A group of 80 armed men violently sought to overtake Alal, a Mayagna territory in Nicaragua’s Bosawás Biosphere Reserve – the third-largest forest reserve in the world. They burned several homes, killed at least six people and kidnapped another ten in what is the first reported case of encroachment on indigenous Nicaraguan land of 2020.
Amaru Ruiz, director of Fundación del Río – an organization that fights for the conservation of the lands and peoples of southern Nicaragua – spoke to La Prensa on Wednesday and referred to the invaders as colonists.
“These are colonists invasions that happen often in Bosawás and Indio Maíz. There’s conflict because indigenous communities resist the call to leave their territories,” Ruiz said. “Invaders and colonists come to try to remove them and occupy the land.”
The Mayagna community reportedly makes up 0.5% of Nicaragua’s population and is one of at least seven indigenous peoples of the country.
Although Nicaragua is considered one of the least violent countries in Central America, deforestation and invasion with the intent of forced displacement have been prevalent issues for the Central American country’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities for the last decade.
In 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ordered Nicaragua to look into the rise in killings and violent attacks. On Thursday, they responded to the attack by urging the government to act and protect the rights of indigenous communities.
“The nation isn’t following its international obligation to protect the integrity, life and territories of indigenous communities if it doesn’t prevent, investigate and punish these acts,” they wrote.
Correction, January 31 at 10:17 a.m. ET: This post has been updated. The director of Fundación del Río has been corrected from Armanda to Amaru.