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Garifuna resistance in Vallecito: land grabbing for palm oil plantations and drug trade

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Introduction

Vallecito is a small village located on the northeastern coast of Honduras, within the Limón municipality, in the department of Colón (Figure 1). Honduras’ Caribbean coasts are home to the Garifuna communities, one of numerous indigenous groups living in the country.

Even though Garifuna property rights over ancestral lands are guaranteed by national and international conventions (ILO convention n.169) their communities are often threatened by paramilitary forces affiliated with powerful businessmen engaged in land grabbing processes, often for palm oil plantations.

In the corridor between Colón department’s capital Trujillo, and Moskitia, – the tropical rainforest in eastern Honduras that runs along the Mosquito Coast, and extends into the northeastern part of Nicaragua – there are numerous gangs linked to organized crime. They serve the economic interests of palm oil businessmen, politicians and drug smugglers, contributing to a high rate of murders, most of which are not prosecuted. The location of Vallecito on the edge of this corridor has recently turned it into a main target for palm oil and drug trade interests, directly affecting the Garifuna communities living there, who are now struggling for their land and the survival of their people.

 Click here for the factsheet (4 pages): FS_036_Vallecito