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Settlers Injure Woman, Burn Two Homes in Mayangna Community in Nicaragua

Indigenous people point to Ariel Castro and Elvin Urbina, the latter is an FSLN councilman and "very close" to the police, as allegedly responsible

Burned homes and injured community members are the result of an attack by settlers on an indigenous community. | Photo: Courtesy

Agencia EFE

27 de marzo 2024


Nicaraguan activist Amaru Ruiz, defender of environmental rights and the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, denounced the attack of land-invading settlers in a Mayangna community in the Northern Caribbean of Nicaragua, where they burned two houses and wounded one person.

“A gang of settlers shot and wounded Emelda Palacio and burned her house located in Amtrukna, within the Mayangna Sauni As territory,” said Ruiz on Sunday night, March 24, 2023.

The environmentalist, who directs the Fundación del Río from exile, pointed out that the settlers “use the strategy of burning houses in the communities so that the indigenous population is forcibly displaced from that area and in this way locate themselves and take control of the territory.” 

Indigenous community members point to Ariel Castro Zeledón and Elvin Urbina as the presumed perpetrators of the attack. The latter is a regional councilman for the Sandinista Front in the municipality of Bonanza and those who know him say he is “very close” to the National Police.

Castro, the other suspect, has on several occasions been accused of being a land trafficker and alleged mastermind of the invasions of indigenous territories.

At the time of this publication, the authorities of the regime have not pronounced themselves on the subject.

The ordeal of ethnic minorities in Nicaragua

According to the Fundación del Río, which was outlawed by the authorities, Nicaraguan indigenous communities have suffered violence under the Sandinista government.

In July 2023, two indigenous Mayangna Nicaraguans were killed in Nicaragua's Caribbean by settlers or land invaders, Ruiz Ruiz denounced at the time. The murdered belonged to ethnic minorities fighting against the exploitation of natural resources and deforestation in the Mayangna Suani territory in Nicaragua's Caribbean, according to Fundación del Río.

A report by the Center for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (Cejudhcan) detailed that, from 2010 to January 2021, approximately a thousand indigenous Miskitos were forcibly displaced to other communities, some bordering Honduras, as well as 46 cases of kidnapping, four disappearances, 49 people injured, eight wounded in armed attacks and two girls assaulted.

Defenders of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in Nicaragua have condemned these crimes and have demanded that the national authorities respond and take immediate action to the situation in the Mayangna Sauni As territory.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) have also condemned these crimes and have demanded justice from the State of Nicaragua. The Center for Justice and International Law (Cejil) has warned that the indigenous populations of Nicaragua are at risk of being exterminated by the constant invasion of their territories.

Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in Nicaragua live in 304 communities established in 23 territories, most of them in the poorest and most isolated areas of the country, according to official data.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Agencia EFE

Agencia EFE

Agencia de noticias internacional con sede en Madrid, España. Fundada en Burgos durante la guerra civil española en enero de 1939.