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 villages.

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.


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