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Texas Garifuna-Belizeans Community

Published for & by the Garifuna-Belizean Community of  Killeen/Texas

ISSUE NUMBER:  002-2000                          September 2000


What Our Forefathers Said About Reparation
Our Past a Detriment

My father; the Late Justin Mejia "Don Justo" Flores, was a visionary, who loved and cared for his people emmencely.  He was lowly man, with minimal education, yet gifted with a great foresight, who; from a very young age, saw the need for documenting the Garifuna past and present in order to give the culture a reasonable chance of existing in the future. Don Justo was also a man of action, who taught himself the rediments of writing, music and orthography,so as to be able to do whatever he could for them.  With his God-given talent and ability, he went on to make several musical records, and write on nearly every aspect related to the Garinagu, including their language and history; dating back to their Carib Indian ancestry, through their deportation and settlement in Central America, and unto their migration to the United States of America.  He continued with his personal crusade for the Garifuna people to the very end of his life, leaving behind upon his death in 1995 the manuscripts of two books he was working on simultaneously.

As a faithful follower of Don Justo's Garifuna philosophy, I carefully went through all eight of the full length books he wrote in search of any messages he may have left concerning his race being owed by anyone. No where could I find words such as Redress, Compensation, Restitution, nor any other that may be considered synonymous to Reparation.  I was not surprised, for during our lifelong association and my innumerable correspondences with him that issue was never a subject of discussion.

Don Justo's message to us states for us to remember the past, but let it not be a detriment to our future.

Thomas Vincent Ramos taught us not to mourn those past; but rather, Celebrate it, and move forward.

Does this mean that the Garinagu before us never thought of Reparation?  Most likely they did.  For history proves that any person, or group thereof, wronged by others are left with some measure of resentment and a feeling for recompence.  Numerous wars, resulting in countless loss of  lives; even entire cultures, can be traced back to those resentments, and such groups as the Japanese-Americans and Kuwaiti people are examples of those who've pursued or won reparation from belligerents in recent times.  Garifuna people; with what thay have gone through at the hands of others, are no exception to those thoughts and feelings. The difference is, what we have done with them.

We, in the past two hundred years, has taken that resentment and utilized it as a pillar of strength to forge ahead.  We have not been sitting around being sorry for ourselves, waiting for others to feel our pain.  Those resentments have not been allowed to fester and scar the minds of the people, passed on from one generation to the other to become weaved into the fabric of our society. We have done without Reparation from anyone, and doing well still. What the quest for reparation will now do is  reopen wounds long healed by time.

I; personally, am in support of revisiting our past for a few specific reasons, none of which has to do with any financial restitution to the Garifuna peopleThe quest for reparation to me, means that it will force archives to be opened, and from them we will learn the real truth about our past.  I'd like my mind to be put to rest of wondering if; there actually was a Chief by the name of Satuye, what really happened to him, why was it necessary to remove us from the West Indian Islands, if there is a list of names of those who were shipped.

The spirits of our fathers will be with us on this journey.  A journeythat we can expect to be long and ardious, with disappointing abstacles strewn all along the way.  We need to be all involve, including our children, so they too may be prepared to shoulder the burden and carry on the tasks ahead.

Wabarohn-wama, lidahn abah

Together; we shall Overcome.

Joseph R. Flores

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