Mirna Teresa Suazo Martínez was part of the Garifuna (Afro-descendent and Indigenous) Masca community, living on the North Caribbean coast of Honduras. She was a community leader and a fervent defender of the Indigenous territory, a land that was violated when the National Agrarian Institute of Honduras gave territorial licenses to people outside of the community.
This deplorable deed resulted in repeated harassment, abuse and violence against the Masca, where economic interests of different groups met those of Honduran armed forces and authorities. According to the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), the strategy of these groups is to evict and exterminate the Indigenous population.
“Masca, the Garifuna community located next to the Cuyamel Valley, is part of the area of influence of one of the supposed model cities, a situation that has triggered territorial pressures along the Garifuna coast.” - OFRANEH, 8 September 2019
Mirna Teresa, president of the Board of Trustees of the Masca Community in Omoa, was also firmly rejecting the construction of two hydroelectric plants on the river that carries the same name as her community, Masca.
“The Garífuna community attributes the worsening of the situation in their region to their opposition to tourist exploitation, the monoculture of African palm and drug trafficking, at the same time that it seeks to build an alternative life through the cultivation of coconut and other products for self-consumption.” - Voces Feministas, 10 September 2019
Mirna Teresa was murdered on 8 September 2019 in her Restaurant “Champa los Gemelos”.
She was one of six Garifuna women defenders murdered between September and October 2019 alone. According to OFRANEH, there was no investigation by the authorities into these crimes.
“In the case of the Garífuna communities, a large part of the homicides are related to land tenure and land management. However, squabbles between organized crime have resulted in murders, such as the recent ones in Santa Rosa de Aguán.” - OFRANEH, 8 September 2019