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    Indigenous Groups and Government Create Dialogue for Issues in Costa Rica

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    Guaymie Indians on the Osa Peninsula (ariverofhope.org)
    Costa Rica News – The government and indigenous groups of Costa Rica established a dialogue to address various issues related to land tenure and development plans for communities, said an official source.

    The initiation of the roundtable, held during the weekend, was accompanied by the United Nations System and the Office of the Ombudsman.

    “The participants of this dialogue have given us a great example of how you can move towards conflict resolution and enforcement of the rights of indigenous peoples, talking and listening respectfully to each other to find deals,” said a statement of the resident coordinator of the United Nations System in Costa Rica, Yoriko Yasukawa.

    The table includes representatives of the Government in areas such as security, culture, social welfare and development, as well as six members of indigenous communities in southern Costa Rica, an area where in recent months there have been incidents of violence against Indians, apparently related to land tenure.

    Among the priorities are highlighted territorial security, governance of indigenous territories, public policy and development plans for these communities, the bill Autonomous Development of Indigenous Peoples, and the analysis of the right to consult indigenous peoples.

    One of the most contentious issues in recent years has been a state project to build a hydroelectric plant in Diquís indigenous territory in the south, which requires an investment of 2.1 billion dollars, which would be the largest in Central America with a generation of 630 megawatts.

    The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on indigenous peoples, James Anaya, visited the site in 2011 and met with indigenous representatives and government, and recommended a consultation with indigenous peoples.

    The Government is committed to making the request, which has not been made yet.

    Térraba Indians oppose the bill, arguing that will flood 6,800 hectares of indigenous reserves, forcing about 1,100 people to move.

    Another theme in the roundtable is the bill Autonomous Development of Indigenous Peoples already has 18 years in Congress without showing progress.

    The project seeks to give greater autonomy to indigenous peoples to manage their lands, which would be inalienable and non-transferable, and the recognition of their customary judgments.

    It also aims to multicultural education, the establishment of indigenous patents for herbal medicine and indigenous building offices in the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Education.

    According to official data, in Costa Rica, a country with 4.5 million inhabitants, about 64,000 Indians live from eight indigenous peoples.

    The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
    San Jose Costa Rica

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