ACTION ALERT: Garifuna Leaders Abducted! Ask US Officials to Act!
Alliance for Global Justice
(July 22, 2020) — Snider Centeno and the other Garifuna leaders abducted by unknown men wearing Honduran police vests are still disappeared! Please, write and call your Congressional Representatives and Senators! Ask them to call the State Department and US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, about the recent abduction and forced disappearance of four members of the Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz.
In the past few days, Garifuna communities all over Honduras have blocked roads and engaged in different demonstrations to demand that their disappeared leaders and community members to be returned alive and unharmed. Despite the pressure, the only response from the authorities has been repression. The Honduran government’s lack of action is yet another example of the racism faced by the Afro-indigenous communities in Honduras. In 2019, at least 16 Garifuna people were killed.
In 2015, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the Honduran state for violating the human rights of the Triunfo de la Cruz community, ordering the State to make reparations for the damage and return the stolen lands.The kidnapping and disappearance of Snider and the 3 other men is another attack against the Garifuna community and their struggle to protect their ancestral lands and the rights of afro-indigenous and indigenous people to live.
On the morning of Saturday, July 18, Garifuna leader Snider Centeno and other three members of the Triunfo de la Cruz community where kidnapped and disappeared by a group of men wearing bullet proof vests with the initials of the Honduran National Police (DPI in Spanish).
The DPI is the Investigative Police Directorate and when it was formed years ago, was trained by the United States. As of this Monday Morning, there is still no word on the whereabouts of Mr. Centeno, Milton Joel Marínez, Suami Aparicio Mejía and El Pri (nickname).
National and international pressure forced the Honduran Ministry of Human Rights to put out a statement urging authorities to investigate and act. Your support can make the difference!
As your constituent, I am asking you to call the State Department and US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras about the recent abduction and forced disappearance of four members of the Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz: Snider Centeno, Aparicio Mejía García, Joel Martínez Álvarez, and Alber Sentana Thomas. We have already alerted Honduran officials about the need to immediately investigate this incident and return these men to their communities unharmed, but it has been several days without result, and we are gravely concerned about their safety.
On the morning of Saturday, July 18 at approximately 6 am, these four men were kidnapped and disappeared by a group of men wearing bullet proof vests and believed to be police. The men’s vests had police investigative unit insignia (DPI by its Spanish acronym) on them, although the men arrived in unmarked cars.
Snider Centeno is the president of the elected community council in Triunfo de la Cruz. He and his community won a case heard in the Inter-American Court on Human Rights in 2015 against the Honduran state for property rights violations and failure to consult the Afro-indigenous community about tourism developments on their land. However, the Honduran state has not respected the ruling and continues to encroach on Garifuna ancestral lands to which the Garifuna have title for the purpose of developing beachfront properties for tourists, including the lands belonging to Triunfo de la Cruz.
The community has continued to vocally oppose the Honduran state’s illegal allocation of their lands to development corporations without consultation of the community. We are concerned that the disappearance of this Garifuna leader is in retaliation for this opposition.
Snider Centeno, Aparicio Mejía García and Joel Martínez Álvarez are members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), the Garifuna organization working to protect Garifuna economic, social and cultural rights. OFRANEH has been involved in legal suits and non-violent protests against the Honduran state for its violation of Garifuna rights. We believe they may also have been disappeared because of their membership in OFRANEH.
On May 7, 2020, the State Department certified Honduras on its efforts to providing effective and accountable law enforcement and security for its citizens among other human rights-related issues. I have serious doubts about these efforts and this particular incident highlights the growing insecurity faced by individuals expressing opposition to the government and land defenders in Honduras.
ACTION: Please communicate with utmost urgency to the State Department and Embassy that they must urge Honduran officials to find these men and return them to their community. Time is of the essence — many of those who “disappear” in Honduras are later found dead.
Embassy number (504 2236-9320) and Chargé d’Affaires Colleen Hoey, HoeyCA@state.gov.
Alliance for Global Justice, 225 E 26th St Ste 1, Tucson, Arizona 85713-2925. 202-540-8336. email@example.com
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