University group comes out in support of Térraba natives

Students and professors at the Universidad Estatal a Distancia have come out in support of native families who had taken over a school in Brorán de Térraba in southwestern Costa Rica.

The more than 200 signers of the petition said they seek immediate intervention by the government to protect the parents, school children and leaders of the Térraba movement.

The petitioners come from the central location of the university in Sabanilla de Montes de Oca.

They also asked for a declaration of a state of emergency for the educational system there and that national education officials in the shortest time possible take action specified by international conventions.

They also asked for an investigative commission to evaluate the state of international agreements in native territories. They also want an investigation of the violence that took place Monday.
Costa Rica subscribes to various international treaties that carry the same weight as the Constitution.

About 60 of the native people had been occupying a small schoolhouse in the community since last week, demanding that the school’s administrators hire native people as teachers, according to Fuerza Pública commander of that sector Edwin Miranda. The school is Academic Lyceum Térraba. Monday about 200 residents of the community decided to disrupt the sit-in and broke through the closed schoolhouse door and provoked a physical confrontation. Some 18 persons suffered injuries.

International treaties give native groups rights to direct their own education and create their own institutions, the university group noted. They called the events at the school house the tip of the iceberg and said that the indicators of well being for native groups was less that the nationwide levels. They also noted that some 10 percent of the native reserve will be flooded by the Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Diquís dam and that the culture is seriously threatened.

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