The first festival of “Halangante Garinagu” took place on September 12 in Punta Gorda with the idea of protecting and strengthening Garifuna culture. Local Garifuna leaders feel that their culture needs more protection as its identity and purity is being increasingly under threat. While Punta Gorda hosts an annual April 12 Garifuna Landing celebration, the “Halangante Garinagu” is the first festival of its kind.
In the last five years, the Punta Gorda town has become less and less exclusively Garifuna. The ladino community has grown steadily in size and recently opened its evangelical church. Instead of the Garifuna language, Spanish is being heard more and more.
The east of Roatan is booming. There are new bed and breakfasts, bars and plenty of new homes and fixed up old ones. Punta Gorda town has received a paved, concrete road, for at least a portion of the community. Still, instead of the Central Government’s promise to pave the entire Punta Gorda road, only around 25% has been paved so far. About 600 meters of the road has been paved from the main east end road entrance to about 100 meters past the Cinco Hermanos Hotel.
During the “Halangante Garinagu” festival, five bands played music on a beach stage, contests for children and grownups were held, and a Garifuna landing on Roatan was re-enacted. Karla Leiva, coordinator of the carnival, said that the biggest help came from sponsors such as Galaxy, Gallo Mas Gallo, Bojangles and Sun Supermarket. According to Leiva, four other events will take place before the end of the year. [/private]