Six members of the Mayagna indigenous people are dead and another 10 missing following an attack by gunmen on the community of Alal, within the UN-recognized Bosawás Biosphere Reserve in Nicaragua’s eastern rainforest. Sebastián Lino, a member of the autonomous Mayagna Territorial Government of Sauni As, said that some 80 men armed with rifles and shotguns entered the community Jan. 29, firing indiscriminately on residents and setting homes on fire. Lino described the assailants as colonos, or peasant colonists who have been invading the reserve in growing numbers, illegally clearing forest and settling on indigenous lands. “The situation has gotten serious,” he said, demanding government action.
Nicaragua’s National Police force said in a statement that the attack is being investigated, but put the death toll at only two. The Nicaragua Human Rights Collective “Never Again” (Colectivo de Derechos Humanos Nicaragua Nunca+) issued a statement charging that deadly attacks on indigenous communities in the country have been “practically systematic for more than a decade,” and are “only possible…with the complicity of the National Police and the Army of Nicaragua, whether by action or omission…”
The remote Bosawás region has long been targeted for colonization by landless peasants, but the Mayagna and their ecologist allies fear the zone is ultimately coveted by development interests. (Associated Press, Confidencial, Confidencial, Nicaragua)