OFRANEH rep and Garifuna leader César Geovanni Bernardez was detained this afternoon in La Ceiba at around 4 pm. Geovanni is being charged with usurpation or illegal possession of land by Canadian businessman Patrick Forseth of CARIVIDA Villas related to an on-going land reclamation project in the Garifuna community of Guadalupe, department of Colon. It is CRYSTAL CLEAR that CARIVIDA is illegally possessing land Garifuna land (not the other way around) and that the only way that these capture orders were permitted is through corruption and abuse of authority.
Geovanni travels all over as a representative of OFRANEH but he is originally from Santa Fe in Trujillo Bay. For several years, OFRANEH and the Garifuna communities in Trujillo Bay have been battling illegal land sales made to American and Canadian developments including the Canadian Porn King Randy Jorgensen. On November 10th of last year, Medeline David, a Garifuna leader in Guadalupe was detained and tortured by the police in Trujillo for the same CARIVIDA project and the same charges as Geovanni.
OFRANEH is particularly concerned about Geovanni because he and other Garifuna youth in Santa Fe and Guadalupe were personally threatened a few days ago by the mayor of Santa Fe who has been involved in illegal sales as well. When they were threatened, the mayor made specific reference to Geovanni's "vulnerability" referring to the fact that he knew that Geovanni travels frequently to various Garifuna communities on the coast for his work with OFRANEH. The mayor has connections inside the Honduran military.
Since Geovanni was detained in La Ceiba, OFRANEH is worried that the Honduran police will take their time to release him by insisting that he be sent to Trujillo where the capture orders came from. That would mean that they might hold him until Monday.
PLEASE CALL ALL THE FOLLOWING PHONE NUMBERS AND DEMAND:
1. Geovanni's immediate release.
2. That OFRANEH have access to speak to him in detention.
3. That all charges of usurpation be dropped against him (as they were with Medelin's case because the charges have no basis).
Call or email or message the following numbers:
- Norma Cerratos, Honduran Sub-Secretary of Human Rights: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Canadian Ambassador for Honduras: email@example.com or call the embassy in Tegucigalpa: 011-504-2232-4551
- Human Rights and Labor representative, Jason Smith, SmithJA6@state.gov (Jason is on vacation) so send to: GromovichG@state.gov
- CARIVIDA: www.carivida.com - go to "More" - go to "Contact Us" - send them a message and tell them to get off Garifuna land.
Between April 5-7th, 2017, U.S.-based Delta Apparel fired over 40 workers that suffer from crippling musculoskeletal injuries, from their factory in Villanueva, Cortés, Honduras. Most have worked with the company for over 10 years. 25 of the 40 workers have refused to accept any settlements and are demanding that Delta Apparel give them their jobs back.
Without their jobs, the injured workers lose their health coverage and cannot access needed medical benefits and treatments, including operations, medicines, and rehab. Since they were fired, CODEMUH, The Honduran Women’s Collective, and the workers have organized protests outside of Delta’s factory. Delta Apparel needs to hear from you!
The 25 workers - 22 women and three men – have received medical diagnoses that demonstrate that their injuries have been largely caused by the repetitive assembly line work in the factories. Honduran law requires that Delta relocate injured workers inside the factory in order to reduce the risk factors that caused the injuries. Delta refused to do this. Instead they fired the workers, using their injuries and diagnoses as the justification! Honduran law is weakly enforced because foreign companies are very powerful and the government is corrupt. That’s why Delta Apparel needs to hear from workers and consumers in the U.S.
CODEMUH and the 25 recently fired employees are requesting that international organizations and individuals, send letters, email, call, tweet and Facebook the Delta Apparel’s U.S. headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina. It is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.
Call, tweet, facebook, and write Delta Apparel and demand:
1. That Delta Apparently reinstate the 25 fired workers, without conditions and without delay.
2. That the company abide by Honduran law, and relocate the 25 workers to positions in the factories and that they stop exposing their workers to the risk factors that cause these injuries in the first place.
Delta Apparel, Corporate Headquarters: 322 South Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina 29601,
Tel: 864-232-5200, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter: @DeltaApparel; Facebook: Delta Apparel
Write the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa (SmithJA6@state.gov) and insist that they follow-up with Delta Apparel and the Honduran government to ensure the workers’ voices are heard.
May 8, 2017
Dear CEO and President Robert W. Humphreys,
It has come to our attention that Delta Apparel fired over 40 Honduran employees in early April 2017 from their Delta Apparel Honduras factory in Villanueva, Cortes. Of the 40 fired employees, 25 workers – 22 women and 3 men – are demanding that Delta Apparel give them their jobs back. All 25 workers are injured with work-related injuries like musculoskeletal disorders, as diagnosed by the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS), Without their jobs, they cannot access the expensive and specialized medical treatment they need for their injuries.
Delta Apparel knows that these workers are injured, but it simply wants to rid itself of a problem that the conditions in their own factory created! Delta justified firing the workers because of the diagnoses that the workers have been given by the IHSS, but the law is very clear: Delta is legally required to relocate the workers inside the factory in order to reduce the physical stress and risk factors that caused their injuries in the first place. However, Delta has refused in various hearings held by the Honduran Ministry of Labor to reinstate the 25 workers in jobs appropriate for their health conditions. We demand that their voices be heard!
All fired employees have worked with the company for between 10-19 years, and all require immediate and specialized medical assistance as a result of the injuries they have developed on Delta’s assembly lines. The 25 employees should not be thrown away like a used and broken machine. They want their jobs back, and they need their jobs back so that they can continue to receive medical coverage through the Social Security Institute for the damage Delta Apparel has done to their bodies while working for them.
We demand that Delta Apparel abide by Honduran law and act as the “socially responsible” company it claims to be! Give the 25 workers their jobs back, without delay or conditions, and relocate them inside the factory to jobs where they are no longer at risk of further injury at no reduction in pay!
Semana Santa or Holy Week is observed in most parts of Latin America the week leading up to Easter. A lot of Hondurans take advantage of the religious holidays where basically everything - stores, government offices, banks, etc. - close down, and hit the beaches or rivers. Its the best excuse to take a road trip, leave the cities, and look for any possible way to cool off in the extremely hot climate that begins around the same time of year.
This year, I was invited to Amapala, the main town on El Tigre Island that is surrounded by the waters of the Gulf of Fonseca in the Pacific Ocean. I have not been blogging at all in the last month because of my travels inside and outside of Honduras, including this trip to southern Honduras. I've never actually written any sort of tourist post related to my travels in the country, so figured I would give it a go.
While visiting Amapala, we ate local seafood, took a 2.5 hour boat ride to the mainland Port of Henecán - the only port on the Honduran Pacific coast - in San Lorenzo, Valle, watched the sunsets, did a trip around the whole island, chatted with local folks, and visited the beach.
On the boat ride to the port, and also a restaurant in San Lorenzo, we drove by Bird Island, named for the various species of birds that land or live there; tons of mangroves that protect the coast, shelter and feed the diversity of species living on land or in the water; and to our dismay, the several large vacation homes and mansions of Honduras' national elite including energy magnate, Freddy Nasser; current President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and others.
We stayed in Playa Negra (Black Beach in English), given its name after the color of its sand. On our first walk on the beach, we came across a small group of youth digging up "chiquirines" - a type of seafood that lives under the sand where the waves wash onto the shore. Chiquirines translates to crickets in English but I am unfamiliar with their real English name, if it even exists. On the last day, we bought some chiquirines from two local boys and decided to cook them up and try them. They were a little crunchy, but overall, delicious.
On the way back from Amapala, we stopped on the main road in Pespire, a southern town with arguably the best small yellow mangos in the country. Pespire mangos can be found in most of the Tegucigalpa markets, and I can definitely say that Pespire mangoes alone, have converted me into a major mango lover.
One year ago today, COPINH member Nelson Noel Garcia Lainez (39) was murdered outside of his home between 11:20 and 11:30 am in the small city of Peña Blanca, municipality of Santa Cruz de Yojoa in western Honduras. Nelson's murder was widely reported in national and international press as he was the second COPINH member assassinated in less than two weeks after the March 2, 2016 murder of COPINH's General Coordinator and well-known activist Berta Cáceres.
Earlier that morning on March 15th and the day before his murder, Nelson had been present at a land reclamation project organized by 150-180 families in an area known as Rio Chiquito in the municipality of San Francisco de Yojoa, Cortes. For two years, since July 16, 2014, Nelson Garcia and his family including his wife Mercedes Yolanda Zelaya Mendoza and four children, Nelson Ariel (15), Cristian Noel (14), Cesia Abigail (11), and Steven Adonay (5) had been involved in a land struggle that identified and coordinated their actions as a base community of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).
After returning to his home a short distance from the land recuperation, a young man, assisted by unusual individuals believed to have been monitoring the Garcia home hours earlier, approached the family's home. Nelson accompanied by his son Cristian arrived in his car when the young man walked up, pulled a gun and shot at Nelson thirteen times – four times in the face, and once in the chest. Mercedes drove him to a clinic where Nelson died. The murder was witnessed by three of his family members: Mercedes, Cristian and Steven.
Following Nelson's murder, the Garcia family and relatives have faced non-stop threats, largely perpetuated by the negligence of Honduran authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding Nelson's murder and the source and reasons of the on-going threats against his family. Nelson's wife, Mercedes, and her four children are still displaced from their home and unable to return to their community as a result. Although an arrest has been made in the case, the continuing threats suggest that the criminal perpetrators enabled by the high levels of impunity and lack of investigation, are still free.
Today, one year later, one year without justice, we remember and honor Nelson Garcia.
*********************************** SPANISH TRANSLATION ***************************************
Nelson Garcia Presente: Un Año Sin Justicia
Hoy hace un año, un miembro de COPINH, Nelson Noel Garcia Lainez (39) fue asesinado afuera de su casa entre 11:20 y 11:30 am en la cuidad pequeña de Peña Blanca en el municipio de Santa Cruz de Yojoa en el occidente de Honduras. El asesinato de Nelson fue reportado ampliamente en los medios nacionales y internacionales porque fue el segundo miembro de COPINH asesinado en menos de dos semanas despues del asesinato de la Coordinadora General de COPINH y activista muy conocida, Berta Cáceres.
En las horas tempranas el 15 de marzo y el dia antes de su asesinato, Nelson estuvo presente en una recuperación de tierra organizada por 150 a 180 families en una area conocida como Rio Chiquito en el municipio de San Francisco de Yojoa, Cortes. Por dos años, desde el 16 de Julio 2014, Nelson Ariel (15), Cristian Noel (14), Cesia Abigail (11), y Steven Adonay (5) habian estado involcrados en la lucha por la tierra identificado y coordinado con el Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares e Indigenas de Honduras (COPINH).
Despues de regresar a su casa ubicada a poca distancia de la recuperación de tierra, un joven, apoyado por desconocidos quienes se cree estaban vigilando el hogar de la familia Garcia desde temprano, se acercó a su casa. Nelson, acompañado por su hijo Cristian Noel dos hijos, llegaron en su carro cuando el muchacho venia caminando sacó una arma y le disparó a Nelson trece veces – cuatro veces en la cara y una vez en el pecho. Mercedes lo llevo a la clínica donde Nelson se murió. Tres miembros de su familia, Mercedes, Cristian y Steven fueron testigos del asesinato.
Tras el asesinato de Nelson, la familia Garcia han enfrentado amenazas continuas, perpetuadas en gran parte por la negligencia de las autoridades hondureñas quienes fallan a investigar las circunstancias de su muerte y el origen y razones de las amenazas en curso, contra su familia. La esposa de Nelson, Mercedes y sus cuatros hijos aun estan displazados de su hogar y no pueden regresar a su comunidad. Aunque se han realizado un arresto en el caso, las amenazas continuas indican que los autores criminals habilitados por los altos niveles de impunidad y la falta de investigación, todavia estan libres.
Hoy, un año despues, un año sin justicia, recordamos y honoramos a Nelson Garcia.