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News > Latin America

Abuses Against Indigenous People Reported in Costa Rica

  • NGOs visited the Salitre reservoir earlier this year, where violent clashes took place

    NGOs visited the Salitre reservoir earlier this year, where violent clashes took place | Photo: Coecoceiba

Published 16 July 2015

The document sheds light on the current issues, despite government efforts to highlight advances.

A new report issued Thursday by a group of Costa Rican nongovernmental organizations denounced serious ongoing abuses toward the country’s indigenous minority.

“Despite the passage of over four years and little in the way of fundamental changes, Costa Rica's claims that it is a new government with a new vision and a programme of activities with indigenous peoples. The results, however, only can be summarized as dialogue. The state's own periodic report confirms that it is all about dialogue. Indeed there have been no concrete results on substantive issues, ” reads the report.

The document explains that large swathes of land within indigenous reservoirs are being claimed by non-indigenous people, with complete government inaction.

“Illegal occupation of indigenous territories has been a serious and notorious problem since at least the 1960s. Yet, it has not been, and is not now, the subject of any meaningful or concerted remedial action. Indeed, the state tacitly approves of this illegal occupation despite the fact that a draft law that is intended to correct this situation has been pending before the legislature since 1995,” explains the report.

The nongovernmental organizations underscored the particular cases of the Diquis dam, where the government has been building a hydroelectric dam, and violence in the Salitre reservoir.

It was only on July 4, and after the United Nations raised concerns, that the government began an information and consultation process regarding the project. The hydroelectric dam would have an impact in 24 different indigenous reservoirs.

Earlier this year in Salitre, violent clashes between indigenous and non-indigenous people prompted the U.N. and other organizations to react.

RELATED: UN Urges Costa Rica to Stop Violence Against Indigenous People

According to Thursday’s report, the government's initiative of initiating dialogue has failed, to the point that discussion appears to be non-existent.

The nongovernmentals also documented violence against indigenous tribes in the Tiribe and Bribri reservoirs, located close to Salitre, in Puntarenas province.

The report will be reviewed by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
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