“We don’t want outsiders to come and exploit us or remove us from our ancestral lands.
We want to develop an eco-tourism industry which is ours and which will sustain our Garifuna cosmovision and respect the natural environment.”
Garifuna people have lived in Tela Bay, on the north coast of Honduras, for more than 200 years. The community has high levels of poverty and unemployment and relies on fishing and land cultivation. It suffers from the lack of economic prospects, discrimination, migration and lack of government support. Basic infrastructure and sanitary conditions are poor.
UNESCO has identified Garifuna culture as an “outstanding but endangered heritage.” There are only 11,000 Garifuna people, descended from African and Amerindian origins, living in ten communities along the coast of Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua. Their language is largely undocumented and not formally taught except in one village.
Now Tela Bay is changing. The Los Micos Beach and Golf Resort has begun construction in the area, supported by the Honduran Ministry of Tourism and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is funding the project.
“With funding and training, we expect the Garifuna people to have opportunities to develop new businesses, to become entrepreneurs and profit from the arrival of tourism,” Ricardo Martinez, the Honduras Minister of Tourism, said in an interview for this article.
Even so, the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), whose stated aim is to protect the Garifuna’s culture and territory, fears that the resort will lead to the destruction of these local communities. OFRANEH points to recent episodes of violence as examples of repression Garifuna communities face. Continue Reading