I write to express my concern that the World Bank is supporting the Tela Bay Tourism Project in the North of Honduras, which has had extremely negative impacts on Indigenous Garifuna communities in Tela Bay, includiong Barra Vieja, Miami, Tornabe, San Juan Tela, La Ensenada and Triunfo de la Cruz. We urge you to demand accountability from the development banks who are funding this project.
The Tela Bay Tourism Project is an initiative to promote tourism in the Tela Bay, financed by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It consists of many components, including a mega-resort complex, three national parks, marine ecosystem management, and promotion of investments in tourism infrastructure such as hotels, resorts and real estate developments.
All these activities impact the Garifuna communities of the region who have not benefited from investments; rather, they have been severely affected by the theft of their lands and degradation of livelihoods as a result of the grabbing of agricultural lands and dispossession and degradation of fishing areas. This has caused an economic crisis among Garifuna families forcing them to migrate in search of survival, mainly to the United States, a phenomenon that has worsened severely in recent years and which represents a serious threat against the cultural survival of Garifuna peoples.
The World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank has provided loans and technical support to the government of Honduras to promote the Tela Bay Tourism Project, and the latter supported the initial investment in a mega-resort complex, a public-private partnership. The World Bank has focused on promoting the restructuring of the systems of land registration and administration through programs that affect the land rights of Garifuna communities, and has promoted the management of natural parks and marine habitats of the Garifuna territory by outsiders.
The Tela Bay Tourism Project is not the first development project to negatively impact the Garifuna peoples. On January 3, 2006 the Garifuna Federation OFRANEH filed a complaint with the Inspection Panel of the World Bank regarding Honduran Land Administration Project and the Panel found merit to a number of issues, including that the project could contribute to the demise of titles and claims to collective lands held by the Garifuna and Indigenous peoples. However, the World Bank administration took no action to investigate or correct the violations experienced by the Garifuna communities or other Indigenous peoples of Honduras.
The very development projects promoted to improve the lives of Garifuna families are instead generating poverty and violence, displacing entire communities and forcing people to migrate to the United States, threatening the cultural survival of the Garifuna people and their most fundamental rights. Tens of thousands of hectares of Garifuna land has been stolen.
In the 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, the U.S. Congress expressed important support for the obligation of the World Bank to redress human rights violations related to programs it has supported. Please support the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras demand for an investigation of the violations of Garifuna rights related to the Tela Bay Tourism Project.