Garifuna Land Entitlements
in Honduras: Attempts to preserve the land.
One of the major issues effecting the Garifuna community
in Honduras is their land entitlement In Honduras. Approximately 200,000 Garifuna people live
in their traditional villages located along the Atlantic Coast
from Masca in the Department of Cortes to Playaplaya in the eastern
Department of Gracias a Dios.
In the past two decades, wealthy landowners have been buying
up large portions of land and building hotel resorts in the Garifuna
The reform of Article 107, of the Honduran Constitution
makes it legal for foreigners to own land and infrastructure on
the Caribbean coast. The Garifuna communities have become prime
territories for tourism.
The law stipulates that Garifuna persons residing in the
villages must show deeds proving that their ancestors passed down
the properties to them; other wise, the property is not legally
theirs. Since many Garifuna lacks deeds, they are losing the land/properties.
Most Garifuna never bothered to obtain deeds because they assumed
that the land was always theirs since it was always passed down
from generation to generation.
Also, some Garifuna individuals are selling property and
land because they are desperate and they need the additional income.
Unemployment and underemployment in Honduras is high.
When a Garifuna person is poor and has very little income
coming in, they eagerly sell their properties/land.
Many Garifuna people see the eco-tourism problem
as inevitable. They believe
that the tourism industry can only benefit them, if the community
owns property and are stakeholders. Currently, the
Garifuna Honduran communities are in the process of developing
an economic plan for sustainable development in Honduras.
In particular, the Garifuna Coalition USA located
in New York has been very active in addressing the lands right
issues. They are currently working with Human Rights organizations
under the UN and are seeking legal representation in order to
protect the land. Their goal is to get the Government to incorporate
article 107 so that the Garifuna can be able to develop tourism
projects through joint ventures. They are proposing that the government
establish flexible financial support programs, so that the Garifuna
can develop these tourism programs.