Share

Since last year, high numbers of Garifuna people from Honduras – of mixed African and indigenous Arawak heritage – have been migrating to the United States. They say they are fleeing discrimination and seizure of  traditional lands. Latino USA producer Marlon Bishop reported on the Garifuna exodus for this week’s episode of Latino USA. Below, check out some of the photographs he took while he was there.

A
Norma Quioto lives in Barra Veija, a small Garifuna community located on a spit of land between the Caribbean Sea and the Laguna de Los Micos, a lagoon.

B
Next door to Barra Vieja is Miami, one of the more traditional-looking communities in the country. Houses here are made of manaca, or dried coconut palm fronds.

C
Barra Vieja residents build a house together. Many Garifuna communities have a system called manovuelta – basically, “you help me build my house, I help you build your house.” It’s a form of communal living.

D
Carlos Castillo, democratically-elected head of the town council in Barra Vieja, shows off his photo in a Honduran newspaper. The article reports on an attempted eviction of the community that happened in September 2014.

E
Residents believe the eviction was related to the nearby Indura Beach & Golf Resort, a $120 million dollar tourism project owned by the Honduran government and business interests. Garifuna communities have been fighting against the development of the resort since the mid 1990s.

F
Residents believe the eviction was related to the nearby Indura Beach & Golf Resort, a $120 million dollar tourism project owned by the Honduran government and business interests. Garifuna communities have been fighting against the development of the resort since the mid 1990s.

G
Members of the Garifuna at Barra Vieja pose under the tree that serves as a town square. “We don’t want any tall buildings here,” says Raymond Grant. “We want to keep living how we’ve been living.”

H
Luis García is a drum-maker and community leader from Sambo Creek. His family has been making drums for generation. He says that knowledge is fading out in the community.  “When four young people who might have learned to make drums migrate instead, that’s four less drum makers,” he says.

I
Luis Garcia’s infant daughter doesn’t make drums yet, but he wants to teach her one day. For the meantime, she enjoys banging on them.

J
Rolando Sosa, better known as Chichi Man, plays guitar in his back patio in Sambo Creek. The music he plays is parranda, sometimes referred to as the Garifuna blues.

K
To get to the Garifuna community of Vallecito, you have to drive East towards the Mosquitia rainforest for many hours. It’s a dicey part of the country, where the majority of drugs that come through Honduras are trafficked.

L
Vallecito is a swath of ancestral land that the Garifuna have won title to in a Honduran court. At mid-day, women prepare beans for a communal meal.

M
Miriam Miranda is the leader of OFRANEH, a grassroots political activist organization that agitates for Garifuna rights. She wants to see Vallecito become a sanctuary for Garifuna around the Honduras and beyond who have been displaced, so they don’t feel they have to migrate to the U.S.

N                                             There are only a few full-time residents at Vallecito, but many young Garifuna come for short stays to help develop the project. Here, a plan outlines the day’s work – clearing land, planting land, repairing infrastructure.

O
Erlan Diego, 25, is a youth leader in OFRANEH. “Being here at Vallecito is like being in the time of my great-grandmother, living without electricity, without technology, with a feeling of brotherhood,” he says. “I want to live this way for the rest of my life.

P
The Garifuna cuisine is based heavily around seafood – seafood stews, fried seafood, grilled seafood. Before you can cook the fish, you have to chop the fish.

Q
Young Garifuna men take a break from working at Vallecito.  In the background, women plant yucca and peppers.

R
At night – the music beings. “We’ve brought back some of the song that only the old women knew,” says Yillian David, 29. But drumming is about more than having fun. “Culture is a powerful form of resistance,” says OFRANEH leader Miriam Miranda.

All photos by Marlon Bishop. Marlon’s reporting in Honduras was supported by Round Earth Media 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.