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  • Bribri territory

    Bribri territory | Photo: Forest People's Programme

Published 19 March 2019 (11 hours 5 minutes ago)

Bribri land rights defender, Sergio Rojas, was gunned down with 15 bullets, according to neighbors in Salitre territory in southern Costa Rica. 

A Costa Rican Indigenous Bribri land rights activist was shot and killed late Monday night in his home in Salitre territory.

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Indigenous land rights defender Sergio Rojas was assassinated by armed gunmen who shot the activist as many as 15 times at around 11:45 pm in his home, according to his neighbors, in southern Costa Rica.

Rojas was President of the Association for the Development of the Indigenous Territory of Salitre and coordinator of the National Front of Indigenous Peoples (FRENAP) in Costa Rica and was a staunch defender of the Bribri of Saltire Indigenous people who have been fighting for years to regain their rights to over 12,000 hectares of land in southern Costa Rica pledged to them by a 1938 government agreement, according to a 2014 teleSUR report.

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The Bribri and other Indigenous have managed to recuperate control of some of their native lands but have become targets of violence from those who oppose their rights and sovereignty. Last December men armed with guns and machetes held hostage two Bribri women and eight minors on land they had recuperated in Salitre territory.

According to the women, they called 911 but when police arrived they spoke “aggressively” toward them and asked for their land deeds, which the authorities claimed were invalid. The police made no effort to arrest the hostage takers who escaped the scene, according to the testimonies given to Tree People Program.

This wasn't the first time Rojas' life was threatened. In 2012, shortly after the Bribri gained back some of their lands, the FRENAP coordinator was shot at eight times by armed men, but escaped the shooting unscathed.


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