The main legislation relevant to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage includes the Constitutional Law (Decree Act No. 131 of 1982), which protects original expressions of national folk, popular art and crafts (Arts.172 and 173); the Cultural Heritage Protection Law (Decree Act No. 220-97), which declares all the cultural demonstrations of living indigenous people to be cultural heritage (Art. 2); and the Fundamental Education Law (Decree no. 262-2011), which stipulates respect for and the stimulus of intercultural and multi-cultural values (Art.13). Overall responsibility for intangible cultural heritage safeguarding and management rests with the Director General of Popular Culture within the Secretaría de Estado en el Despacho de Cultura, Artes y Deportes (SCAD, State Secretariat of Culture, Arts and Sports). The Secretaría de Estado en los Despachos de Pueblos Indígenas y Afro hondureños (SEDINAFROH, State Secretariat of Indigenous and Afro-Descendants People), created in 2010, is involved in the direct management of intangible cultural heritage, with the participation and support of cultural communities.
Training and capacity building in intangible cultural heritage management involve not only officials but also communities. UNESCO has provided support for the training of technical staff in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage from the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Sports, National Archive, the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia (IHAH, Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History) and the Honduran Institute of Inter-American Culture. The IHAH has also organized training in the identification and inventorying of intangible cultural heritage aimed at raising awareness in communities about making their own local inventories. Other bodies involved in training concerning various aspects of intangible cultural heritage include the Dirección General de Educación Intercultural Multilingüe (DIGEIM, Department of Intercultural Multilingual Education); the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (UNAH, National Autonomous University of Honduras); the Universidad Pedagógica Nacional Francisco Morazán (UPNFM, Francisco Morazán National Pedagogical University); and the Instituto Hondureño de Turismo (IHT, Honduran Institute of Tourism).
The Archivo Nacional de Honduras (ANH, National Archive of Honduras) is in charge of holding and conserving the country’s historic documentation collection, which is located in the Centro Documental de Investigaciones Histórica de Honduras (CDIHH, Historic Documentary Investigation Centre). This can be accessed through personal visits and online. The IHAH also holds a Cultural Census on Intangible Cultural Heritage (undertaken in 2001) in its Ethno-Historical Archive (AE). The AE has gathered information on gastronomy, dance, traditional festivities, crafts, etc., from all of Honduras’ 18 Departments as part of a documentary management process. The IHAH has catalogued intangible cultural manifestations associated with public and private spaces in cities or towns with important cultural sites. Documentation relating to intangible cultural heritage is also held by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Sports and the UNAH and is generally accessible through their websites and publications (books, booklets, posters, brochures etc.).
As yet, Honduras has not undertaken any inventorying of intangible cultural heritage although some relevant information has been gathered in other forms. For example, a Proyecto de Inventarios de Bienes Culturales Inmuebles de Honduras (PIBICH, Cultural Properties Inventory Project) was conducted (2008-2011) with the sponsorship of the Spanish Cooperation Agency, the Association of Municipalities of Honduras (AMONH) and the IHAH. During this process, they undertook anthropological research into each town and included information on intangible cultural heritage in these inventories, but without any specific field for intangible cultural heritage. In addition, the IHAH has recorded intangible cultural heritage events related to the religious beliefs of the Catholic population and ethnographic research techniques were applied among communities in Central and Western Honduras (2009-2010). These identified ceremonies, oral traditions and memories that are performed as part of a syncretic popular religion fusing elements of Spanish and Indigenous culture. The Department of Culture, Arts and Sports (SCAD) holds specific records about intangible cultural heritage.
As far as measures to promote the function of intangible cultural heritage in society are concerned, intangible cultural heritage safeguarding issues have been integrated into the work plans of relevant institutions. For example: in the ‘Cultural Guards’ Training Programme for Park Rangers (by IHAH since 2009), about 270 people from 11 departments of Honduras have been trained as local heritage managers; and training sessions have been offered by the Honduran Institute of Tourism for the Garifuna people in two municipalities. Among other promotional and dissemination activities, SEDINAFROH hosts a radio programme that promotes indigenous and Afro-Honduran languages and African Heritage Month is celebrated annually with the help of SEDINAFROH, generally involving promotional activities (seminars, workshops, exhibitions and awareness-raising campaigns) on aspects of Afro-descendant cultures (gastronomy, language, music, religious and magical African spells).
Efforts to address intangible cultural heritage in education include a contextual Intercultural Bilingual Education course (EIB) created by the DIGEIM aimed at children of Indigenous and African descent, through the development of educational materials. It involves the following training programmes: EIB projects in around 79 institutions located in Indigenous and Afro-Honduran communities; teacher training in EIB methodology in these communities; training trainers in the Teachers School training centre; and creating an organization for training members of Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities to teach schoolchildren in their native language. At the higher education level, intangible cultural heritage is included in Anthropology and History courses at the UNAH. There are several non-formal educational and training programmes within the communities and groups concerned.
Among the examples of bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, in 2011 Honduras hosted an Ibero-American Seminar on ‘The Intangible Heritage, Criteria and Methodologies for Protection and Dissemination’. This was organized with funding from the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID) and representatives from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Spain. SEDINAFROH has signed bilateral agreements related to the management of cultural heritage in general (including specific aspects of intangible cultural heritage), with Florida International University (FIU) and the Ibero-American University Foundation (FUNIBER).
Honduras has one element on the Representative List: The language, dance and music of the Garifuna (incorporated in 2008, having been proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001). This multinational inscription (with Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua) has helped to disseminate Garifuna culture and has made Hondurans generally more aware of their intangible cultural heritage. However, although bearers consider inscription to be a source of pride, they are also aware that it is a challenge to keep these practices alive and that they must fight against excessive trivialization and commercialization. Information for the present report on the element was provided by Garifuna community organizations and channelled through representatives of the Organización de Desarrollo Étnico Comunitario (ODECO, Ethnic Community Development Organization) and the Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH, Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras). Interviews were also conducted with two Garifuna communities and regular meetings were held between officials and representatives of communities and Garifuna organizations.