Thursday, June 26, 2008

Garifuna Reunion

Reprinted from Caribbean Net News

Garifuna Coalition plans reunion in St Vincent
Published on Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NEW YORK, USA: The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization is planning a Garifuna reunion in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009, as it celebrates Caribbean-American
Heritage Month and the contributions of Caribbean-Americans throughout the United States.

As descendants from shipwrecked slaves who sought refuge in mainland St Vincent, who intermarried with the Caribs and Arawaks, the Garifunas or Black Caribs, are part of the unique cultures and meltingpot of ethnicities that have their roots in the Caribbean. 211 years ago, everybody wondered if the Garifunas were going to survive as a people and live a long healthy life.

Two years after the paramount Garifuna Chief Joseph Chatoyer was killed on March 14, 1795, the Garifuna people were exiled from their native land of St Vincent to the island of Roatán, off the coast of Honduras from where they dispersed along the Atlantic coast of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Nicaragua.

However, 211 years later, not only have they survived but many have migrated to the United States and have become a vital part of New York City’s social and economic way of life for the past seven decades, while preserving their customs, cultural values and beliefs.

The Bronx is home to the largest Garifuna Community in the world, according to unofficial estimates, the Garifuna population exceeds 100,000, which is larger than the Garifuna population of Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua and any of the 53 Garifuna communities located in Honduras.

While the US Garifuna Diaspora has maintained links and connections with the Central American countries, such has not been the case with St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Therefore, In an effort to reestablish the link with their homeland of StVincent and the Grenadines, the Board of Directors of the Garifuna Coalition met with Cosmus Cozier, Consulate General of St Vincent and the Grenadines in New York to discuss their plan for a Garifuna reunion in St Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009.

"We are proud to be part of Caribbean-American Heritage Month and celebrate and join in recognizing the Caribbean Americans whose determination and hard work have helped make the United States a better place, while we look forward to the Garifuna Reunification in St Vincent.” said Rejil Solis, President of the Garifuna Coalition.