Nicaragua: Indigenous Demand Clean-up of Ancestral Lands

Indigenous people of Musawás demand the clean-up of their territories. | Photo: Courtesy.

They demand that the government authorities investigate the murders of indigenous people and prosecute those responsible

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Inhabitants of the community of Musawás, in the Mayangna Sauni As territory, in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region of Nicaragua, held a small demonstration to demand the clean-up of their ancestral territories and demand that the murders of dozens of indigenous people at the hands of invading settlers be investigated.

The protest took place on Monday, May 15, but due to the remoteness of this community – located in the heart of the Bosawas biosphere reserve – the information didn’t become known until days later.

Images shared by the Center for Legal Assistance to Indigenous Peoples show dozens of children, youth and adults with banners in hand demanding the cessation of “ethnocide” and reminding the Nicaraguan government of its constitutional and international obligation to protect indigenous communities.

“We don’t want a massacre in the Mayangna Sauni As community. We do not want any more invasions of our territory,” says a poster addressed to the Government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, and to the regional and municipal authorities.

Members of the Musawás community demand the cleaning up of their territories. | Photo: Courtesy

The community members also demand that the land traffickers be convicted “urgently and without conciliation.” They point out that the law must be applied to all, both Mayangnas and settlers, and call for the dismantling of armed paramilitary groups that attack indigenous communities.

In the past ten years an estimated 70 Miskito and Mayangna Indians from Nicaragua’s Caribbean side have been killed by invading settlers. Meanwhile, another hundred have been victims of kidnappings, rape, forced displacement, psychological trauma, and injuries, which have left them with amputations or, in the worst cases, in a quadriplegic state.

The violence against these communities has also caused thousands of indigenous people to abandon their territories, change their eating and survival habits, and abandon their beliefs and culture, say indigenous rights defenders.

This hostile scenario has led the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights, composed of the Commission and the Court, to issue protection measures to 15 Miskito and Mayangna indigenous communities. However, the State continues to minimalize the facts and let all these crimes go unpunished.

Members of the Musawá community during a demonstration to demand the clean-up of their territories. | Photo: Courtesy

An example of this impunity is that after the last documented attack against the Mayangna indigenous people, which occurred on March 11, 2023 and in which five indigenous people of the Wilu community were murdered, it is unknown if the State authorities investigated the case or if they prosecuted a person who was captured by the Police.

Along the same lines, the community members who participated in the demonstration recalled that last January they handed over to national authorities 24 settlers who were invading their territories. These were transferred to Managua, but since then there is no official information about what has happened to them.

On April 26, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) requested that provisional measures be expanded to include “Inhabitants of the Miskitu Indigenous People’s Communities of the North Caribbean Coast Region with respect to Nicaragua” in order to include residents of Musawas and Wilu in the preventive measures.

[Editor’s Note: Routinely, the Ortega regime ignores the provisional measures of the IACHR.]

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