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The Oakland Institute Denounces Another Massacre of Indigenous People in Nicaragua with Complicity of the Global North

March 23, 2023
Burned houses in the community of Wilú, Mayangna Sauni As Territory

After the massacre in Wilú, the colonos completely destroyed the indigenous people's village. Photos taken by community members.


March 23, 2023; 6:00 AM PST

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  • On March 11, 2023, settlers (colonos) massacred at least five Indigenous Mayangna people in the community of Wilú, Mayangna Sauni As Territory.

  • This colonial massacre is only the latest in a constant stream of violence that has left dozens of Indigenous people dead in recent years.

  • The Oakland Institute’s research has revealed how foreign companies involved in the gold, beef, and timber sectors are complicit in violence, displacement, and dispossession against Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in Nicaragua.

  • The Oakland Institute calls on governments and international institutions to act urgently to prevent further violence against these communities.

Oakland, CA — In Nicaragua, colonial massacres of Indigenous peoples are now a regular occurrence. On March 11, 2023, yet another massacre took place in the community of Wilú, Mayangna Sauni As Territory, with settlers burning most houses in the community to the ground and murdering at least five Mayangna people. As has often been the case, the warning signs were plainly visible prior to this massacre. Just days before, in another part of the Mayangna Sauni As Territory, settlers seriously injured two Mayangna people on March 5, and kidnapped five Mayangna people on March 10 who were later released. These events took place despite the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights having granted precautionary measures to Wilú and two other communities in Mayangna Sauni As Territory on February 13, 2022, calling on the Nicaraguan state to “safeguard the life and personal integrity of the indigenous people” in the communities.

CONTENT WARNING: images of graphic violence

“At this point, it is inaccurate to describe this massacre as the result of the state’s failure to protect Indigenous peoples. The state has received dozens of requests, warnings, and demands from Indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, foreign governments, and international institutions regarding the threats to Indigenous peoples’ lives and territories,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute. “The only remaining conclusion to be drawn is that the systematic murder and displacement of Indigenous people is an unstated policy of the Nicaraguan state aimed at appropriating their lands. The Oakland Institute considers this to be a policy of settler colonial ethnic cleansing,” she concluded.

One of the Indigenous people killed by the <i>colonos</i> One of the Indigenous people found murdered in the river.
Top: One of the Indigenous people killed by the colonos. Bottom: One of the Indigenous people found murdered in the river.

As the Oakland Institute’s research has revealed, corporations from the Global North are complicit in the settler colonial violence in Nicaragua. For instance, foreign mining companies have obtained massive concessions in Nicaragua in recent years, many of which are located in or near the Indigenous and Afro-descendant territories on the Caribbean coast. These concessions include five inside Mayangna Sauni As Territory that are held by the Canadian mining company Calibre Mining and a subsidiary of the Colombian mining giant Grupo Mineros. An executive from Calibre Mining has openly described how the company cooperates with the Nicaraguan government to direct small-scale miners to explore for gold in different parts of its concessions. This allows the company to indirectly explore larger areas without paying for it – or facing accountability for the consequences. This activity risks exacerbating the colonization of Indigenous and Afro-descendant territories by pushing small-scale miners into direct conflicts with the communities who hold collective land titles within the mining concessions. Small-scale miners have regularly used violence against Indigenous and Afro-descendant people to obtain control of mining sites.

The Nicaraguan state and complicit foreign businesses have shown no interest in changing their practices. The Oakland Institute therefore calls on governments and international institutions to act urgently to prevent further colonial massacres in Nicaragua, including the following specific measures:

  • The United States Department of the Treasury and Department of State should implement Executive Order 14088 and block the assets of Calibre Mining, B2Gold, Condor Gold, Plantel Los Ángeles run by Randy Martin, Hemco Nicaragua, and other key companies that the Oakland Institute has revealed to be linked to the violent colonization of Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples’ lands.

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council should renew the mandate of its Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua for two years in order to examine the particular human rights violations affecting Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples and the role of foreign corporations in these violations.

  • International financial institutions—including the Central American Bank of Economic Integration and the Green Climate Fund—should put in place safeguards to ensure that free, prior, and informed consent is obtained from Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples for the projects they are financing in Nicaragua. These safeguards should protect against the state’s imposition of government-aligned individuals in the place of community leaders and should include the presence of independent, international third parties in consultation processes. Loans should also be made contingent upon the state carrying out the process of Saneamiento to remove settlers and businesses present in Indigenous and Afro-descendant territories without authorization from the communities.