My Son Was a Very Good Son

Names and details that could reveal the identity of those interviewed have been withheld to ensure their safety. The fear of invasions, killings, and kidnappings, that is silencing the Indigenous communities in Nicaragua, makes this report all the more urgent.

“My son was a very good son and I will remember him like that”

“I am the elected syndic of Esperenza Rio Wawa. We have faced attacks since 2006 when the colonos first arrived, but the violence escalated in 2015 with the targeting of community leaders who were calling for territorial protection.

On December 17, 2015, they came looking for me but I was not at home. When they did not find me, they threatened to kill men above 15 years of age in my community. My brother in law, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxx, a member of the Territorial Council, was working on his parcela when they kidnapped him. He is still missing.

When I returned from work, the village was empty and my community was hiding in the bush. Two men had been killed. I too went to hide in the bush with my five children. We called the national police. But the police did not come or investigate the killings. We waited with the bodies for two days and then buried the dead.

“On December 17, 2015, they came looking for me but I was not at home. When they did not find me, they threatened to kill men above 15 years of age in my community.”

It was not till two years later, the morning of November 29, 2017 that the police came to enquire about the 2015 attack. That same afternoon after the police left, the colonos killed xxxxxxxxxxxxx, my 22-year old son. xxxxxxxxxxxxx and his younger brother were working in the farm in the forest, not too far from here. My younger son heard a shot and saw his brother fall. The colonos then started shooting at him. He jumped into the Wawa and swam home. He told me and the community judge, “they killed my brother and shot at me, but I got away.”

Men from the community went and found my son’s body. We called the police who came after we put pressure on them to return. But they refused to believe that the colonos killed my son. They claim that a delinquent Miskitu youth killed him.

As the father and the traditional authority of the village, I asked the police to prove this. But the police chose to investigate my younger 18-year old son, questioning and harassing him. Judges from four communities offered to bring the police to the colonos so they can see for themselves how they are taking over our farms. But they refused to go. I decided to investigate for myself and went with my younger son and five other men to the site where my son was killed. Just 100 meters from where the body was found were the new parcels, marked with crosses, and there were fresh bootmarks. But the police report still says that a delinquent juvenile killed my son.

This Friday [November 9, 2018], the police came to talk to me about a project that the government is implementing—providing seeds for beans and cacao crops. I told them that after my son was killed, I do not go to my farm in the forest where I was growing plantain, beans, and cacao on four hectares. So where does the government want me to plant? The government needs to first ensure Saneamiento, and then give us the seeds. The police said, “if Ortega wanted to ensure your autonomy, he could do it. He has the army and the power. But the colonos are his people so he will not do it.”

My whole community suffers. Last month another villager, xxxxxxxxxxxxx was cleaning rice in his farm when the colonos arrived. He threw himself in the river and swam to the other side. This is the life we live. We are not safe. The colonos are cutting lumber and turning our forests into pastures for the cattle. They make their own roads and go to the Pacific with the cattle.

In a few days is my son’s first death anniversary. I will pray and call a pastor. I am so poor that I cannot do anything more. My son was a very good son and I will remember him like that.”

–Interview with xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. Esperanza Rio Wawa.