nothing to celebrate

If our Garífuna people is victim to torture. We cite the recent brutal and repressive breaking up of the peaceful march at the community Triunfo de la Cruz, when our sister Miriam Miranda, president of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras was captured, tortured and illegally jailed, as a result of a state policy of racial intolerance that replaces dialogue with the baton and the tear-gas bomb.

There is nothing to celebrate

When our beaches after the death of coconut are devoured by coastal erosion and there is no concrete strategy for mitigation and adaption to climate change, leaving our communities in absolute vulnerability.

There is nothing to celebrate

Because due to the stubbornness of the current regime in maintaining a model as exclusive as the neoliberal one, more than 200,000 brothers and sisters have had to emigrate from our communities risking their lives to go in search of an uncertain destiny, leaving behind parents, children, grand-children and other loved ones, when our youth find themselves forced to emigrate due to the absence of opportunities and the blackmail that says if we don't give up out territory it is because we are opposed to "development."

There is nothing to celebrate.

Because even though the United Nations has declared the language, the music and the dance of the Garífuna people as a Oral Master Work and Intangible Asset of Humanity on May 18, 2011 and declared 2011 as the International Year of the Afrodescendants the State has not made any effort to support the strengthening of our culture which it instead commercializes and labels as national folklore at the same time that it promotes cultural homogenization through the media dictatorship taking place in Honduras.

There is nothing to celebrate.

Because the attacks and threats against community media violate the right to free expression and thought and the right that our people have to create their own alternative media as is established in Covenant 169 of the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Declaration about Indigenous Peoples.

There is nothing to celebrate.

Because the the government is working to make its racist policies prevail by denying the incorporation into the country's health services network of the First People's Garífuna Hospital, a monument that dignifies the struggle for survival of our people that ancestrally has suffered abandon, invisibility and exclusion, this center which is the first of its kind in 214 years of Garífuna presence in Honduras, even though it provides free service to the historically forgotten population, flagrantly violating what is established in ILO Convention 169 in Articles 24 and 25.

There is nothing to celebrate.

Because after 214 years of submission to a colonial education system from which ignorant functionaries graduate, people who cut themselves down carrying the cross of self-denial, who with more education feel ashamed of speaking their own language, of their cuisine and their philosophical and theological worldview. After 17 since the creation of the Intercultural Bilingual Education program we have as a result the most alarming loss of the language in our modern history, but the Secretary of Education and the cooperating authorities who financially sustain this program and reflect in their reports the utopic vision that this program is a complete success.

Our statistics reflect that in the closest communities to the cities 8 or 9 of every ten Garífuna children don't understand nor speak the language, leaving clearly demonstrated that the
underlying purpose of these programs isn't the rescue, preservation nor revitalization of the language but the domestication of our peoples, creating in its citizens cowardly and servile conduct. It is opportune to emphatically pronounce or condemnation of the practice assumed by the current government that has as its end the replacement of Garífuna-speaking teachers with non-Garífuna teachers, political activists and career opportunists. For this reason the strengthening of the National Council of Garífuna Education (CONEGAH) and the creation of the first Intercultural Garífuna University (UGI) is imperative.

There is nothing to celebrate.

Because only in Valle de Sula, the most rich zone of the country which produces 60% of the Gross Domestic Product of Honduras, there are more than 50,000 Afro-descendant inhabitants, where they are a fundamental pillar for the creation of that richness, but that contribution is not proportionately reflected in the investment of capital in the black communities of that region.

There is nothing to celebrate.

When the conversion of the Garífuna community of Rio Negro into "Banana Coast" is the prelude to the expulsion of the Garífuna from Bahía de Trujillo, a process which they seek to replicate in the whole coast in the name of uncertain tourism, a pillar of an economy of dependence, as the agro-export model liquidates food security.

There is nothing to celebrate.

Because we unite the voices of the Organizations that today condemn the celebration of a World Summit of Afro-descendants that legitimizes a regime that represses the black communities as it showed the morning of this past Monday March 28th in the community of Triunfo de Cruz, Tela, Atlántida.

There is nothing to celebrate.

Because narco-trafficking is a problem that threatens the country.

The Garífunas present in this march of the 214 drums

We manifest our solidarity with the indigenous and misquito peoples of Honduras who are being the object of repression, militarization and pillaging of their natural resources by the oligarchy and the transnationals, in the same way we manifest our categorical support for the call for the self-demarcation of their territory.

Our solidarity is also with the Honduran teachers in the struggle for the defense of public education and the defense of the Teacher's Statute.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras April 1st, 2011

Alianza 2-14 made up of :

Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras (OFRANEH),

Centro de la Cultura Garínagu de Honduras (CENCULGARH)

Comité Cívico del Gran Valle de Sula

Fundación Luagu Hatuadi Waduheñu,

Fundación Mujeres Garífunas en Marcha

Gemelos de Honduras

Delegación Musical «Black Men Soul»

Asociación de Afrodescendientes del Valle de Sula (ASAFROVA)

Enlaces de Mujeres Negras de Honduras (ENMUNEH)

Asociación Hondureña de Mujeres Negras (ASOHMUN)

Juventud Garífuna Luwéyuri Aníchigu (JUGALA)

Organización Nacional de Jóvenes Garínagu

Organización La Esperanza de Mujeres Garífunas (OLAMUGAH)

Sociedad Hondureña Activa en Nueva York (SHANY)

Colaboración Planetaria (COPLANET)

Federación de Patronatos de Iriona,

Patronato de Limón Colon,

Comunidad Garífuna de Plaplaya

Comunidad Garífuna de Batalla

Comunidad Garífuna de Pueblo Nuevo

Comunidad Garífuna Tocamacho

Comunidad Garífuna de Cocalito

Comunidad Garífuna de Sangrelaya

Comunidad Garífuna de Iriona Puerto

Comunidad Garífuna de San José de la Punta

Comunidad Garífuna de Iriona Viejo

Comunidad Garífuna de Ciriboya

Comunidad Garífuna de Cusuna

Comunidad Garífuna de Punta Piedra

Comunidad Garífuna de Limón

Comunidad Garífuna Santa Rosa de Aguan

Comunidad Garífuna Trujillo

Comunidad Garífuna Santa Fe

Comunidad Garífuna San Antonio

Comunidad Garífuna Guadalupe

Comunidad Garífuna Nueva Armenia

Comunidad Garífuna Rio Esteban

Comunidad Garífuna Sambo Creek

Comunidad Garífuna Corozal

Comunidad Garífuna Punta Gorda

Comunidad Garífuna Triunfo de Cruz

Comunidad Garífuna San Juan

Comunidad Garífuna Tornabe

Comunidad Garífuna Bajamar

Comunidad Garífuna Travesía

Comunidad Garífuna Masca

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