An Indigenous leader killed and another shot in the leg by land invaders in Costa Rica


On 24th February 2020, a leader of the Indigenous Brörán community of Térraba, Jerhy Rivera, was killed in the Puntarenas province. Rivera led the land recovery process of indigenous territories in the region. His murder occurred during a confrontation with land invaders, who had arrived in the region the day before and had been harassing and seeking to intimidate indigenous families. According to news reports, a group armed with sticks, machetes, stones and at least one gun surrounded Rivera, who was shot and killed as he tried to defend himself. In 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had granted precautionary measures and called on Costa Rica to protect Rivera and other leaders due to constant threats against the Brörán and Bribri peoples. Rivera had been brutally assaulted before on at least one occasion while attempting to denounce illegal logging in 2013.

In a similar case, another indigenous leader, Minor Ortiz Delgado, was shot in the leg by land invaders on 9th February 2020 in Río Azul, Salitre. According to the CSO Forest Peoples Programme, his attacker was set free in less than 24 hours and lives metres away. “The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights decided to issue Precautionary Measures here in 2015, and called on the Costa Rican government to protect the lives and physical integrity of the Bribri and Brörán. However, the government has failed to implement sufficient measures to do so,” read the organisation’s press release.

Civil society organisations and media noted that these acts of violence against Indigenous leaders in Costa Rica are happening almost a year after the murder of Bribri Indigenous leader Sergio Rojas, which took place in March 2018, as reported on the Monitor. The country’s Frente Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas (National Front of Indigenous Peoples - FRENAPI) criticised the government for failing to provide adequate security despite continued threats to these communities. On 28th February 2020, a group of protesters gathered in front of the Presidential House to demand justice for Jehry and Sergio.