Latin America & Caribbean

Honduran held in Mexican jail returns home

Angel Amilcar Colon Quevedo speaks during a press conference in Mexico City on October 17, 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Colon said "I was mistreated by the Mexican authorities because they thought my organisation was a drug cartel."

A Honduran migrant who was jailed for more than five years by Mexican police is expected to arrive in his home country on Sunday.

Angel Amilcar Colon Quevedo belongs to the Garifuna community, descended from African slaves and indigenous groups.

He was picked up in 2009 by police in Tijuana in Mexico as he tried to across the border into the United States.

Human rights organisations say Mr Colon was tortured and detained on the basis of his ethnicity.

Mr Colon was released in mid-October but stayed on in Mexico to publicise the treatment he had received.

International human rights organisations worked alongside local rights campaigners to release him.

"I am an example of thousands of people who are in jail today and who do not have anyone defending them." said Mr Colon.

He said he had been tortured by police and charged after he confessed under torture to being a member of a criminal gang.

He had later retracted his confession but his complaints were ignored.

Mr Colon said his mistreatment began after he told the police he was the former president of the Organisation for Negro Brotherhood of Honduras - an organisation representing the Garifuna people.

He says he was kept in a high security prison with little food, water and medical attention and regularly beaten.

The Garifuna

The black communities living on the Caribbean coast of Central America are commonly called Garifuna or Black Carib, or as they refer to themselves, Garinagu.

Over the last three centuries, in spite of many migrations, re-settlements and interactions with Indians, British, French and Spanish, they have preserved much of the culture from their two main branches of ancestry.

The Garinagu are the descendants of Caribs Indians and Black African slaves. The Caribs were originally indigenous peoples from South America.

A 1974 census of the Garifuna population estimated it to be around 77,000 people, in 51 communities, most of them on the Caribbean shores of Honduras.

The Garifuna language, agriculture, and religion remain similar to those found among their ancestors from the Amazon, while their dances, music and artistic heritage shows a strong African influence.

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