Report: Nicaragua government failing to protect indigenous

According to the report Nicaragua’s Failed Revolution, published in April 2020 by the Oakland Institute, a California-based thinktank, the Nicaraguan government is failing to implements laws meant to protect the country’s indigenous minorities and ignoring to increasingly violent attacks against them.

The researched details the increasing violence facing the Indigenous communities in the Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions, as evidenced by recent attacks against the Alal, Wasakin, and Miskitu communities, and provides information about the actors involved—foreign gold mining firms, national and international actors in logging and cattle ranching industry, as well as prominent local officials.

Source: Oakland Institute.

“Since January 2020, 8 people in the North Caribbean Coast have been killed, bringing the total number of killing since 2015 to 44; dozens have been injured, kidnap, disappeared, thousands displaced due to this land invasions.” said Anuradha Mittal, author of the report and Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.

Over the past three years, the amount of land under mining concessions has more than doubled, reaching 2.6 million hectares, or 20 percent of the country. Similarly, Nicaragua’s primary forests, majority of which are found along the Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions and are essential for the livelihoods of the Indigenous, are under intense pressure by corporations and illegal settlers for cattle ranching and lumber operations. Said the report. 

She said “Major mining companies have come from Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Colombia. And they are operating on these indigenous lands. Their Executives declared that the (Nicaraguan) government could not be more supportive of these mining companies.”

Miskitu village. Source: Oakland Institute.

Based on extensive field research, Nicaragua’s Failed Revolution provides first-hand testimonies from members of communities who have been subjected to intense violence, including murders, kidnappings, burning of homes, and other intimidation, linked to land invasions. The report reveals the complicity between Nicaraguan government officials and foreign companies as they dispossess the Indigenous, driving them into hunger and disease and creating a stifling map of confinement.

“This is our land. We would plant, hunt, farm, and gather harvest. But with the invasion of colonos, we live in terror. We have experienced killings and kidnappings. People have disappeared. At night we keep guard to protect our families and our community. But the government has yet to look our way.

As the Miskitu nation, we were forced to bring our case to the Inter American Court to compel the government to end the takeover of our homes, land, and lives by the colonos. But the situation is getting worse. Said in the report, a community leader, whose identity have being protected.

By examining how past “development” schemes, resettlement of ex-combatants, and business friendly policies advanced by successive governments have exploited the Caribbean Coast’s lands, the report provides in-depth analysis and historical context to the current situation. It also details how the Indigenous have turned to the Inter-American Court for Human Rights because of the long denial of the legal protections afforded to them by law and how its binding resolutions have been largely ignored to date.

“Nicaragua is seen as exemplary in granting land rights to Indigenous communities through legal protections, such as the Law 28 (Statute of Autonomy) and Law 445,” said Mittal. “The government has failed to enforce these laws, and instead colludes with business interests and plays an active role in the colonization of the protected lands by outsiders,” the author of the report added. 

The report also exposes how government officials are complicit in land invasions through direct involvement in illegal land sales and the formation of parallel governing bodies to circumvent Indigenous autonomy. 

“Whereas widespread human rights suppression in Nicaragua has garnered international attention in recent years, violence faced by the Indigenous and the impunity granted to settlers by the national police and the government has gone largely ignored—until now,” said Anuradha Mittal.


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