Representatives of the Garifuna people, a Central American Afro-indigenous nation, accused the Honduran State of violating their right to land on Friday during the 51st Session of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Asuncion, Paraguay.
Members of the Punta Piedra community affirmed that the Honduran government has not resolved outstanding territorial disputes and illegal invasions on Garifuna land. The Garifuna emphasized that their conditions have worsened in Honduras since the 2009 coup d'état.
Members of the community claim that 21 years ago an illegal invasion of their lands took place that detrimentally impacted the Garifuna's preservation of their language, traditions and agricultural practices. The Garifuna explained that their communities face significant challenges as the Honduran government invests in mega tourism projects, agro-industry and privatized cities.
Community leader Lidia Palacios, 60, explained that the Garifuna want the land that the state took from their people. She also denounced the murder of Felix Ordonez, who was killed after receiving threats following the community's displacement. Palacios stressed that the state has done nothing to resolve his case.
Punta Piedra is the second Garifuna community to present their case to the Court this year.
The community of Triunfo de la Cruz held their case this past May, demanding the right to hold communal land ownership. In Barra Vieja, a community near Triunfo de la Cruz, the Honduran government carried out an eviction in order to expand a mega tourist project that the Garifuna denounced. The Honduran government denies the accusations, saying that the issue is actually a conflict between the communities of Punta Piedra and Rio Miel. The government claims that the Garifuna arrived to the region in 1797 and invaded Miskito territory, presenting the issue as a conflict between two indigenous peoples.
During the session, James Cavallero, member of the IACHR, denounced the Honduran government's plans to create a forest reserve on indigenous territory without first consulting the community. He also said that the Honduran government does not fulfill its commitments to Rio Miel residents.