Honduras: Why do Garifuna community radios burn?
In the early morning hours of Wednesday January 6, the Garifuna community radio Faluma Bimetu (“Sweet Coconut”) based in Triunfo de la Cruz was burnt down by unknown armed individuals who proceeded to loot the station's radio equipment. This is not the first time the radio has been attacked and its equipment stolen.
In 2002 unknown people stole the transmitter and other key tools for radio transmission. The Garifuna people have been exposed to a slow process of assimilation into the dominant culture through the mass media - monopolies that are in the hands of figures who are well known throughout the country as manipulators of information.
Lacking control of our own Garifuna media has led to an acceleration of loss of our culture, a process that has become increasingly painful. Most of the communities with access to television are confronted by a permanent alienation through consumerism, acculturation, alienation (soccer, fashion, soap operas, cartoons and violence) and media terrorism. We have also seen a decline in the use of our own indigenous language, which has become, lamentably, a second language.
Transmission of Radio Faluma Bimetu began in 1997, promoted by the Land Defense Committee of Triunfo de la Cruz (CODETT), in order to strengthen Garifuna culture and defend the ancestral territory of the community.
Triunfo de la Cruz, like other Tela Bay Garifuna communities, has become a conflict zone since the intervention of businessmen, politicians and foreign investors attempting to seize community land for the construction of mega-tourism projects.
This systematic usurpation at the hands of outsiders has led the community – conducted by CODETT and the Community Board -- to file a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(IACHR), who accepted the case on 14th March 2006, registered under No. 125-48. For the powerful ruling elite of Honduras, the staunch defense taken by the community of Triunfo de la Cruz of their ancestral territory, is a serious challenge to their economic interests.
Honduras is renowned for the high level of poverty for the majority of its inhabitants ruled by a minority that holds the country under a feudal regime. The use of mass media by the local feudal lords has been an effective tool for control and manipulation.
As in the rest of Latin America, the media monopolies have served to replicate the distortion of information and thus perpetuate domination. The community radios of the Garifuna have been growing strong over the past decade, setting a precedent among our people. And the primary goal is the protection of our culture - which is closely linked to Mother Earth.
Up to the present moment, we have installed four community radios and in the not too distant future we envision extending the network throughout the entire Garifuna nation. The overarching goal: to strengthen and enrichen our culture, to defend our ancestral territory and at the same time, to build early warning systems to deal with climate change, earthquakes, and diseases.
The attack against Radio Faluma Bimetu can be simply reduced to the fact that it enrages the power elite that we, the Garifuna, have been in a process of cultural resistance that has lasted 212 years. And, specifically, that we have broken chains by actively participating in the resistance against the destruction of democracy in our country, a crime (the June 28th Coup) committed by the Honduran oligarchy last year - with the support of the troglodyte right wing of the United States.
Given these facts, OFRANEH (Honduran Black Fraternal Organization) demands respect for the right to provide information, as indicated in Article 13 - Freedom of Thought and Expression, of the the Inter-American Convention on Human Human. Specifically, we require a full investigation into this act perpetrated against the Garifuna community radio and against of our people in general.