Friends of the Earth International stands in solidarity with Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC) in denouncing the murder of Jehry Rivera Rivera, an indigenous leader from the Naso Bröran people in Costa Rica, on 24 February 2020. Jehry Rivera fought for indigenous autonomy in the face of land usurpers and extractive projects such as the Diquís Hydroelectric Project which was negatively affecting the community.
On 23 February, the Indigenous People issued a warning following the intrusion of non-indigenous armed people and intimidation of the Palmira de Cabagra and Crun D´bonn in Térraba indigenous communities. These non-indigenous groups also set up campsites in other parts of the indigenous territory. The Indigenous People, together with other social movements, warned the public authorities, including the police and the Vice Ministry on Political Affairs and Citizen Dialogue.
Despite the warnings, there was no effective response from the government who failed to comply with the precautionary measures established the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued on April 30, 2015 (PM 321-12) for the protection of the Térraba and Salitre indigenous territories to safeguard their lives and integral protection.
The murder of Jehry follows the murder of Sergio Rojas Ortiz on 18 March 2019. Back then, the Indigenous People had also warned national authorities of the death threats received by Sergio and other people from the territory.
The murders of Jehry Rivera and Sergio Rojas demonstrate the helplessness experienced by Indigenous Peoples in the face of daily attacks in their territories. These issues are endured by Indigenous Peoples throughout Costa Rica.
We join the Costa Rican Indigenous Peoples and social organizations in demanding that the government complies with the autonomous territorial reaffirmation process and implements the precautionary measures established by the IACHR. We urge the government to find and prosecute the perpetrators and masterminds of these two heinous crimes. Similarly we highlight the criminalization suffered by indigenous movements (such as the National Front of Indigenous Peoples) and social movements who are denouncing these attacks.
We believe that only through fighting impunity with the robust protection of the right of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination in Costa Rica, do we have a chance of preventing such attacks from ever happening again.
We call on the international community, social movements and organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean and the rest of the world to denounce the murder of Sergio Rojas and Jhery Rivera. We remain vigilant to the injustice that continues to go unpunished against our peoples.
Image: Radio Temblor