Ask the Nicaraguan government to protect indigenous communities and complete demarcation and titling of indigenous land. Follow the steps below to act now!
Despite, or perhaps because of, the Nicaraguan government’s progress in titling and demarcating indigenous land, tensions have risen between settler and indigenous communities, reaching the point of violence. In the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS) of the country, indigenous communities have found themselves in continuous direct competition for their land with Spanish-speaking Nicaraguan settlers, or colonists. They have also found themselves subject to escalating attacks and death threats from the settlers.
Since the election three years ago of President Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista government has moved to address indigenous land issues by implementing the promises made to the indigenous and Creole people of the Atlantic Coast Autonomous Regions. The rights of the Miskitu, Rama, and Mayagna-speaking peoples and the English-speaking Creole people of the Atlantic Coast were enshrined in the Autonomy Law passed by the first Sandinista government in the 1980s. During the 17 years of right-wing governments, this promise was not completed, as Spanish-speaking ranchers and colonists from the Pacific side of the country were encouraged by those governments (particularly that of President Arnoldo Aleman) to settle in the sparsely inhabited indigenous land in the Eastern half of the country. Since 2007, however, the Ortega administration has been working to survey and title indigenous lands. Spanish-speaking colonists angry with the process are increasingly resorting to violence in order to disrupt the demarcation and titling process. This is an attempt to prevent the indigenous land where they’ve settled from being returned to indigenous control.
The Rama and Creole territorial government in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS) has denounced death threats and attacks by the colonists within indigenous territory and demanded action from the national and regional governments.
Please support them by asking the Nicaraguan national and regional governments to act before there is a tragic loss of life.
While the government has made substantial strides in indigenous land titling for the Rama and Creole people within the municipalities of El Rama, Bluefields and Rio San Juan, the conflict between the mestizo settlers and the indigenous population continues to escalate. The technical teams surveying the boundaries of indigenous land titles have fled the region in fear for their lives due to settler death threats and destruction of their equipment.
The Rama and Creole territorial government denounced the death threats and vandalism that have taken place recently. They noted that the government team sent to demarcate indigenous land had been violently impeded from finishing its work. Armed colonist groups have destroyed demarcation equipment and even threatened those who allowed the technical teams to come close to their homes.
One night, 12 hooded and armed men dismembered a pig with the demarcation material and left a note calling the technical workers names and threatening their lives. This caused the workers to leave before finishing the job. Armed bands of colonists have burned and damaged indigenous homes and community buildings and threatened further violence.
Most recently, Pedro Gonzales, head of an armed settler group in the region of El Coco II, was quoted as stating, “We are going to terminate the Ramas.” and “I am going to hunt the Ramas like deer when they are not expecting it.” The Rama and Creole accuse Gonzalez and others of offering a bounty for Rama killings.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1) Please contact Nicaraguan Attorney General Hernan Estrada to urge the Nicaraguan government to arrest and prosecute any individuals threatening or committing violence against indigenous communities or individuals, provide security for indigenous communities, and to complete the demarcation and communal titling of indigenous lands. You can cut and paste the sample letter below.
2) Please also contact the RAAS Regional Council to ask that they secure the safety and physical integrity of the threatened indigenous communities. You may use the sample letter below.
1) Dr. Hernan Estrada
Procurador General de la República
Dear Attorney General Estrada,
I have been very encouraged by the work that your government has done to insure that indigenous lands are properly demarcated and titled. It is truly encouraging to see a nation that cares deeply for its Native populations.
Unfortunately, I was informed that recently your efforts to title indigenous land have been impeded by settlers in the region.
On Feb.9, I read in Radio La Primerisima that the Rama and Creole territorial government in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS) publicly denounced the threats and violent acts that have been committed against their communities. These groups have been threatened with being “hunted like deer” and have even seen some of their community buildings vandalized. Moreover, the threats and acts of vandalism perpetrated by the settlers have caused government technical groups’ work to cease their vital task of demarcating indigenous lands.
I urge the Nicaraguan government to take all legal measures to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of violence and death threats, to insure the security and physical integrity of indigenous communities and their residents, and to rapidly complete the demarcation and titling process.
City, State, Country
OR send him the same message in Spanish:
Dr. Hernan Estrada
Procurador General de la República
Estimado Dr. Estrada,
Me ha alentado el trabajo que su gobierno ha hecho para asegurar que las tierras indígenas sean demarcadas y tituladas. Me alegra saber de un país que le importe tanto su población indígena.
Desafortunadamente, me he informó que recientemente su esfuerzo de titular y demarcar los territorios indigenas ha sido impedido por los colonistas de la región.
El 9 de febrero, a través de Radio La Primerisima leí que el gobierno territorial Rama y Kriol denunció las amenazas de muerte y daños a la propiedad que ha sufrido desde hace casi un año. Han recibido amenazas, diciendoles que van a ser “cazados como venado cuando ellos menos lo esperan.” También sus posesiónes han sido destrozadas. Además, la destrucción y violencia perpetrada por los colonistas resultaron en una situación en que los técnicos han dejado de cumplir su tarea vital de demarcar los territorios indígenas.
Insto al gobierno de Nicaragua usar todos los medios disponibles y legales para investigar y procesar a los que perpetren violencia y lanzan amenazas de muerte para así asegurar la seguridad y integridad física de las comunidades indigenas y sus residentes, y también para poder cumplir rápidamente el proceso de demarcar y titular los territorios.
City, State, Country
2)South Atlantic Autonomous Regional Council
Esteemed Council Members,
I was informed that recently settler violence on indigenous land has disrupted demarcation efforts and endangered the lives and property of indigenous communities in the region.
On Feb. 9 the Rama and Kriol territorial government in the RAAS publicly denounced the threats and violent acts that have been committed against their communities. They have been threatened with being “hunted like deer” and have even seen some of their community buildings burned or vandalized. Moreover, the threats and acts of vandalism perpetrated by the settlers have caused government technical groups’ to cease their vital task of demarcating indigenous lands.
I urge the Regional Council to take all legal measures to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of violence and death threats, to insure the security and physical integrity of indigenous communities and their residents, and to rapidly complete the demarcation and communal titling process.
City, State, Country