Saturday, November 14, 2015

Canadian Tourism and Real Estate Developer Appears Before Honduran Judge

On November 13, 2015, Canadian tourist and real estate investor, Randy Jorgensen appeared before a judge in Trujillo, Honduras. Jorgensen is being accused of illegal possession of approximately 81 manzanas of land where his company Life Vision Developments has developed the gated-community of Campa Vista. The lots inside Campa Vista are being sold to North Americans seeking vacation homes on the beautiful Caribbean coast of Honduras. Jorgensen illegally obtained the land through fraudulent sales of land inside the ancestral land title of the Garifuna community of Rio Negro and Cristales.

The Honduran judge overseeing the hearing ruled 'sobreseimiento provisional' or a provisional stay which means that there is insufficient evidence to proceed to trial but that the Honduran state representing the Garifuna community has five years to present further evidence. Given the serious accusations against Jorgensen and the threat that the gated-community Campa Vista presents to the cultural integrity and land rights of the Garifuna in Trujillo Bay, the community of Rio Negro and Cristales intend to appeal the decision. The Garifuna communities were not entirely surprised by the judge's decision on the case. Corruption and impunity is rampant in the Honduran judicial system and more likely than not to sway the ruling in favour of a foreign investor with strong political connections.

Over 150 Garifuna gathered outside of the courthouse as the hearing was underway. Marching first from the Cristales neighbourhood, we arrived to the courthouse shortly after the hearing begun. Drumming, singing, holding signs declaring their indigenous rights under the International Labour Organization (ILO) 169 convention, and a banner that read "Randy Roy Jorgensen out of Garifuna territory", the Garifuna communities showed their determination to defend their ancestral rights.

Photo caption: Banner reads "Randy Roy Jorgensen out of Garifuna territory." All photos by Karen Spring

Photo caption: Marching from the Garifuna neighbourhood of Cristales in Trujillo to the courthouse

Photo caption: Protesting outside of the courthouse

Photo caption: Canadian "Porn King" Randy Jorgensen charged with illegal possession of land arrives to the courthouse in Trujillo, Honduras.

Photo caption: Randy Jorgensen (left) waving obnoxiously to the Garifuna community waiting outside the courthouse to hear the results. Hernan Batres (middle), the General Manager of the cruise ship terminal constructed by Jorgensen's second company in Trujillo, Banana Coast, accompanied Jorgensen to the hearing.


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