Target: Arturo Corrales, Minister of the Interior
Goal: Protect a Honduran community from armed violence at the hands of drug traffickers
The Garífuna community in Vallecito, Colón Department has faced harassment and violence ever since it was granted its land in 1997. The community’s recent discovery of an illegal drug trafficking route on its land has led to further violence, wherein some community members were kidnapped and held at gunpoint. Tell authorities in Honduras to protect members of the Garífuna community, investigate any attacks against them, and enforce the Garífuna’s right to the land.
The Garífuna people are the descendents of Africans brought to the Caribbean by white colonists. Garífuna and other indigenous communities in Honduras often face prejudice and discrimination, which is why it is key that the Garífuna community in Vallecito be protected. However, recent events have shown that the community–and its right to its own land–has not been respected. Amnesty International reports that drug traffickers have constructed “an illegal runway” through a remote part of Garífuna territory, and the community members and activists who discovered it were attacked by four armed men who kidnapped them, took their phones, and threatened to kill them. The group was eventually freed after negotiations, but the fact remains that the Garífuna have been–and will likely continue to be–the victims of violence from outside groups.
It is up to the government of Honduras to provide support and protection to the Garífuna community at Vallecito and to investigate any and all acts of violence perpetrated against it. Sign the petition and urge the government to ensure that community members and activists remain safe.
Dear Minister of the Interior,
It is the responsibility of any government to protect its people from harm. Sadly, the government of Honduras has gravely failed the Garífuna community of Vallecito in this respect. The community, its residents, and activists all face violence, threats, and harassment, and it is high time the government did something about it. I urge you to provide protection to community members and activists and to investigate any attacks and threats against them.
The most recent instance of violence against the community at Vallecito came as community members and activists discovered “an illegal runway” used by drug traffickers, Amnesty International reports. The runway was built on Garífuna land without the community’s knowledge or consent, and although the army destroyed it in January 2014, it was in the process of being rebuilt by traffickers. Around the time of this discovery, four armed men kidnapped and threatened the community members who found it. The community members were eventually released, but this level of violence is unacceptable and merits a thorough investigation.
I urge you to provide the Garífuna community at Vallecito with more support and with protection in accordance with the wishes of its members. The reconstruction of the drug runway must be investigated and the results of that investigation must be made public. The army in the area must be more vigilant when it comes to monitoring potentially dangerous activities on or near Garífuna lands, and it must be committed to protecting the people of the community.
Please do not let the people of Vallecito down again.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn