<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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“We Call for a November 2010 Plebiscite so the Honduran People Can Vote on a New Constitution”

Declaration of the XVIII National Gathering of Afro-Honduran Youth

By the Youth of ODECO
La Ceiba, Honduras

August 31, 2009

We, young Afro-Hondurans leaders representing the communities of Bajamar, Corozal, Masca, Tornabe, Río Esteban, La Ensenada, Nuevo Go, Sambo Creek, Nueva Armenia, Punta Gorda, San Antonio, Guadalupe, Batalla, Trujillo, Puerto Castilla, Triunfo de La Cruz, Limón, San José de la Punta, San Juan, Santa Rosa de Aguan, Sangrelaya, Ciriboya, Cocalito, Plaplaya, Colonia Alfonso Lacayo Sánchez, Travesía, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and the city of La Ceiba, at the conclusion of the XVIII National Gathering of Afro-Honduran Youth of the Organization for Ethnic and Community Development (ODECO), celebrated in the city of La Ceiba, Atlántida, at the Satuye Cultural Center on August 27, 28, 29 and 30 of this year, with the goal of:

Seventy-five young community organizers met on August 27, 28 and 29 in La Ceiba, Honduras, and authored this declaration calling for a November 2010 referendum for a new Constitution. D.R. 2009, Samuel Molina..
Creating a space for reflection and participation by the Afro-Honduran youth to construct leadership committed to the yearning for the political, economic, social, cultural and environmental development of Afro-Honduran communities;

Conscious of the importance of our role as young Afro-Honduran leaders and having the opportunity to gether and share in this process of revindication of the economic, social, political, cultural and environmental rights of our communities, as a means to achieve the development and empowerment of the same, we assume our responsibility as leaders representing the Afro-descendant youth in Honduras, and declare the following:

1. We express our concern about the constant violations of human rights, a situation aggravated by the political crisis that Honduras has lived since June 28, 2009.

2. We categorically back the proposal by President Oscar Arias to put an end to the Honduras political crisis and we propose an agreement between the political, economic and social forces with the following aspects:

  • Reform of the election laws and the political organization of the country so that elections for President, Congress and municipal office will be held on separate days.
  • The immediate implementation of the right to plebiscite and referendum.
  • The convocation of a PLEBISCITE so that the citizenry can vote on the writing of a NEW CONSTITUTION, with clear guarantees for wider and more representative participation among all sectors of the Honduran people. This plebiscite should be held on the last Sunday of November of 2010.
  • The formation of a Government of National Unity and Reconciliation to untangle the broken institutional order and, to heal the wounds that bloody, divide and impoverish the Honduran people. The transition government that we propose must be apart from the interests of the interest groups that historically and traditionally have usurped the powers of the State. The unity government must take urgent action to strengthen democracy and assure a wider multiethnic and pluricultural participation by the Honduran people.
  • Budget sufficient resources to foment the productive farmer, indigenous and Afro-Honduran development, as well as small and mid-sized business initiatives, with the goal of providing the tools for the growth and development of the sectors that are most historically excluded and impoverished.

3. We express our concern for the accelerated destruction of the indigenous and Afro-Honduran peoples, as a result of the absence of public policies that safeguard, preserve and promote the national culture and identity. We deplore the destitution of Doctor Dario Euraque, a distinguished professional who has been separated from his position as director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History illegally and irresponsibly and to him we offer our solidarity and support.

4. We deplore the lack of political will by the functionaries of the institutions of the Honduran State to implement the legal, national and international instruments that protect the rights of children, adolescents and youths. This indifference and lack of political will aggravates the problems of health and education of the Afro-Honduran communities, especially in relation to those infected and affected by the sexual transmission of HIV-AIDS as well as the proliferation of drugs and alcohol.

5. We condemn the dishonest administrations that make promises and do not comply with their word. In that sense, we reaffirm our support and participation in the organized struggle of our people, so that the next government of the Republic complies with the Campaign Promises signed with the Afro-Honduran and indigenous communities on March 19, 2009, at the Second National Solidarity Conference. The support we demand from the government of the Republic also implies the financial and technical backing to implement the 11 Master Plans for Sustainable Development of the Afro-Honduran Communities.

6. We reiterate our demand that the proportional and representative participation by Afro-Honduran youth in public office in municipal and national governments, including in the diplomatic corps.

7. The problem of land ownership continues representing one of the most serious conflicts that confront the Garifuna communities, as national and international interests converge on a region of high strategic value for the tourism industry and because it is a key natural resource for the accumulation of wealth. That’s why we exhort the Honduran State and international cooperation to continue the process of cleaning up the land titles in our Afro-Honduran communities as well as supporting them through sustainable development.

8. We call to the attention of the functionaries of the institutions of the Honduran State and the citizenry in general to the growing vulnerability of the Afro-Honduran communities as a consequence of climate change. It is urgent to generate and share initiatives for adaptation, contingency plans and mitigation of natural disasters.

9. We back ODECO in its efforts and work to respect and make visible human rights and for the development of Afro-Honduran communities. In that, we recognize that the Campaign Promises signed by the five presidential candidates for the term of 2010-2014 as a valuable instrument of political action that can be used to better the conditions of inequality and exclusion in our communities.

10. We express our gratitude to the Ford Foundation, UICN, UNICEF, and ICCO for support for this XVIII National Gathering of Afro-Honduran Youth and encourage them to continue supporting the youth initiatives of our organization.

11. We also express our recognition to ODECO and ONECA for its action in governmental and nongovernmental institutions to win the inclusion and empowerment of the youth and the Afrodescentant populations and communities of Honduras and Central America. In this vein, we express our support and effective participation in the VI Gathering of Afro-Central American Youth that will be held October 15, 16 and 17 of 2009 in the city of La Ceiba, as well as the celebration of the XV General Assembly of ONECA to be held in Punta Gorda, Belize, on December 3, 4 and 5 of 2009.

12. Once more we commit ourselves to continue promoting the connections between ODECO and its networks of Afro-Honduran youths with the young Afrodescendants of the Central American Black Organization (ONECA) with the goal of strengthening the vision, articulation and global structure of the Afrodescendant youth of the hemisphere.

We ratify our commitment to continue participating and strengthening the leadership of Afro-Honduran youth, and so we propose to the Youth Secretary of ODECO that the XIX National Gathering of Afro-Honduran youth be held in 2010.

Signed in the city of La Ceiba, Atlántida, on August 29, 2009.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America