The central government said Tuesday that it would take steps to provide better health services to the isolated Alto Telire territory in the Talamancas.
This is a native reserve of some 16,260 hectares, more than 40,000 acres. The population is mainly Bribri and Cabécar, whose occupation of the land long predates the arrival of the Spanish.
The government said that it is planning psychological, medical and nutritional efforts on the reserve. There are reports of badly malnourished and perhaps starving individuals.
The Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social sent teams to the area for the first two weeks of the month and treated 529 patients including 129 children under 5 years, said Casa Presidencial. There are about 1,700 residents there mostly involved in subsistence farming and hunting. The location is in the mountains in southeast Costa Rica not far from the border with Panamá.
Three children were evacuated to Hospital Tony Facio in Limón, and four were placed under observation for various medical situations, officials said.
In addition, Caja workers distributed 1,200 kilos of food that was donated by the Iglesia Vida Abundante, said the government.
The central government announced plans Tuesday to build two medical centers, one in Piedra Meza and a second in Bajo Bley, this year and next. The cost will be about 700 million colons, about $1.34 million. Already volunteers and private organizations have built three hanging bridges in the region.
Friday a number of public agencies have been asked to send representatives to a meeting in San José to come up with sustainable solutions for the poverty stricken region.
Settlements in the reserve are so remote that sometimes residents have to walk for days to reach medical care and modern conveniences. The security ministry frequently makes medical flights to the region as well as similar remote reserves in the country. There are 24 such territories in Costa Rica and eight distinct native peoples.
The Talamanca area also is frequently victimized by drug gangs, and police spend
months each year seeking out and destroying marijuana plantations.
The Alto Telire became known as central government officials disclosed that it is seeking to develop a mechanism for consulting the native inhabitants. Such consultations are required by treaties for certain projects affecting the native peoples.
Ana Gabriel Zúñiga Aponte, a vice minister of the Presidencia, said that the Costa Rican state has a long list of debts with the native inhabitants throughout history. President Luis Guillermo Solís has just issued a directive that cites the historic debt and said that consultation was a matter of human rights.
The central government has been criticized in the past for overlooking the consultation process with native peoples. That fact came up in protests lodged against plans for a major dam and hydro project of the Río Térreba in southwest Costa Rica.