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.