Costa Rica: Indigenous Communities Reject Proposed US Army Incursion
The Costa Rica Star - Indigenous people and farmers from the canton of Talamanca rejected their mayor’s demand to allow incursions by the United States Southern Command within the Bribri Indigenous Territory.
In a letter to Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, Talamanca’s mayor Melvin Cordero asked for the establishment of a “humanitarian air bridge” with the US organization to facilitate access to the territory by institutions such as the Social Welfare Fund, the Ministry of Education, the Institute of Rural Development, the National Production Council, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the municipality.
Cordero stated that this request is intended as a means to provide essential services to the communities of Alto Telire. However, Bribri indigenous leader Leonardo Buitrago declared that this argument is questionable as there is no extreme poverty in Talamanca, the main reason quoted by the mayor.
According to Buitrago, this operation would put the population in danger and would facilitate the entry of military troops into indigenous territory without consulting the concerned communities.
Farmer Wilbert Gomez from Sixaola also considered that these proposed incursions are unjustified, stating that humanitarian missions could be carried out by the communities themselves along with the institutions in charge of protecting the population. “Military power is used to suppress the people, and to impose power over the people. But we love our sovereignty and freedom, and we believe that we ourselves have the ability to decide what we want.”
The US Southern Command, which aim is to protect US interests in Latin America -such as its access to thePanama Canal- is in charge of security, surveillance, and counter-narcotics operations in more than 31 countries. Its estimated number of soldiers is 24,000.