Another Indian activist killed amid Costa Rica land disputes

February 26, 2020 GMT

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Indigenous groups and Costa Rica’s president on Tuesday mourned the killing of yet another indigenous activist,amid continuing land disputes in the Central American country.

The National Front of Indigenous Peoples said Jhery Rivera of the Broran Indian community was slain Monday in the hamlet of Terraba.

Some Costa Rican indigenous communities have begun squatting on land that they have ancestral claims to, sparking conflicts with the current occupants of what are now cattle ranches and farms. The squatter communities, known as “recuperaciones” or “recovered lands,” have been attacked before.


“Starting Sunday February 23, a group of landowners went to Terraba to intimidate and attack indigenous people at four new recovered areas,” the National Front said in a statement. It accused landowners of “racist violence”against 13 indigenous families that have taken over the land, and said the Costa Rican government failed to protect them.

The National Front claimed one landowner had burned a farm near Terraba, seeking to blame the indigenous group for it and spark reprisals against them.

Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada condemned the killing and wrote in his Twitter account that one suspect had been detained. The president gave the dead man’s name as Yeri, and other media have spelled it Yheri.

In 2019, a BriBri indigenous land activist, Sergio Rojas, was killed in a nearby area.

Costa Rica has about 104,000 indigenous people in eight language or ethnic groups, or about 2.4% of the population. Most live in ancestral territories near the border with Panama, but their land claims have not been fully enforced and settlers moved into many of their areas.