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Oct 19, 2021

Recognizing Garifuna Land Rights: Virtual Panel This Week

The issue of land rights, as they pertain to the indigenous community, is once again at the forefront of public discourse. Recent developments in Seine Bight Village, as well as a land dispute between the communities of Barranco and Midway, have prompted the National Garifuna Council to organize a panel discussion on Thursday. The purpose of the roundtable is to raise public awareness on the importance of land to the Garifuna way of life. The discussion will also look at the history of the Garinagu in the context of land rights and ownership. Of the eight communities that have been settled by the Garinagu, all, with the exception of Libertad and Georgetown, are coastal villages. Over the years, Hopkins and Seine Bight have grown to become major tourism destinations and, as such, the sale of prime real estate to foreign developers has become a concern within the Garifuna community. Earlier today, News Five spoke with executives of the NGC, ahead of Thursday’s virtual event.


Sheena Zuniga

Sheena Zuniga, Secretary, National Garifuna Council

“The objective of our panel discussion is just to inform and educate people our people and people that not only the Maya have rights but the Garifuna as well have rights and there are things that we can do to protect our indigenous communities and our Garifuna communities and it’s also to show our people the value that our land has. We’re trying to encourage our members not to sell their lands because we do realize that a lot of our Garifuna people are selling their lands to foreigners and we want them to understand that land is very valuable in this country and it is an asset that we should try to protect and not to give away. When you give away your property, you give away your right to that community, your ties to that community. So that’s one of the reasons we’re having this panel discussion.


Melissa Zuniga

Melissa Zuniga, Project Coordinator, NGC

“Yes, there are these issues happening in our communities at it pertains to land and land right, but we also want to look at, you know, the historical, the social, the economic, the agricultural impacts that it has had on our people. And so, that is one of the reasons that we’re taking this angle to holistically discuss this issue and to begin the conversation or to continue the conversation. We have been going to different communities and we have been doing educational awareness sessions with them so that the people in the communities can better understand the importance of land and the different resources, the value of land, and begin to work together to utilize the spaces that they have in their communities. So in addition to what Sheena mentioned, you know, we are encouraging people to not sell their land but we are also trying to provide alternatives and ways that they can use the land that they have in their communities.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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