In the absence of this process, the settlers, mostly ex-soldiers operating under the Nicaraguan State’s tolerance, extract the natural assets of the communities for marketing purposes.
Despite the fact that the IACHR granted precautionary measures in favor of 12 communities on the Northern Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua and that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the State to adopt measures to guarantee the life, integrity, territory and cultural identity of seven of these communities, “as of today, there has yet to be an effective response from the State,” according to activists.
Increase in violence
Cunningham warned that violent actions by settlers have increased lately. For example, in February, two women from the community of Santa Clara were kidnapped by 25 armed settlers and forced to work cleaning beans under threat of death.
CEJUDHCAN has documented that between 2011 and 2018, a total of 34 community members have been killed, 44 injured, 25 kidnapped, and four disappeared in the context of the conflict.
Additionally, Cunningham said that the violence has generated a food crisis for members of the communities who cannot access their plots or perform other activities such as hunting and fishing. “In that sense, it has affected maternal health, access to education, and hindered access to the basic means necessary to sustain a dignified life,” the activist added.
According to a study conducted by CEJIL and CEJUDHCAN in 2018, about 23% of children on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua suffer from chronic malnutrition and approximately 11% suffer from severe chronic malnutrition.
However, the acts of violence continue with impunity. Out of 65 complaints filed by CEJUDHCAN with the corresponding authorities, 49 were rejected.
Political participation neutralized
Nora Newball, representative of APIAN, an alliance created in 2015 to demand and monitor human rights violations against indigenous and Afro-descendant people, explained to the IACHR Commissioners that the State of Nicaragua has neutralized the civic and political leadership of its people and has installed parallel communal governments.
“In the recent regional elections (of 2019), the participation of the indigenous and ethnic population has decreased due to the high levels of invasion of settlers. 95.5% of councilors belong to national parties and only 4.5% belong to the indigenous party,” Newball said.