|Previous Page||Table of Content||Next Page|
On Behalf of the Garifuna People of
Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua
The United States
Dr. Theodore Aranda
National Garifuna Council
During the 1st Meeting Of the Proposed International Garifuna
Reparation to the Garifuna People
Reparation is compensation for wrongs or injuries. However, in our context, Reparation is compensation, rehabilitation, restoration and restitution to us, the Garinagu for the wrong, indignities, damages, injustices, and violations that accompanied our expulsion from our home country, as well as for the indignities, wrongs, and violations that are consequential to that expulsion.
As everyone knows, our homeland was St. Vincent. However, we were attacked, massacred and eventually expelled and finally dumped in Roatan, Honduras.
Most of us stayed in Honduras, but some migrated to what today is Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Belize, and subsequently to the United States. As a result, we are citizens of these countries, stamped with the cultural and national peculiarities of our varied lands.
But what is extremely important is that; not withstanding our varied political and national peculiarities, we remain one people, the Garifuna Diaspora, descendants of that common stock of about 2,000 survivors that were dumped for extermination. The conqueror wanted to wipe us out. Therefore; whether we individually are citizens of Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, Guatemala or the United States, our origin is still from those survivors of the massacre. That common ancestry makes us one people; Garinagu, and the accident of our individual birthplace matters none at all. We are brothers and sisters, Garinagu all.
Reparation to us, therefore, is for what we, as one people, suffered, with no national separation. Neither are we seeking Reparation as individual or separatenational entities. We are a single union, a single organization, a single body, composed of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the United States.
Reparation will involve two phases:
1. Compensation for damages done in and shortly after St. Vincent
2. Reparation and rehabilitation that will empower us to avert the abuses, injustices violations and indignities we continue to suffer as a people as a consequence of the St. Vincent occurrences.
Although we survived the massacre, the expulsion from our home country deprived us of our power base, our achievements were disrupted, our dignity was crushed and we were left completely destitute of political, social and any other rights, leaving us prey and victims to violence to our rights. But perhaps; worse still, was the psychological damage to us resultant from constant bombardment of humiliation, mental injury, emotional impairment, economic shortcomings and very often self-depreciation. There must therefore be reparation and rehabilitation while our fundamental freedoms are set back in place and the indignities and abuses stopped.
"Victory with Our Reparation Will Be The Triumph Of Our Unity"
Reparation; as envisioned above, is obviously a gigantic task, which will require a united effort. The first step toward unification has been taken when six (6) groups from Honduras, Guatemala, USA and Belize met in New York City, Saturday, 26th November, 1994.
The groups were:
1. Unification of Garifuna Culture
2. Libayahn Baba Garifuna Students Association
3. United Garifuna Association
4. Association Garifuna Guatemalteca
5. Prometra Society
6. National Garifuna Council of Belize
These organizations agreed to work as a unified body because we are not diverse groups brought together by a common interest, but rather; we are the one and same people, directly injured by wrongs and abuses. So, not only is working as a unified people psychologically strengthening to us, but it is the most logical approach, and it increases our possibilities at success. Given the greater strength in numbers and the wider base of international approach, we can muster the wider variety of brain power and expertise that will be demanded by the task, and the attributes of unity and strength will be on our side. As in all, working together will enhance our possibilities of succeeding in negotiating what we want. We have too long been denied what we deserve, and we do not expect it to be voluntarily handed to us. We are therefore uniting, and are determined to negotiate what we deserve. We know we must have the stamina and perseverance for a prolonged negotiation, and that we must exercise and demonstrate the brain thrust required for the variety of expertise that will be required to achieve what is our ethnicity deserve.
The meeting underscored six (6) points of agreement:
1. Unity among Garinagu, and to together struggle for their ethnic rights
2. Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the USA diverse and varied groups are to organize and subscribe to an International Garifuna Organization that will represent Garinagu internationally and in world bodies in matters of their concern.
3. Follow-up meetings were proposed:
Honduras February 11-18, 1995
Belize April 8-10, 1995
Guatemala May 10-17, 1995
These meetings will formalize the organization, discuss the varied issues of Reparation and set agenda of short, medium and long term range.
4. The local
and international wings will start the process of recovering whatever Garifuna
lands, privileges and property have been lost, withdrawn or denied.
lands, privileges and property may be Garifuna by law, use, or aspiration.
5. That Reparation entail and embody:
(a) Social skills enhancement
(b) Economic empowerment
(c) Historical research and preservation
(d) Establishment and maintenance of cultural symbols
6. The centers for the following be established and promoted
(a) Garifuna Studies
(c) Arts and Craft
(d) Cultural and Spiritual Development
Joseph R. Flores