In the 1970s, the Asociaciones De Desarrollo Integral (Integral Development Associations) (ADI)were created in Costa Rica. The State imposed this figure in our indigenous territories to manage conflicts regarding land tenure and for the implementation of social programs and rural development projects. Despite the fact that the State has promoted the ADI as legitimate figures in indigenous territories, the truth is that for our native peoples this is a form of imposed organization, created by the State to direct, manage and manipulate indigenous territories. On repeated occasions it has violated the autonomy and does not coincide with the native communities traditions and worldview.
In addition, the ADIs have lent themselves to hinder land recovery processes and have given rise to corruption, the accumulation of power by non-indigenous individuals and families, and have unleashed violent conflicts that have resulted in the assassination of indigenous leaders, such as, Sergio Rojas and Jehry Rivera, from Salitre and Térraba respectively.
The ADIs in indigenous territories, having the administration of the lands, can carry out transfers, sales, register lands in the name of non-indigenous persons and even certify those who have not been possessors in good faith. In Térraba, the ADI has bought farms from people who are not owners in good faith with money from Payments for Environmental Services, has encouraged the Ministry of Housing, AyA, the MEP, Dinadeco itself, and the CCSS to invest resources in people that had to be expropriated. For example, on land that has been paid for by institutions, the ADI allows landowners who have already received their payment to continue using the land for their extensive activities. Then we see the EBAIS, the Aqueduct, the Lyceum and the community hall of Térraba with livestock on par.
And, on the other hand, we see how the ADI blocks support for indigenous people. When it came to the San Andrés families, they did not recognize their right to the land and called them invaders (a case they lost and had to admit that they were indigenous families), they have also prevented ICE from putting electricity in recoveries or giving housing bonds to indigenous families in need.
In the case of Salitre, when Sergio Rojas was president of the ADI, he led the recovery of lands since 2010 and for this last reason he was assassinated. After his death, the recoveries stopped and the ADI stopped following up on the recovery processes initiated by Sergio. Currently, the Salitre Council, the autonomous body that determines the territory, is assuming the recoveries again.
Térraba, for its part, has been administered by an ADI that has been co-opted for more than 23 years by a family allied with non-indigenous landowners in the area, a family that has supported extractivist projects in the territory since the 1980s, has been an accomplice of the imprisonment of indigenous defenders of the environment and has arbitrarily dictated who can join the ADI, excluding indigenous people who oppose their interests.
Given this scenario, the Brörán indigenous people have organized themselves to create their own governance mechanisms that have exposed the illegitimacy of the ADI in their territory. In 2010 they managed to get Chamber IV of the Supreme Court to resolve that all Brörán people had the right to join the ADI, since only the Council of Elders (traditional authority of the territory) as a consultative authority can recognize their indigenous identity, not the ADI.
As a consequence, it was also possible to create a database at the request of the Council for the Elderly, which consisted of a historical study of the families that formed the territory from the beginning. From the study, 12 genealogical trunks were obtained, which are the ones that give structure to the territory: if a person belongs to any of these trunks, then he is recognized as an indigenous Bröran, both by the people of Térraba itself and by State institutions.
Other forms of organization are being built
From Salitre and Térraba it is being built and we have other forms of organization representative of our traditions and worldviews such as the councils of elders and territorial, and more spaces that have been built under the opinion, concepts and criteria of different people. Within our territories there are groups that are organized around issues of spirituality, housing, water, environment, education. We have the capacity for analysis and political dialogue with the institutions and to make consensual territorial decisions for the benefit of the community, which is why we claim our right to recognition of our autonomous governance structures.
Serious complaint by the Bribrí and Cabécar communities
We want to pronounce our Word, in the face of the serious maneuver carried out by DINADECO officials. In response to a government plan to promote a massive affiliation of people to the ADIs from the different indigenous territories. DINADECO’s meddling reached the point of trying to eliminate the matrilineal line of the CLANS in the Bribrí and Cabécar cultures as a requirement to be affiliated with an ADI.
This serious event occurred in the Bribri territory of Cabagra with the complicity of some indigenous people out of ignorance and fear; others, because they support the usurpers and also the government, which is very sad for our peoples, and harms our own culture. The disappearance of the clans is a strategy that has been used by the usurping farmers of our lands. The intention is serious and consists of mixing indigenous, non-indigenous, and indigenous people of other ethnic groups to destroy our culture, spirituality, and life project.
Given the facts, the following is denounced and repudiated:
1) DINADECO belongs to the Ministry of the Interior and Police and its ethnocidal and assimilationist policy, does not observe consultation processes, nor does it have intervention protocols, does not comply with national laws and international agreements; its policy violates and allows the violation of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
2) The ADIs are not our ancestral expression of organization, they do not represent us in indigenous cultural diversity. The Constitutional Court Chamber and the UN Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples have said so; the ADIs and DINADECO have nothing to do within our Indigenous Territories.
3) The ADIs are State structures, governed by the executive that divide us, impose themselves and threaten us. “Indigenous Communities are NOT state entities and on the contrary are governed by their own traditional structures.”
4) The public policy of the current government wants to lead us down a bad path, which is why we are going out to defend ourselves now, because we do not know the future tomorrow.
5) The claim to eliminate clans is an ethnocidal, premeditated and violent policy of the State/Government; it is a vertical, patriarchal, neocolonial imposition that seeks to destroy and annihilate our culture. In addition, it sows discord and divides our Communities, it violates our own ancestral and spiritual practices and laws, as well as procedures established in the laws, agreements and national and international judicial resolutions.
We invite all Costa Ricans to join our fight in defense of all our ancestral rights and culture!