Monday March 18 was a sad day for Costa Rica, due to the assassination of indigenous leader Sergio Rojas. This well-known Costa Rican led the land recovery movement of the Salitre territory (approx. 200 km south of the capital San Jose).
The assassination was an expression of cultural racism, periodic violence, and non-compliance with the Indigenous Law. This law obliges the State to guarantee the collective rights of indigenous people over their land and natural resources.
The killing of human rights defenders is a reality that affects Latin America. In this context, the Costa Rican State and society must take urgent action to bring peace to the area, and comply with national and international indigenous human rights mandates.
We demand justice for Sergio Rojas. We also demand immediate attention to protect the demands of indigenous communities that are being threatened by invaders illegally occupying their territories.
We request the Costa Rican government to take appropriate actions to the highest level and respond to this conflict with the priority it requires. This is necessary in order to initiate a safe, comprehensive, and human rights-centered process to protect indigenous territories.
Defend the defenders
In Latin America, indigenous rights defenders are one of the most vulnerable groups. They constantly face threats, harassment, intimidation, kidnappings, and censorship. In addition, victims are forced to deal with the impunity of the perpetrators because of a lack of investigation and justice. The Hivos program All Eyes on the Amazon, supports indigenous people in their fight for land rights and against deforestation, and strive to protect them.