214 drums, 214 years demanding respect for Garífuna rights

Original Spanish article and additional photos can be found at (versión original en español abajo y fotos adicionales se encuentra al):


214 drums…214 years demanding respect for Garífuna rights

Written by Claudia Mendoza

Friday, 01 April 2011 14:02

Garífuna men, women, and young people in traditional dress, along with 214 drums symbolizing the number of years they have lived as a people on Honduran soil, took the streets of Tegucigalpa as their stage and demanded respect for their human rights.

The National Teaching University served as the meeting point for the Garífuna community, who then headed towards the Presidential House (also referred to as Government House). This unusual method of protest, in the form of 214 drums – percussion instruments that have accompanied this Honduran ethnicity throughout its existence – was not the only focal point of the demonstration.

Shouting slogans and displaying messages on banners and placards, the Garífuna people were accompanied by members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, COPINH, all demanding a stop to the dispossession of Garífuna and Lenca land and territory.

Miriam Miranda, coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras – OFRANEH – said that they came to the capital to make their demands visible to the government, the population, and the international community, not to celebrate. "We want our lands – which have been handed over to private business owners for commercial exploitation – to be respected," she affirmed.

The marchers also reminded the government of the urgent need for integral agrarian reform that includes respect for lands belonging to ethnic populations in Honduras.

Throughout the demonstration the sector made clear their discontent with projects recently approved by the National Congress, such as "charter cities" and river concessions for hydroelectric dam projects, all responding to the interests of private business owners who, not satisfied with "bleeding" the country’s resources in order generate thermal energy, are proceeding towards their objective of appropriating the country’s forest resources.

The refoundation of Honduras as well as a stop the brutality against teacher’s demonstrations across the country were other demands made clear in this peaceful demonstration by Garífuna and Lenca peoples.

OFRANEH sweats in the streets while ODECO celebrates in the Presidential House

While members of OFRANEH carried out their activities on the streets, under the hash sun and accompanied by burning incense and ancestral songs, inside the Presidential House the Organization for Ethnic Development – ODECO – was raising their glasses with government officials, commemorating 214 years of Garífuna presence in the country.

"We did not come to the presidential house to be received by someone who has not been able to resolve, through dialogue, the conflict with the teacher’s organizations; we do not want to celebrate, and we do not have any reason to do so," said Miranda regarding the activities inside, adding that what the Garífuna people need is respect for their human rights and access to their land, not a toast in the Presidential House.

The unique protest ended outside of the Presidential House, where the Garífuna community made their demands known and issued a reminder to the Honduran population at large that without refoundation, the country would continue as is – with fierce social inequality.

214 tambores…214 años de exigencia del respeto de los derechos garífunas

Written by Claudia Mendoza

Friday, 01 April 2011 14:02

Vistiendo sus ancestrales atavíos, hombres mujeres y jóvenes garífunas hicieron de las calles de Tegucigalpa el escenario en el cual con 214 tambores, que simbolizan los años de su presencia en suelo hondureño, exigieron el respeto a los derechos humanos de su pueblo.