A peaceful resolution has been found in Bribri de Salitre, where locals torched a native’s home Saturday as part of a land dispute that has dragged on for years. After a few days of mediation, government officials managed to cease aggressions against native people that also resulted in a road blockage to keep police away.
Around 70 non-natives formed the mob that set a Bribrí’s house aflame by throwing burning items, including flaming arrows, and setting the inside on fire. The statement said investigators are looking to find those who committed the violent acts and that the blockage was lifted early Tuesday morning.
Ana Gabriel Zúñiga, a vice minister of the Presidencia, spearheaded the mediation in Salitre and said she and other government representatives met with the native group to assure them reentrance to their homes and with non-natives to alert them that further violence would not be tolerated.
“It needs to be made clear that without dialogue and without joint construction this conflict can’t be solved,” Ms. Zúñiga said. “It requires a solid approach on both ends for the process of land recuperation to move in a way that is respectful to human rights and that does not generate violent reactions.”
Joining Ms. Zúñiga during her discussions were the vice minister of Justicia y Paz and the vice minister of the Fuerza Pública. She added that investigators are also looking into a problem with the drinking water supply that apparently arose during the roadway blockage. In the past, native peoples’ waters have been deliberately contaminated to force them to move. Non-native groups have also destroyed forest and depleted the soil, which the Bribrí heavily rely on to live.
Salitre is located in the country’s southwest, within Buenos Aires de Puntarenas. Conflicts between the native Bribris and the non-natives are centered upon the area reserve.
Monday the United Nations called for an immediate stoppage of violence in the area. The organization said it was worried that more human rights violations would occur without government intervention.