Garifuna Youth Call on Legislators to Change in US Foreign Policy to Central America

PRESS STATEMENT

For Immediate Release

Garifuna Youth Call on Legislators to Change in US Foreign Policy to Central America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Amy Shannon: ashannon@alianzaamericas.org
Yancy Nuñez: ynunez@alianzaamericas.org

Youth member delegation of ONECA and Casa Yurumein will also advocate for permanent solutions for TPS/DACA/DED beneficiaries and in support of common sense policies for asylum seekers.

Chicago, April 10, 2019 A delegation of Garifuna (Afro-Central American) youth leaders from New York City, will visit members of Congress on April 12, in Washington, DC.  These young leaders will represent The Black Central America Organization (known by its initials in Spanish as ONECA & Casa Yurumein in the Bronx, both of which are organizational members of Alianza Americas.  While the Trump Administration continues its unrelenting assault on immigrants through harsh policies and rhetoric, this delegation will press members of Congress to seek forward-thinking solutions to the humanitarian crises at our borders, ongoing political instability and violence in Central America, and pending cancellation of permanent protections for TPS, DACA, and DED holders

The delegation will bring the particular perspective of the Garífuna community in Honduras,  which has an historical and ongoing experience of political repression, economic and social discrimination, violence and land grabs.  Unsurprisingly, Garifuna youth are fleeing from the region.  According to United Nations, a young person has been murdered every day in Honduras between 2009 and 2016.

This youth delegation represents a unique opportunity to educate policy-makers on pressing issues in the region, and give the next generation of migrant leaders a platform to share their stories and solutions on behalf of their communities.  

The group includes two high school seniors- Nelson who is 18, and Keyla who is 17 years old. Nelson wants to become a chef and share about the Garifuna culture through food. “Since I was a young boy I have been good with creating things with my hands,” he confides. “Some day I want to be a restaurant owner, a place where I can inspire other kids to stay in school.” Nelson was separated from his mother for more than 3 years, when she came to the U.S. seeking a better future for him and his three sisters “I wanted to be with my mother, it was a true challenge to make it without my mom, I missed her” Nelson says recalling his life in Limon, Colon.

Keyla, found community at Casa Yurumein in the heart of the South Bronx. In 2014 she learned about Miss Garifuna a contest for young girls where they learn about the Garifuna language, music, dance, costumes, and spirituality; all contestants proudly represent the city they or their parents were born, “I immediately connected with the Miss Garifuna message, I felt more proud of my heritage, of representing Tela in the Bronx!” She worries and feels sad to know that other girls and women like her seeking asylum are currently experiencing human rights violations along the migration corridor, “I am lucky that I made it unharmed, but others are raped, killed and their dreams of a better life won’t come true, this is why I am committed to become a leader and that is why I support the work of Casa Yurumein”, say Keyla who wants to become an immigration lawyer to support others in need of legal representation. “I also want to create more support so that women can overcome the fear of violence, all kinds of violence against women”

In this delegation will participate Mirtha Colon, known activist for rights of Honduran garifuna people, president of ONECA and secretary of the Alianza America’s Board of Directors

For press inquiries

Press members can coordinate interviews with Yanira Arias to the email yarias@alianzaamericas.org and to the phone (917) 5751 124

The Black Central America Organization (known in Spanish as ONECA) is a network of afro-descendent organizations based in Central America and in U.S.  Founded in Dangriga, Belize in 1995, ONECA serves as a unifying space for afro-descendent civil society groups and carries out annual member assemblies each year, alternating among the countries where its members are located: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the United States of America.

Casa Yurumein is a Garifuna non-profit organization based in the Bronx. Yurumein is the Garifuna word for St. Vincent; the ancestral homeland of the Garifuna People. Casa Yurumein serves as a cultural and community hub where the Garifuna meet to celebrate their roots, discuss pressing issues and identify opportunities for civic engagement in the U.S. and in Central America.

Alianza Americas is a network of 50 immigrant-led organizations representing more than 100,000 families across the United States. It is the only US-based organization rooted in Latino and Caribbean immigrant communities that works transnationally to create an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable way of life. Learn more at alianzaamericas.org

XXX