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Sunday, April 5, 2020
Home Features While it is a good idea for Garifuna people in the diaspora...

While it is a good idea for Garifuna people in the diaspora to visit their motherland, St.Vincent and the Grenadines, it is a painful experience.

From the time our people were forcefully removed from Baliceaux, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, where they were imprisoned, tortured, killed and buried in 1797, to Roatan, Honduras, their lives have never been the same in the countries of Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize and the United States of America, where they live today.

This act of genocide that was committed by the British against us has never been addressed and forcefully challenged by our government in Saint Vincent & The Grenadines.

Why? Because of the French and British’s intention to do everything in their capacity to eradicate our people from this planet earth. Due to the fact that they failed to enslave, colonize our nation and subjugate us as slaves, they became hateful. We fought against these two powerful nations and were victorious in some of our wars against them, which led to treaties that were signed.

After we were dumped in a far, isolated place, they changed our original names and gave us Spanish names, which we bear up to this day. This was done to change our identities so we could not trace our families back to Saint Vincent.

What they failed to realize is that our physical removal from our motherland did not separate us from the souls and spirits of our ancestors who were left behind, travelled with us and remain with us up to this day.

When St. Vincent became independent on the 27th of October 1979, they had the power to declare that the descendants of those who were removed from St. Vincent by the British, who now live in the diaspora, are citizens of our nation and must be recognized as such.

All Garifuna people, from the time they were removed, were and continue to tell their children that St. Vincent is their motherland. It is not too late for the government of St. Vincent & The Grenadines to take this necessary and justifiable bold action in their parliament. This will be much appreciated by their brothers and sisters who were all left homeless by the British.

When our people were removed from their homeland, their citizenship status in the diaspora countries was not determined. When these countries started to partially acknowledge us, they treated us like strangers, despite the fact that we were born there. This human rights violation is happening in all the diaspora countries, especially in Honduras, where we have been killed on several occasions.

The government of St. Vincent has a legal obligation to its removed citizens, but has never condemned the way that their citizens are being treated in Honduras and the other diaspora countries.

This is not the way for a nation to treat our sons and daughters from our soil. The only way for this problem to be resolved, is for our brothers and sisters in St. Vincent & The Grenadines to apply public pressure on their government to grant us our citizenship rights in our motherland. Visiting St. Vincent & The Grenadines is no remedy for the ordeal, pain and suffering we have endured in the countries where we currently reside.

For me, it was seeing many people who look like me and did not know how we were related to each other. You can visit the cells up the hill where they were imprisoned before they were removed to the isolated island of Baliceaux.

Also, to visit Baliceaux and see some of my ancestors’ human skeletal remains surfacing from their burial ground as if they were animals. My people at home have lost their history, language and culture, and some of them believe most of the lies that the British taught them in their schools after they committed genocide against us.

Let us all come together as one people to reconnect for justice on behalf of our Garinagu people. We must commit ourselves to making sure that this heinous crime they committed against us not go unpunished.

Our people in St. Vincent & The Grenadines, along with our people who live in the diaspora, must all come together to seek justice for this gross human rights violation. Included in the resolution must be a proposal to make Baliceaux a Garifuna Memorial Site, with an ongoing cultural exchange program among the Garinagu people from the diaspora countries to meet there annually.

This will give our people the opportunity to reconnect with themselves, and our ancestors’ spirits for healing. Proposing to sell this historical site will bring more problems to the people and nation of St. Vincent because our ancestors are unhappy with the way they were treated prior to their deaths.

Some of our people must stop engaging themselves in trivial activities and plan real fundamental and significant activities to tell and live the true story of our resilient Garifuna nation.

How much longer must we wait for this injustice to end? We have gone from being an independent and resilient self-sufficient people, to a people who are now dependent on some of our governments. Many of us are hoping for our conditions to improve, while we are being deprived of the opportunities to acquire the basic necessities of life.

This unrealistic hope and dream will never materialize unless we get ahold of our own destinies and futures.

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