This was originally posted on the Friendship Office of the Americas website.
Original Spanish version of this statement by the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) can be found on OFRANEH's blog.
Suggested background information:
- 'Porn King' Developer of Projects in Trujillo, translated from the Honduran newspaper La Prensa (March 7, 2011), with additional background articles by Rights Action
- Honduras, Open for Business (by John Perry, London Review of Books blog, May 18, 2011)
- A new city on the Mosquito Coast (by John Perry, Open Democracy, August 10, 2011)
- Two articles from the December 10, 2011 print edition of The Economist:
Garifuna Communities of Trujillo Take Legal Action Against Canadian Porn King
December 15, 2011
On Monday, December 13th, leaders from the communities of Cristales and Río Negro, part of the Municipality of Trujillo, accompanied by OFRANEH, presented a lawsuit to render null and void various fraudulent contracts for sales of community lands held by Canadian Randy Roy Jorgensen.
The majority of these transactions were carried out under pressure, offering derisible sums of money to victims in exchange for their homes in the neighbourhood known as Río Negro, where the Canadian intends to build a pier for Panamex cruise-ships under the name Banana Coast.
In addition to the fraud carried out against the inhabitants of Río Negro, adjacent lands belonging to the Garífuna community of Cristales, southwest of the City of Trujillo, have also been affected. These lands are known as "Campamento," and were also subject to fraudulent land sales favouring Randy Jorgensen.
Presence of the Garífuna People in Trujillo Bay
Garífuna people arrived to the island of Roatán, Honduras on April 12, 1797 following expulsion from the island of St. Vincent by the British, after having fought two consecutive wars in defense of the island, which was the last bastion of the Carib people (Kalinagu and Garinagu) in the Lesser Antilles.
The city of Trujillo was founded in 1524 and was later uninhabited between 1643 until shortly before the arrival of our people to Honduras. In 1901, then president Manuel Bonilla granted to the "dark" people of the neighbourhoods of Cristales and Río Negro, on the perimeter of the city, five thousand hectares of land southwest of the lands of Cristales and two thousand hectares in the vicinity of the Guaimoreto Laguna.
It was in 2007 that local intermediaries participated in illegal purchases on the part of the Porn King and in this way initiated the expulsion of the Garífuna from Trujillo Bay, a situation that our people have had to face in many areas of the territory we have peacefully and permanently occupied over the last two centuries.
The Porn King also acquired lands in the Garífuna communities of Santa Fe, San Antonio and Gualadulupe, acts that were denounced to the Ministry of the Attorney General before the 2009 coup d'état, without any intervention by the appropriate authorities to halt these illegal acts.
The Porn King and his Banana Coast
In 1904 the US writer O'Henry spent some time in Trujillo, where he wrote his book Cabbages and Kings, which takes place in the fictitious port of Coralio, based on the real port city of Trujillo. In the novel, O'Henry coined the term "banana republic," which he used to describe Honduras.
One century later, the Porn King appeared in Trujillo, appropriating the lands of the Garífuna people in order to build an empire under the name "Banana Coast." His acquisition methods and the current political climate of the country differ little from the colonialist techniques employed by the banana companies and the situation in Honduras at the turn of the twentieth century.
Jorgenson, in the midst of the political tragedy in Honduras in 2009, managed to quickly obtain environmental licenses to build in an area declared as a buffer zone for the Capiro and Calentura National Park (Parque Nacional Capiro y Calentura) and built villas on the iron-bearing hillsides facing the Caribbean Sea.
The Porn King has received a huge amount of support from Mr. Ramón Lobo Soso, the brother of President Porfirio Lobo, which has allowed him to cut through any red tape and avoid the opposition mounted by Garífuna communities against the pressure upon them and dispossession of their lands. On June 21 of this year, Jorgenson received a ‘special award’ from Lobo during a ministerial cabinet session in Trujillo.
The Canadian received financing from the Canadian Shield Fund, the controversial mining company Barrick Gold, and the company Canadian Oil and Gas, which provided funds to Life Vision Properties, the company under which the Porn King hides his name.
From the Banana Coast to Charter Cities
The coup d'état has allowed a series of neoliberal laws to be passed that are serving to reverse the scant progress gained over the last half century: the flexibilization of the labour market, the overprotection of foreign investment, and the most degrading form of neocolonialism: Charter (or Model) Cities.
US economist Paul Romer, preaching his gospel of charter cities, led the Madagascan government, under the now-deposed Ravalomanana, into the abyss at the beginning of 2009, with the announcement that two charter cities would be established on this African island. The Malagasy people revolted, resulting in the overthrow of Ravalomanana. In Honduras the story has played out in reverse. There was a coup d’état to support the neoliberal offensive, culminating in constitutional reform surrendering part of the national territory to foreign capital.
The shrewd Canadian businessman who, at one point, was reported in Honduras for pedophilia, has now, in the climate of powerlessness and lack of justice prevailing in the country, become one of the major promoters of the Charter City. The Lobo administration is withholding the information on the planned location of the charter city, which will include Trujillo for certain, and it will apparently extend along the coast from the Bay of Trujillo to Río Sico, right where the haven of Garífuna culture is located.
The disappearance of the Río Negro community (Trujillo) and the expulsion of the Garífuna people from Honduras
The Canadians seem intent on driving our people out of Honduras, and we have the sad case of Trujillo Bay as an example, only this time it will be right along the coast.
When the Honduran Congress held a special session in the city of Gracias, Lempira, with the aim of passing the statute providing for REDs (Regiones Especiales para el Desarrollo – Special Development Regions, or Charter Cities), the Canadian senator Gerry St Germain was present, along with several potential investors from that country.
The ease with which Jorgenson achieved his objective in Río Negro – a community which has almost entirely disappeared – and the way in which the current administration has sold out to foreign capital, we can safely say are a consequence of the coup d’état as well as of the deterioration in the respect for human rights, an indicator of Honduran failed state.
Unfortunately, the history of our country is plagued with leaders and politicians who have made themselves rich at the expense of national sovereignty. It so happens that it was exactly a century after the invasion of Honduras by Sam Zemurray and his sidekick Manuel Bonilla (January 1911) that the National Congress passed the legislation adopting Charter Cities (January 2011).
The Garífuna authorities of Cristales and Río Negro, in presenting the Porn King and his local henchmen with a lawsuit, are taking a step towards regaining what has been lost. It remains to be seen whether there is justice in Honduras, or whether the only result, as usual, will be the physical disappearance of the plaintiffs.
La Ceiba, Atlantida, 14 December 2011
OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras)
Organizacion Fraternal Negra Hondureña
Calle 19, #130.
La Ceiba, Atlantida,
telefax: +(504) 2443-2492
email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com