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September 10th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The mayor of Talamanca, Melvin Cordero requested permission from President Laura Chinchilla last month to permit incursions by the United States Southern Command within the Bribri Indigenous Territory, but the indigenous community and farmers say they are not comfortable with the plan.
In a letter to President Chinchilla, the mayor requested the establishment of a “humanitarian air bridge” with the U.S. Southern Command to facilitate access to the community by institutions such as the CCSS, Ministry of Education, the Institute for Rural Development, Ministry of Agriculture and the municipality.
The U.S. Southern Command is the U.S. military force in charge of security operations, surveillance, and counter-narcotics operations in more than 31 countries in the region. Its aim is to ensure U.S. interests in Latin America.
According to Cordero, the request is intended as a means by which to provide essential services to the communities of Alto Telire, but communities have expressed their opposition to military troops entering their territory.
In an interview with Radio Ceiba, native Bribri, Leonardo Buitrago said that such an action would threaten the public and would facilitate the entry of military troops into indigenous territory without consulting the communities involved.
Buitrago said he fears the measure because the U.S. Southern Command has helped dispossess indigenous people of their lands in other countries. Buitrago also questioned Cordero’s motives, saying that extreme poverty doesn’t exist in the community, which Cordero says is the primary motive for the request.
Farmer Wilbert Gomez said that an incursion by U.S. troops is unjustified, saying that humanitarian missions can be carried out by the communities themselves and various institutions responsible for the welfare of the population.
Gomez added, “military power is used to suppress the people, and to impose power over the people, but we love our sovereignty and freedom, and we believe that we ourselves have the ability to decide what we want.”