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.