Farmers armed with guns and rocks invade Costa Rica indigenous reserve

July 9th, 2014 (ISH) A group of about 80 farmers armed with guns and rocks invaded Costa Rica’s southeastern indigenous territory of Salitre last weekend, forcing the native residents to flee into the mountains.

The non-indigenous farmers, who illegally occupy areas in the Bribrí indigenous reserve outside Buenos Aires, in the province of Puntarenas, allegedly attacked the settlement a week after members of the community reoccupied land where they had built farms.

They also burned residences and blocked roads.

Costa Rica’s Indigenous Law 6172 establishes the rights of indigenous people to reclaim land in traditionally indigenous areas, including the 12,700-hectare Salitre territory.

Bribrí residents have claimed 75 percent of the land in Salitre, according to the daily La Nación.

Presidency Vice-Minister Ana Gabriel Zúñiga, who has been leading mediation between the indigenous and non-indigenous groups for the last two weeks, arrived at Salitre on July 6 to meet with police and representatives of both sides.

On July 7, the United Nations office in San José released a statement urging the Costa Rican government to resolve the issue quickly and peacefully.

Minor additional editing by Inside Costa Rica staff.

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    • NorthendFool

      I hope my question doesnt appear to be stupid but who has title to this land? Documentation? We now know who has possession. Truly more nonsense from a stumbling bureaucratic socialist attitude by the bleeding hearts of the corrupt government who has sold out the Indians many years ago. This problem has festered forever and once again another administration will look at it, appoint someone, create committees and wait and wait and wait for meaningless reports that are suppose to resolve this issue. Dont hold your breath. In CR nothing is ever resolved. The powers that be in SJ consider the rest of the country to be worthless and not worthy of their time and effort. Nothing new here.

    • expatin paradise

      The indigenous people have the right to occupy the land. The Costa Rican government should defend that right. While the government has no army, there are police of various descriptions who are trained in military tactics and equipped with assault weapons. If necessary, these officers should be deployed to protect the indigenous people.

    • jerry6665

      dear northend,
      ‘indigenous people’ by virtue of the definition of the words, tells you who was there first and therefore, who should have rights to the land. because some group wrests something away from a weaker lot doesn’t mean the attackers then own the property. so, bleeding hearts here does not apply.

      the government of costa rica has the responsibility and the right to defend the indigenous people’s stake in their own land. doh!

    • Frank Castle

      “Power comes from the barrel of a gun.” One of the only things I agree with Chairman Mao about. If the Indigenous people whose land this is was armed, the interlopers might have had to leave because they wouldn’t want to face bullets flying back at them. Just a thought.