GARIFUNA Leader CELEO ALVAREZ CASILDO To Host GARIFUNA Community Meeting About Issues Impacting Garifuna People in Central America on SATURDAY September 27th 2014 in the BRONX

 

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Bronx, New York — Garifuna Leader, Community Organizer, Founder / President of Non-Government Organization ODECO and Activist CELEO ALVAREZ CASILDO will host a Town Hall-esque meeting in the Bronx today (SATURDAY, September 27th 2014) regarding the many issues affecting Garifuna people in Central America.   It is scheduled to begin at 5pm.

Topics scheduled to be discussed include:

  • Recent Migration by Garifunas (as well as other Central Americans) to the United States.
  • United States laws that Protect and Regulation Migration.
  • Report on the case of Mr. Angel Colon-Quevedo, declared a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International.  He has had his Freedom taken away in a Maximum Security Prison in Mexico.
  • Update on the fight over Garifuna Community Lands.
  • Presidential Campaign Commitment to Indigenous People as well as Afro-Honduran peoples.
  • International Decade of People of African Descent.  January 1st 2015 through December 31st 2024.
  • Agreements and Monitoring

Celeo Alvarez Casildo of ODECO in Spain in 2011.  Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

Celeo Alvarez Casildo of ODECO in Spain in 2011. Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

Late September is the annual United Nations General Assembly and typically heads of state and representatives of member countries of the United Nations from across the world gather at the United Nations in New York City to tend to its agenda.

Celeo Alvarez Casildo in Spain in 2011.  Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

Celeo Alvarez Casildo in Spain in 2011. Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

This Meeting is scheduled to take place TODAY (SATURDAY, September 27th 2014) from 5pm to 7pm.  It will take place at:

Saint Simon Stock Church

2191 Valentine Avenue (between E. 181st Street and E. 182nd Street)

Bronx, New York 10457

TRAIN: B or D Train to 182-183 Street Subway Stop

4 Train to 182nd Street Subway Stop

BUS: BX1 or BX2 to Grand Concourse and E. 182nd Street

Celeo Alvarez Casildo in Spain in 2011.  Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

Celeo Alvarez Casildo in Spain in 2011. Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

While this is a LOT to tackle, if you can believe it, there’s even MORE to discuss as it relates to the Garifuna people–particularly in Honduras and the fight over their lands.  That issue is multi-faceted and merits being examined carefully and thoroughly.  For example, Garinagu are being evicted / displaced from the community of Barra Vieja, Honduras.  Will THIS be discussed at this Meeting?

Photo of Garinagu marching in Honduras.  Photo courtesy of odecohn.blogspot.com

Photo of Garinagu marching in Honduras. Photo courtesy of odecohn.blogspot.com

I’ve been meaning to write about this issue and the more I research the issue and investigate, the more questions I have.  I hope to write about this issue at length once I learn enough about the issue.

Celeo Alvarez Casildo and Garinagu.  Photo courtesy of odecohn.blogspot.com

Celeo Alvarez Casildo and Garinagu. Photo courtesy of odecohn.blogspot.com

Below is video of a speech Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casildo made in Spain in 2011 where he urges civil society, governments and institutions to together attack the comparative disadvantage, exclusion, racial discrimination and impoverishment that Blacks in Latin America (Afro-Descendants) face in their communities.  I have not listened or watched this speech in its entirety but will at some point.

About CELEO ALVAREZ CASILDO

From the remote Garifuna village of Plaplaya in the La Mosquitia region of Honduras, Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casildo is known as one of the most vocal and visible advocates of Garifuna people as well as other Afro-descendants in Central America as well as throughout Latin America.

Celeo Alvarez Casildo on the right.  Photo courtesy of globalvisionofintegration.blogspot.com

Celeo Alvarez Casildo on the right. Photo courtesy of globalvisionofintegration.blogspot.com

As a youth, Celeo and his family moved to the metropolitan city of La Ceiba, Honduras seeking better opportunities in that poor country.  In La Ceiba, Celeo witnessed first hand how Black Hondurans as well as Indigenous Hondurans were consistently marginalized and denied access to opportunity.

Celeo Alvarez Casildo (center) in Panama in 2012.  Photo courtesy of odecohn.blogspot.com

Celeo Alvarez Casildo (center) in Panama in 2012. Photo courtesy of odecohn.blogspot.com

Celeo made a living shining shoes in Central Park.  He eventually earned a degree in Economics and while working in the Honduran healthcare industry, became the first black president of the Hospital Workers Union where he impacted the lives of many as a labor organizer.  After retiring from being a labor organizer he then began to focus on attacking the marginalization of Blacks and Indigenous People in Honduras that he witnessed growing up.

Celeo Alvarez Casildo.  Photo courtesy of paho.org

Celeo Alvarez Casildo. Photo courtesy of paho.org

Dr. Glenn A Chambers, Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University, in his biography of Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casido notes that,

“Throughout much of its history, Honduras has adamantly denied the very existence of African descendants in the country.  The motto of ODECO (Organization for Community and Ethnic Development), founded by Celeo Alvarez in 1992, ‘In search of voices that break the silence,’ speaks to this consistent denial by many Hondurans of the legacy of the African presence in the country.” 1

Garifuna Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo.  Photo courtesy of laprensa.hn

Garifuna Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo. Photo courtesy of laprensa.hn

Dr. Glenn A Chambers goes on to explain that “The organization founded by Celeo in order to promote the full economic development of communities of African descent in Honduras and their integration into all aspects of Honduran political, economic and cultural life has developed into the largest non-governmental organization in the region with connections to Garifuna communities throughout Central America. Celeo has also used ODECO as a platform over the years to fight discrimination, racism, xenophobia, marginalization, and poverty within the Garifuna and the indigenous communities throughout Central America.” 2

Garifuna Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo in Spain in 2011.  Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

Garifuna Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo in Spain in 2011. Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

According to Dr. Glenn A. Chambers, Celeo is also a leading figure in “the Organización Negra Centroamericana/Central American Black Organization (ONECA) which is a regional organization with networks in Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, and Nicaragua that advocates for the rights of Afro-Descendants in Central America that works for human rights, gender equality, and against racism and discrimination.  Community based programs focus on immediate priorities such as language and cultural identity retention, access to land and employment, empowerment of women, and integration into their respective nations. ” 3

Garifuna Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo in Spain 2011.  Photo courtesy of  casamerica.es

Garifuna Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo in Spain 2011. Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

A Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2008, Celeo has established an international reputation as one of the most prominent and respected individuals fighting for the rights of Blacks and Indigenous Peoples in Latin America.

There is more to discuss when it comes to Celeo Alvarez Casildo, but that will have to wait until I focus on him in another post.  For now, those who have the time should go and meet with this dynamic Garifuna Leader.

ABOUT The Garifuna People


The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.  From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men, 1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.   4

In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.

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GARIFUNA Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo To Host BRONX Meeting about Issues Impacting Garifuna People TODAY (September 27th 2014).  Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

GARIFUNA Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo To Host BRONX Meeting about Issues Impacting Garifuna People TODAY (September 27th 2014). Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

Notes:

  1. Dr. Glenn A. Chambers, biography of Celeo Alvarez Casildo in The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Bibliography. Franklin W. Knight and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds. (New York: Oxford University Press-forthcoming 2014).
  2. Dr. Glenn A. Chambers, biography of Celeo Alvarez Casildo in The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Bibliography. Franklin W. Knight and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds. (New York: Oxford University Press-forthcoming 2014).
  3. Dr. Glenn A. Chambers, biography of Celeo Alvarez Casildo in The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Bibliography. Franklin W. Knight and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds. (New York: Oxford University Press-forthcoming 2014)
  4. Nancie L. Gonzalez, “Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pg. 21

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