The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) denounced in its social media accounts that on Wednesday several armed men entered the Garifuna community of Vallecito, Department of Colon, harassing the inhabitants.
The organization warns that this territory has been experiencing increasing threats and militarization in the past weeks.
These lands have an immeasurable economic value and are located in a key area for agricultural production, although they have been strongly affected by climate change, particularly coastal erosion, mining projects, model city projects and the advance of drug trafficking, as this place is used as a corridor to smuggle drugs.
Drug trafficking in the area is not new: after years of drug smugglers advancing through ancestral territories, logging entire forests in Central America to turn them into landing fields, their advance was almost completely halted, but in the past few weeks, they returned to places such as Vallecito to harass the people.
A few hours before these armed groups entered the territory, Miriam Miranda, General Coordinator of OFRANEH, questioned Adán Funez, Mayor of Tocoa for opposing to hold a municipal open assembly to protect natural resources such as rivers and water sources and organize a popular consultation to make a decision about the mining projects Funez is planning to authorize in the area.
“People have the right to be consulted, especially when it comes to the control, use or management of natural resources, which belong to everyone, not just one person”, wrote Miranda in her Twitter account.
24 hours after the armed men entered the territory, Real World Radio contacted Miriam Miranda to have firsthand knowledge about the situation in the area.
Miranda, a defender of the Garifuna people who is criminalized by the Honduran State despite having been granted precautionary measures, warned that she fears for her life and that she is afraid to go to Vallecito until safety measures are ensured, but that she is extremely concerned about the situation experienced by the community. That´s why she calls on human rights organizations to monitor the situation: “We appeal to the international community so that the government knows that people are aware about what is happening in Vallecito. International monitoring is the only thing that will protect our lives”.
“There is no political will from the Honduran government to ensure the safety of the Garifuna people. We believe the aim is to use this Vallecito corridor for drug trafficking. If that many armed men enter, it could end up in a massacre”, warned Miriam Miranda.