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Costa Rican Indigenous Rights Defender Shot 15 Times, Killed

teleSUR | March 19, 2019

A Costa Rican Indigenous Bribri land rights activist was shot and killed late Monday night in his home in Salitre territory.

Indigenous land rights defender Sergio Rojas was assassinated by armed gunmen who shot the activist as many as 15 times at around 11:45 pm in his home, according to his neighbors, in southern Costa Rica.

Rojas was President of the Association for the Development of the Indigenous Territory of Salitre and coordinator of the National Front of Indigenous Peoples (FRENAP) in Costa Rica and was a staunch defender of the Bribri of Saltire Indigenous people who have been fighting for years to regain their rights to over 12,000 hectares of land in southern Costa Rica pledged to them by a 1938 government agreement, according to a 2014 teleSUR report.

The Bribri and other Indigenous have managed to recuperate control of some of their native lands but have become targets of violence from those who oppose their rights and sovereignty. Last December men armed with guns and machetes held hostage two Bribri women and eight minors on land they had recuperated in Salitre territory.

According to the women, they called 911 but when police arrived they spoke “aggressively” toward them and asked for their land deeds, which the authorities claimed were invalid. The police made no effort to arrest the hostage takers who escaped the scene, according to the testimonies given to Tree People Program.

This wasn’t the first time Rojas’ life was threatened. In 2012, shortly after the Bribri gained back some of their lands, the FRENAP coordinator was shot at eight times by armed men, but escaped the shooting unscathed.

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

States of hope and states of concern

By Bjorn Hilt | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | January 11, 2016

At the UN General assembly last fall there was an essential vote on the future of mankind. Resolution number A/RES/70/33 calling for the international society to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations had been submitted by Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Ireland, Kenya, Lichtenstein, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. For that, these countries deserve our deep respect and gratitude. The resolution reminds us that all the peoples of  the world have a vital interest in the success of nuclear disarmament negotiations, that all states have the right to participate in disarmament negotiations, and, at the same time, declares support for the UN Secretary – General’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament.

The resolution reiterates the universal objective that remains the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons, and emphasizes the importance of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive and constructive manner, for the advancement of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. The resolution calls on the UN to establish an Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of willing and responsible states to bring the negotiations on nuclear disarmament forward in this spirit.

When voted upon at the UNGA a month ago, on December 7, 2015, there was a huge majority of states (75 %) that supported the resolution, namely 138 of the 184 member states that were present. Most of them are from the global south, with majorities in Latin-America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. After having shown such courage and wisdom, they all deserve to be named among the states of hope, states that want to sustain mankind on earth.

Only 12 states voted against the resolution. Guess who they are: China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States. What is wrong with them? Well, they are either nuclear-armed states or among the new NATO member states. They are the states of concern in today’s world. It is hypocritical that states that claim to be the protectors of freedom, democracy, and humanity constitute a small minority that refuse to enter into multilateral, inclusive, interactive and constructive negotiations to free the world from nuclear weapons. Among the three other nuclear-armed states, India and Pakistan had the civility to abstain, while the DPRK was the only one to vote “yes.”

Despite the reactionary, dangerous, and irresponsible position of the 12 states of concern and the tepid attitude of the abstainers, the OEWG was established by an overwhelming majority of the UNGA. The OEWG will convene in Geneva for 15 working days during the first half of 2016. The OEWG has no mandate to negotiate treaties to free the world of the inhuman nuclear weapons, but has clearly been asked to discuss and show how it can be achieved. Surely, the nations of hope that voted in favor of the OEWG will take part in the work. We can hope that at least some of the states of concern and some of the abstainers come to their senses and take part in this essential work for the future of mankind.

Participation in the OEWG is open for everyone and blockable by none. No matter what the states of concern do or don’t do, there is good reason to trust that the vast majority of nations of hope together with civil society from all over in the fall will present an outcome to the UNGA that will turn our common dream of a world free of nuclear weapons into a reality—perhaps sooner that we dare to believe.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Costa Rica: State to Compensate Nemagon Victims

Weekly News Update on the Americas | December 8, 2014

A decree by Costa Rican president Luis Guillermo Solís authorizing payments to former banana workers sickened by the pesticide Nemagon became official on Dec. 1 with the measure’s publication in the government’s gazette. Under the decree the government’s National Insurance Institute (INS) will pay out from 25% to 100% of the medical bills for workers who suffered physical or psychological damage from Nemagon, with the percentage based on their years of exposure to the pesticide. The decree currently covers 13,925 former banana workers; cases are pending for 9,233 of the workers’ children and 1,742 of the workers’ spouses. More than 11,000 other applications were dismissed.

Nemagon is a brand name for dibromochloropropane (DBCP), a chemical known to cause sterility, cancer, miscarriages, genetic deformities and other health problems. It was formerly in wide use in Central American banana fields; it was applied in Costa Rica from 1967 until the government banned the chemical’s importation in 1979. Affected Central American banana workers have been demanding compensation for decades. Costa Rica passed a compensation law in September 2001 but without setting up a mechanism for paying the workers. Some 780 Costa Ricans already won a separate settlement in 2011 from California-based fruit and vegetable producer Dole Food Company, Inc., which began making payments in September 2012 [see Update #1144]. The agreement with Dole also covered 3,157 Nicaraguans and 1,000 Hondurans. (La Nación (Costa Rica) 12/2/14; Tico Times 12/3/14)

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Costa Rica: Indigenous Communities Reject Proposed US Army Incursion

By Kahina Boudarène | The Argentina Independent | September 12, 2013

Indigenous people and farmers from the canton of Talamanca rejected their mayor’s demand to allow incursions by the United States Southern Command within the Bribri Indigenous Territory.

In a letter to Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, Talamanca’s mayor Melvin Cordero asked for the establishment of a “humanitarian air bridge” with the US organisation to facilitate access to the territory by institutions such as the Social Welfare Fund, the Ministry of Education, the Institute of Rural Development, the National Production Council, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the municipality.

Cordero stated that this request is intended as a means to provide essential services to the communities of Alto Telire. However, Bribri indigenous leader Leonardo Buitrago declared that this argument is questionable as there is no extreme poverty in Talamanca, the main reason quoted by the mayor.

According to Buitrago, this operation would put the population in danger and would facilitate the entry of military troops into indigenous territory without consulting the concerned communities.

Farmer Wilbert Gomez from Sixaola also considered that these proposed incursions are unjustified, stating that humanitarian missions could be carried out by the communities themselves along with the institutions in charge of protecting the population. “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.”

The US Southern Command, which aim is to protect US interests in Latin America -such as its access to the Panama Canal- is in charge of security, surveillance, and counter-narcotics operations in more than 31 countries. Its estimated number of soldiers is 24,000.

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Costa Rica announces plans to close its zoos and release animals from captivity

By Stephen Messenger | treehugger | August 2, 2013
monkey looking up photo

CC BY 2.0 Frontierofficial

What the tropical nation of Costa Rica lacks in size, it more than makes up for in a wealth of biodiversity. Despite occupying just 0.03% of the planet’s surface, the region’s lush forests are home to an incredible 500 thousand unique organisms — representing over 4% of all the known species on Earth. For the hundreds of animals held captive in the country’s zoos, however, that hotbed of life had been replaced by the cold bars of a cage.

But now, in a remarkable push to restore natural order for all its animal inhabitants, the Costa Rican government has announced plans to close its zoos, freeing creatures from their long captivity.

“We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” said Environment Minister René Castro. “We don’t want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”

The closures will take effect in March 2014, when the government’s contract with the organization that operates its two zoos is set to expire — a move that Castro says reflects “a change of environmental conscience among Costa Ricans.” The facilities which now house captive animals, Simon Bolivar Zoo and the Santa Ana Conservation Center, will be then transformed into urban parks or gardens where wildlife can visit and live freely if they so choose.


kansasphoto/CC BY 2.0

As for the many birds, mammals, reptiles and insects on display today, the government is working to find them more appropriate homes. It is believed that many of these animals will be able to be relocated within the nation’s vast forest preserves, with those deemed unsuited for release being sent to live out their days under the care of wildlife sanctuaries and rescue centers.

Costa Rica’s move to shutter its zoos comes on the heels of other recent legislation aimed at protecting animals from a life in captivity. Earlier this year, India became the largest nation to ban the exploitation of dolphins, joining the ranks of Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile. In the United States, the keeping of captive chimpanzees will soon be strictly limited as they are likely candidates for protection from the Endangered Species Act.


Wikipedia/CC BY 2.0

Still, despite the efforts of some animal-right groups which see zoo life as inherently inhumane, zoo closures in other parts of the world still seem a long way off. Quietly though, a paradigm shift may already be underway as popular thinking begins to consider a kinship and our shared fate with the natural world around us and not merely a dominion over it.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment