A Tragic Epidemic of Violence in Nicaragua

Photo Credit www.culturalsurvival.org

In a world where the victims are only a number, tragedies often go unnoticed by the international eye.

But the murder of around four indigenous leaders in the Bosawás nature reserve has come to light, alerting the world to precisely those silent deaths that affect the most vulnerable.

We are talking about an armed attack that took place last Wednesday against the Mayangna indigenous community, a people that represent less than 1% of the country’s population, according to the newspaper EL PAÍS.

Regional organizations like Amnesty International have denounced the aggression that took place last Wednesday afternoon, between a massive shooting and the burning of up to 16 houses in the Alal community, within the Mayangna Sauni As territory.

Mayangna indigenous Belatina latinx
Six indigenous people have been killed and another 10 kidnapped after scores of armed men raided an isolated Nicaraguan nature reserve in an attack linked to raging land disputes.

The survivors have identified the attackers as “settler-paramilitaries,” who “killed our brothers with machetes, knives, and bullets,” according to community leader Byron Bucardo Miguel.

“This attack is another example of the continued state indolence suffered by Nicaraguan Indigenous Peoples’ communities in the face of attempts to illegally occupy their territories,” said Érika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas Director.

Similarly, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights agreed “this pattern of attacks has been repeated in Nicaragua for years.” 

As in other regions of the continent, the murders of members of indigenous communities are often directly linked to attempts by paramilitary groups to take over nature reserves to “take advantage of the land and fauna,” added Bucardo.

The organization Center for Justice and International Law (Cejil) has warned for years about the risk of extermination faced by Nicaragua’s Caribbean indigenous communities, in addition to the conditions of abandonment and vulnerability to which they are subjected.

In the eyes of the national government, these communities have no protection whatsoever over their autonomy or their territories, from which they are frequently forcibly displaced for land exploitation, with a loss of 1.5 million hectares of forest since 2009, according to El Confidencial.

According to the Human Rights Collective Nicaragua Nunca+, the murders in the indigenous communities are “systematic practices of more than a decade and are only possible because of the permissibility of the Nicaraguan state, evidencing a clear complicity of the National Police and the Nicaraguan Army, either by action or by omission of those who remain displaced in the attacked territories.” As early as 2017, Front Line Defenders’ annual report on Human Rights Defenders at Risk found that, of the total number of activists killed, 67% were defending land, environmental, and indigenous peoples’ rights.

Of the cases traced, only 12% resulted in the arrest of suspects.

Meanwhile, slash-and-burn continues to ravage much of the world’s remaining forests.