Native Americans and Central American blacks expressed their solidarity online for the murder of George Floyd, a black man killed by four policemen in Minnesota, United States. In Central America, Afro-descendants and indigenous communities are making their own suffering known due to racism and violent state forces, particularly in nations with a high percentage of white or mestizo population, such as Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Black Central Americans – especially the Garifuna and Creole communities – live largely on the Caribbean coast of the region. However, for centuries, their inclusion in Central American societies has been minimal, and even exclusive, according to historians. For example, black people were prohibited from emigrating to El Salvador from 1933 to the 1980s.
Paul Joseph López Oro, a doctoral student in the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas, affirms that the blacks of Central America are marginalized in the Central American regions where the “miscegenation“- people whose ancestry is mixed between whites and indigenous people – remains a predominant ideal.
Until today, indigenous and black people – often in the front line in defense of the environment – are stripped of their lands, harassed or killed. These crimes usually go unpunished.
Appeals for justice at home and abroad
Epsy Campbell Barr, Vice President of Costa Rica, condemned the assassinated George Floyd on May 30 and called on the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to write a special report on all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, afrophobia and the relative intolerance towards African American citizens. He also tweeted in support of the “Black Lives Matter” protests in the United States.
We cannot remain silent and be complicit in injustice, brutality and pain. I extend my deep admiration to all the people who march and raise the ideals of justice, equality and love #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatterCR 🇨🇷#GeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/15lAROvjDH
– Epsy Campbell Barr (@epsycampbell) June 4, 2020
Always in Costa Rica, Afro Costa Rica, a feminist and anti-racist organization, organized a meeting in Zoom to demonstrate against racism in the world.
– ameliarueda (@ameliarueda) June 3, 2020
In Guatemala, indigenous communities have suffered genocide at the hands of state forces during counterinsurgency operations carried out between 1960 and 1996. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations special rapporteur on indigenous rights, noted that Guatemala suffers from structural discrimination and exclusion of indigenous peoples. Those communities immediately expressed their solidarity with the events that are taking place in the United States and invited Guatemalans to reflect on racist dynamics within the country.
Sandra Batz, Guatemalan columnist and anthropologist from Guatemala, tweeted on May 27 about the death of George Floyd.
George Floyd was killed, racism was the motive for this crime.
Racialized people experience the abuse and impunity of racist states, which turn against our lives instead of protecting them.
– Sandra Xinico Batz (@XinicoSandra) May 27, 2020
A few days later, he wrote an opinion piece that begins with “racism kills”, and it states:
It is easier to perceive the racism of others, which is practiced in other countries, than their own, than that practiced as a nation against a majority native population, who are despised and murdered, yes, they are murdered.
Illustrator Sucely Puluc, a Mayan K'iche 'and Cacheiquel native, said she wants anti-racism movements to have lasting effects and not just be an online trend.
Geplaatst door Sucely Puluc op Woensdag 3 June 2020
Andrea Ixchíu, a defender of the human rights of the K'iche Mayans, created the solidarity posters with Black Live Matter.
The Garifuna of Honduras, descendants of Africans and Arawak Amerindians, suffer frequent attacks, according to OFRANEH, the Garifuna rights organization. Central American News collected the data:
In Honduras alone, 105 violent acts were committed against the Garifuna people between 2008 and 2019, including murders, judicial threats, forced displacement, sexual violence and disappearances, according to OFRANEH. That makes for nearly one violent occurrence per month (0.8) in a community of 43,111 people.
In Honduras alone, 105 violent acts were committed against the Garifuna people between 2008 and 2019, including killings, judicial threats, forced transfers, sexual violence, and disappearances, according to OFRANEH. This means that almost one violent episode occurs per month (0.8) in a community of 43 111 people.
For years OFRANEH, led by Miriam Miranda, has called for an end to the murders against the Garifuna people. Miranda also tweeted about the events in the United States:
The youth is calling for the barbarism that is committed against the blacks in that country that is said to be an example of “democracy” to stop. That is a racist, predatory and murderous system that has been sold across the planet as the best in the world to live on. pic.twitter.com/CkQtILgaOP
– Miriam Miranda (@baraudawaguchu) May 31, 2020