The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending the rights of Garifuna peoples in Honduras. Garifuna peoples are Afro-descendent and indigenous communities who have successfully resisted various threats – from slavery and colonialism, to current-day pressures of neoliberalism. OFRANEH’s work to defend Garifunas’ land and territorial rights is part of that long struggle for the human rights of Afro-descendent indigenous populations.
Created in 1979 to serve as a coordination space for 46 Garifuna communities in Honduras, OFRANEH works to protect Garifuna communities’ economic, social, and cultural rights in the states of Cortes, Atlántida, Colon, Gracias a Dios and Caribbean Bay Islands.
Garifuna communities are connected to both the land and the sea, as they sustain themselves through both fishing and farming. Land grabs for agrofuels (African Palm plantations) and for tourist resort development along the Atlantic coast seriously threaten their way of life. Their livelihoods are further impacted by rising sea levels and the increased frequency and severity of storms as a result of climate disruption.
OFRANEH brings together communities to meet these challenges head-on through a combination of direct action community organizing, legal strategies, promotion of Garifuna culture, and broader movement building. OFRANEH represents the Garifuna people in three legal cases through the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. As a leading Garifuna organization, it fosters alliances with peasants and Indigenous Peoples in Honduras and Central America. Through a network of Garifuna community radios, the organization promotes health and environmental education, supports the use of the Garifuna language, and promotes youth and women’s leadership development. The community radio network works to preserve the Garifuna culture, and is often used to coordinate community actions against the threats to the Garifunas’ ancestral territories.
In all of this work, OFRANEH prioritizes the leadership development of women and youth, through its coordination of designated structures within the organization such as the Organization of Hope of Garifuna Women in Honduras and the Youth of Honduras United in Defense of Territory and Culture. Both member groups participate in OFRANEH’s Strategy for Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change, whose goal is to mitigate the impacts of such events in the livelihoods of Garifuna communities through 25 rapid responses networks and development of adaptation strategies.