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Date: Mon, 5 Oct 98 16:34:46 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Weekly Americas News Update #453, 10/4/98
Article: 44595
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.14313.19981007061530@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Indigenous Costa Ricans march for autonomy

Weekly News Update on the Americas,
Issue #453, 4 October 1998

Fifty indigenous people from the Ngobe Buglere tribe in southern Costa Rica began a 300 kilometer march to the capital on Oct. 1 to demand territorial autonomy. The marchers left from the Ngobegue Cultural Center in Piedras Blancas; another 400 indigenous Costa Ricans from the Brunca, Bribri, Teribe and Cabecar tribes are to join the march, which is to reach the Metropolitan Cathedral in San Jose on Oct. 12, the day marking the arrival of European explorer Christopher Columbus in the Americas. Land, economic resources, health, education [and] infrastructure are some of our demands, said the Dikes Regional Indigenous Association (ARA-DIKES) in a communique sent by electronic mail to the Spanish news service EFE. When the marchers reach the capital, they will present their demands at the Legislative Assembly, the Presidential Palace and the Supreme Court of Justice. There are some 36,000 indigenous people in Costa Rica, representing about 1% of the population. [El Diario- La Prensa 10/2/98 from EFE; 1st International Communique from Ngobegue Cultural Association president Faustino Mora Jimenez, undated, posted by South and Meso American Indian Rights Center (SAIIC) on 9/28/98]

An attachment to a communique from Ngobegue Cultural Association president Faustino Mora Jimenez explains the drastic land situation faced by Costa Rica's indigenous people. In the indigenous reserves, established under a 1977 law, non-indigenous people are not allowed to buy or rent land. However, this law is not enforced. As an example, the appendix cites the 8,000 hectare Terraba reserve, where more than 7,000 hectares are in the hands of non-indigenous people; one non-indigenous family owns 1,300 hectares and the rest is distributed among 20 other non-Lindigenous families. Of the 100 indigenous families that occupy the remaining 1,000 hectares of the reserve, 70 do not have any land; among the other 30, the largest landholder owns less than 50 hectares. Another reserve, San Antonio, has disappeared altogether; many of its residents had to move across the border to the Bocas del Toro province of Panama after the land was illegally expropriated by non-indigenous people.

The Ngobegue Cultural Association is asking supporters to send letters beginning Oct. 5 to President Miguel Angel Rodriguez (email <krivera@ns.casapres.go.cr>) and Legislative Assembly president Luis Fishman (email <lfishman@sol.racsa.co.cr>), asking them to listen to the marchers' demands and respond positively. Send copies of your letter to <cedoecr@sol.racsa.co.cr> and <ande@sol. racsa.co.cr>. [1st Int'l Communique & Attachments] *13. IN OTHER NEWS...

On Sept. 17, the Argentine Senate approved an education finance bill that teachers have been demanding during two years of marches, protests and hunger strikes. Discussion was scheduled for the following week to work out details of the taxes that would raise the necessary funding for the bill. One proposal would impose a 1% tax on privately owned automobiles, boats and planes; however, legislators from all parties agree the amount raised from this tax would be insufficient.