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Honduras: Garifuna Village Threatened With Eviction by Mega Project in Tela Bay
Members of the National Police and military are in the Garifuna community of Barra Vieja, Tela, in northern Honduras. “The action is promoted by the partner tourism entrepreneurs Indura | & Beach Resort, with the support of the First Appeals Court in La Ceiba,” said OFRANEH in a public statement.
Barra Vieja, Tela, Honduras Over 50 Garifuna families are about to be in the streets after eviction threats promoted by the owners of Indura Mega Project | & Beach Resort, along with members of the National Police and military denounced the leaders of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) on Wednesday.
According to the Garifuna leader, Nahum Lalin, “the community which was founded in 1958 faces strong pressure from the project Laguna de los Micos now called Indura | & Beach Resort, they plan to evict all the Garifuna community to enable them to continue their projects, which are supposedly for tourism.”
Lalin added that the participation of the Garifuna community in the area “has been zero” even though initially they spoke of a partnership that holds a seven percent share of the funds, which would go to community projects. “Actually what was intended was to destabilize communities, something that has never occurred among the Garifuna. So we know that they wanted to use us, and manipulate us, since no one knows the fate of the seven percent.”
“The eviction order has been repeatedly denounced, and because of this we know that they had been stalled, but now, in the Court of Appeals, there is a new eviction order that is scheduled to be carried out on Monday 29 September,” Lalin said.
According to residents of the Garifuna community of Barra Vieja “they are prepared for anything. So they will not allow them to rob them of their land. “The community of Barra Vieja is located at the entrance of the Indura Beach tourism project which, in a statement from OFRANEH, is guilty of filling in 80 acres of the wetland of the Laguna Los Micos to build a golf course without taking into account the environmental damage it caused in the area.
In early August, police officers with orders from the court of Tela conducted the evacuation of 400 people from the community, arguing that these lands belong to the National Port Company [ENP]. Immediately after this event, other communities and human rights organizations flocked to the area in support of Barra Vieja, denouncing the new outrages and injustices against the Garifuna people.
Induras, which means Honduras in the Garifuna language, is a tourism project located on the coast of Honduras in the midst of Tela Bay, an area recognized internationally for its vast natural wealth.
Plans for the construction of the resort were created in 2003 with the administration of the Nationalist government of Ricardo Maduro, who along with a group of businessmen gave rise to the Tourism Investment Fund, a public-private entity who would finalize the multimillion dollar project.
However, the aforementioned hundreds of miles of beautiful Caribbean beaches with crystal clear waters and white sands are not abandoned. Much of this land has been home to dozens of Garifuna communities for over 200 years.
It was learned, the resort will occupy more than 500 acres of land, a stretch of two miles and plans to fill more than 80 hectares of Laguna los Micos to create a golf course, in open violation of the Convention International Wetlands Protection, known as (RAMSAR).
Another impact to consider is the worsening water crisis for those living in the communities in the area, who will have to compete with the tourism project for access to water. A third problem is related to climate change and the presence of hurricanes. Since this model of tourism development destroys the environment it will leave these areas more vulnerable to the damage caused by these natural phenomena.
The eviction of the community violates Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to ignore the ancestral property of our people on the occupied spot.
As far as OFRANEH is concerned the Tela Bay Project, known as Laguna de Micos and now Indura, “has caused enormous damage to the Garifuna communities, and is part of the looting of the country by its power elite.”
The ASTALDI company, which has an historical presence in Honduras and other countries in the region, is preparing to begin the initial structural framework of the tourism megaproject in Tela Bay, working on filling in Laguna de los Micos to build the golf course and perform basic network infrastructure.
Since the beginning of the 1980s, land speculation began in the Bay of Tela, as did the threats and assassinations of those opposed to the surrender of the territory of the Garifuna communities. A ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in relation to the case of Triunfo de la Cruz is currently expected, and recently the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued the report on admissibility of the case of the community of San Juan, Tela.