Honduran Garifuna Leader, CELEO ALVAREZ CASILDO Passes Away in Honduras This Morning

 

Tegucigalpa, Honduras — Noted for his championing of the rights of Afro-Descendants, Honduran Garifuna Leader / Activist Celeo Alvarez Casildo passed away this morning in Honduras. May he Rest In Peace. Article in Spanish.  Click here to read notice about Celeo Alvarez Casildo’s passing in Spanish.

Copyright 2016 by Teofilo Colon Jr. (a.k.a. “Tio Teo”).  All Rights Reserved. Telephone: (646) 961-3674.


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Non-goverment Organization, ODECO, which he founded, released a statement.

ODECO Statement on the passing of it's founder, Celeo Alvarez Casildo.

ODECO Statement on the passing of it’s founder, Celeo Alvarez Casildo.

It states that Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casildo passed away on Monday, April 11th 2016 at 10:30 in the morning after a long battle with tongue cancer.

On April 11th, he will be viewed at the Espiritu Santu Funeral Home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  It is located on Suyapa Boulevard in Tegucigalpa.

On Tuesday, April 12th, he transferred to the city of La Ceiba, where a vigil will be held at the Amor Eterno Funeral Home as of 8am.

On Wednesday, April 13th, he will be received at the ODECO headquarters, also located in La Ceiba at the Satuye Cultural Center beginning at 8am.

His Funeral is scheduled for Thursday, April 14th at 2pm.  A Mass will be officiated at the San Isidro Cathedral.  He will be buried at the Barrio Mejia Grand Cemetery.

Here is a Honduran News report on Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casildo’s passing.  The news report is in Spanish.

Here is another Honduran News report on Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casildo’s body being brought to La Ceiba, Honduras.

Here is another Honduran News report on Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casildo’s passing.  The news report is in Spanish.

Here is a brief interview with his son, Celeo, who was at the Hospital as the announcement was made.  The interview is in Spanish.

According to the article, he passed away this morning in a hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  Last year, he was diagnosed with throat tongue cancer and had been fighting it ever since.  He passed at 10:45 this morning.  His remains will be shown at the headquarters of the organization he founded, ODECO, located in La Ceiba, Honduras.

Here is a news report on Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casildo’s body being transferred to La Ceiba, Honduras. Celeo’s son, Celeo Alvarez is interviewed regarding his father as well as the annual Celebrations of the arrival of the Garifuna people to Central America / Honduras, which take place on April 12th.  This year, the official ceremony is to take place in Sangrelaya, Honduras.  The report is in Spanish.

Here is another news report on Celeo Alvarez Casildo being mourned in La Ceiba, Honduras.  Interviewed is Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casildo’s wife, attorney Karen Vargas.  The news report is in Spanish.

Below is a video from a speech by Celeo Alvarez Casildo in Spain for Casa De America in June 2011.    The speech is in Spanish.  http://www.casamerica.es/prensa/los-afrodescendientes-iberoamericanos-toman-la-palabra-en-casa-de-america

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.

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.


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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.

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.” (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).

Here is a speech by Mr. Celeo Alvarez Casildo.  It is in Spanish, and in this speech, he talks about, among other things, the issue of being Afro-Descendant.

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.” (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).


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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. ” (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).

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.

Destaca por su defensa de los derechos de los Afrodescendientes, Lider Garífuna y Activista desde Honduras,  Celeo Alvarez Casildo falleció esta mañana en Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Que se Descansa en paz. Artículo en español.

http://www.latribuna.hn/2016/04/11/muere-lider-garifuna-hondureno-celeo-alvarez-casildo/

Video de Celeo Alvarez Casildo en España en 2011.  El video es en español.

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.  2


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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, namely the port town of Trujillo, Honduras in May 1797; the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribbean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.  Finally, Garifuna People have also migrated to the United States of America where generations have settled in cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Despite their mainly Spanish surnames, their culture and history are distinct from other Afro-American and Latino ethnic groups and it’s important to keep that in mind.


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Honduran Garifuna Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo. Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

Honduran Garifuna Leader Celeo Alvarez Casildo. Photo courtesy of casamerica.es

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