Canadian mega tourism projects displacing Garifuna Communities in Honduras

November 12, 2015

The Garifuna in Honduras are an indigenous people who have lived off the land for over two centuries along the Caribbean coast. Since 2007 Garifuna communities along the Trujillo region have been displaced from their ancestral lands through illegal expropriation and repression in order to make way for mega tourism projects. The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH by its Spanish acronym) has denounced Canadian investor, Randy Jorgensen’s two companies; Life Vision Developments (gated community projects) and Banana Coast (owns cruise ship terminal) tourism-related projects accused of illegal land purchases belonging to Garífuna communities.

Members of the communities of Rio Negro and Cristales, accompanied by OFRANEH, filed a lawsuit demanding absolute nullity of several fraudulent land sales made in favor of Jorgensen, also known as the Canadian “Porn King”. In June of this year, an arrest warrant was issued for him by the Honduran Attorney General’s office. Charges against Jorgensen involve the illegal purchase and on-going use of land within a community land title belonging to the Garifuna communities of Cristales and Rio Negro, located in Trujillo Bay with a court hearing to take place on November 13 2015.

In a recently released statement OFRANEH said “many years have passed before it was possible for the porn king to be prosecuted for the crime of usurping land. Now it remains to be seen whether the justice system in Trujillo works or just adheres to the tsunami of corruption that is drowning the country”. His investments in the region are seen as the seed for future and controversial Economic Development and Employment Zone (ZEDE) or Model Cities or parts of what could grow into a free trade, special development zone in the region.

Randy Jorgensen is selling these illegally-owned lands to Canadians interested in more economically viable vacation homes. Canadians should be aware that these projects are highly controversial and are not welcomed by the Garifuna communities that are losing their land and cultural integrity as a result.

Common Frontiers welcomes the recent legal developments in favour of the Garifuna community to recuperate their ancestral lands. However, given the rampant corruption and high levels of impunity in Honduras we remain vigilant to ensure justice will be served.

For additional information on the case see the following article from Karen Spring or video interview with Alfredo Lopez, Garifuna leader.

More Info In Honduras: Karen Spring, Honduras Solidarity Network, [504] 9507-3835, [email protected]

More Info In Canada/U.S.: 
Raul Burbano, Program Director, Common Frontiers [416] 522 8615, [email protected] 
Grahame Russell, Rights Action, 416-807-4436, [email protected]ghtsaction.org