By Jose Francisco Avila
As we commemorate the 18th anniversary of the Happy Land Social Club fire on
Despite many positive contributions to the social and economic fiber of
Furthermore, in a plea bargain that ended his trial after two days of testimony, the leaseholder, Jay Weiss, agreed to perform 50 hours of community service and to pay $60,000 to help build a community center for Hondurans who live in the
Unlike more established groups in the city like Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, hundreds of thousands of Colombians or even the relatively few Argentines, the Hondurans have established no landmarks of their presence. Over the years, they have often gathered in small civic groups, but those have tended to dissolve more quickly and easily than they have formed. 
In the year after the
As a result of FEDHONY’s failed effort, Mujeres Garifunas en Marcha, Inc. (MUGAMA) organized the Garifuna House Committee under the leadership of Ms Rose-Anne Tifre and Mrs. Lydia Hill, with the mission “To build a multi-purpose resource center in
In 2001, Maria Elena Maximo established a nonprofit organization, Jamalali Uagucha, to conduct a census of the Garifuna people living in
Jamalali’s practical cease of operations, has left a huge void in the provision of social services and advocacy for the Garifuna Immigrant Community. The lack of a Garifuna Center, has forced this growing immigrant population to meet in public places, such as Bill Rainey Park better known among the Garifunas, as Waporu and the Crotona Park strip located on Southern Blvd., popularly known as the “Trujillanos’ Park among the Garifunas.
These informal meeting places have caused concern among the neighbors who live in the area, who complain of noise, trash, and anti sanitary conditions, due to the large crowds. These concerns were expressed during the Community Board # 2’s general meeting on
The Happy Land Social Club tragedy and the void left by Jamalali Uagucha, are seen as turning points for the Garífuna Immigrant Community. In answer to these alarming conditions that beset their society, The Garifuna Coalition
The Garifuna Coalition understands that developing a donor base is essential to effective organizing and that it helps build a broad base of support within the community most committed to the issue it cares about. Therefore, it launched an Individual Donor Program to build a broad base of individual donors in the Garifuna Community; in addition, it has scheduled various fundraising activities during the upcoming months.
As we reflect on the greatest tragedy for the Garifuna Community in the United States and as we pay tribute to the 87 victims of the Happy Land Social Club Fire, it is my hope that we also experience renewal towards a future brimming with promise and hope by showing that we care about our community and want to make a positive difference in making the Garifuna Center a reality. Let’s not wait for another tragedy to happen, let us not fade back into invisibility! Let’s prove that WE can make!
 Associated Press, Pledge to Build Bronx Center, The New York Times, April 21, 1990
 Hevesi, Dennis, Leaseholder Admits Violation In Happy Land Nightclub Fire, The New York Times, May 7, 1992
 Goulden, Tim, Fire in the Bronx; Hondurans Lack Place to Grieve Over Fire, The New York Times, March 28, 1990
 Branen, Kate, Happy Land fire remembered, with empathy for Mali tragedy, The Bronx Beat, April 2, 2007
 Jones-Correa, Michael Between Two Nations: The Political Predicament of Latinos in New York City, Cornell University Press, 1998
 Kugel, Seth, Bronx UP Close; A Quest to Count the Descendants Of Islanders and Castaway Slaves, New York Time, August 5, 2001