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June 17th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The National Front of Indigenous Peoples (FRENAPI) has issued a statement expressing their complete opposition to the development of hydroelectric projects in their territories.
The Front said that their rights are being ignored by the development of the hydroelectric projects, such as the Diquís project in the Southern Zone and projects planned in Talamanca and other areas. The Front said that indigenous groups were not consulted or informed of the projects.
“For indigenous peoples and their worldview, the water, land, air, rivers, forets, and natural resources are intertwined spiritually and are sacred,” read part of their statement. “…these resources should not be the subject of trade or business.”
FRENAPI held a meeting with indigenous groups in the Ngobës territories in Conte Burica and La Casona de Coto Brus, the Bribris of Salitre and Suretka de Talamanca, the Duchí of Turrialba, the Bratsí of Talamanca, the Malekus, and others, where they discussed the scope and damage caused by the projects.
FRENAPI says it has technical studies that prove the hydroelectric projects, such as Diquis, are and will continue to flood indigenous lands, destroy forests, affect biodiversity and displace communities.
They added that the projects affect a negative impact on their people, while only benefiting the business executives involved, and believe that Costa Rica should reconsider its model of energy development.
Several national and international conventions project the rights of indigenous people and their lands, including the Ley Indígena N°6172, Convention No. 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Costa Rica’s El Diquís project has been in the spotlight of controversy since 2006. In March 2011, with legal support from human rights groups, the Terraba indigenous community filed a lawsuit against the Costa Rican state utility, ICE, to protest the project.