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Report: Nicaragua government failing to protect indigenous

April 29, 2020
The Washington Post

By Christopher Sherman | AP 

MEXICO CITY — Nicaragua’s government has not only failed to enforce laws that protect its indigenous peoples and their communal lands, but is actively promoting illegal land grabs and granting concessions to mining and timber companies, according to a report released Wednesday.

Since 2015, more than 40 members of these communities along Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean coast have been killed and many more wounded and kidnapped, according to The Oakland Institute, a California-based think tank. The complaints in many ways echo recent reports of U.N. and regional rights agencies.

Residents say non-indigenous settlers known as “colonos” have been responsible for the killings, but in many cases police do not even come to investigate.

The violence has increased in recent years, obscured first by the government’s crackdown on protests that began in April 2018 and more recently by the world’s attention being diverted by the coronavirus pandemic. So far this year, eight people have been killed in these communities, said Anuradha Mittal, the institute’s executive director and author of the report. Four of those deaths came in late March.

“Violence is escalating when the world is focused on Covid,” Mittal said “The people are like, ‘forget about dying from Covid, we are dying from land invasions.’”

A request for comment from the Nicaraguan government on the contents of the report was not answered.