By Chief Tina
Costa Rica—China Kichá is a territory of the Cabécar Indigenous community located in San José, Costa Rica. The lands in the territory were first legally declared an Indigenous territory in 1957. Nevertheless, the lands were illegally trespassed on by non-Indigenous people who stole the Cabécar community’s territory and forced them to leave their lands. Thus, the territory’s legal recognition as an Indigenous reserve was devalued due to a lack of settlers. Thanks to the Cabécar community’s fight, the territory was reestablished as an Indigenous reserve in 2001.
However, history is repeating itself. In Costa Rica, agriculture plays a huge role in the country’s economy. Therefore, it’s extremely prioritized by the Costarican government. The population of China Kichá has been reclaiming their stolen lands. Lands that have fincas (farms) where the farmers who are part of the agricultural sector work and, according to them, lands that they “own.” The current situation of the people living in the China Kichá territory is being twisted by the media, defending the thieves and trespassers of Indigenous land.
The reality is that the Indigenous people fighting for their lands are being attacked violently by these farmers stealing and burning their houses. The media portrays the farmers as the victims whose properties are being snatched by Indigenous people instead of revealing the real narrative of this Indigenous community fighting and exercising their right to reclaim the lands that belong to them.
May 25th of 2019, the finca Kono Ju inside the China Kichá territory was recovered from a non-Indigenous farmer. Since then, the 16 Cabécar families that reclaimed this land have suffered violence, death threats, arson, and other acts against their human rights. September 28, 2020, a decree for the eviction of Indigenous people in Kono Ju was dictated. This decree supports a non-Indigenous person who claims that land is for the “protection of productive agrarian activities”. It is backed up by the Agrarian Court of the Second Judicial Circuit, which claims that it would be a potential danger to the delay of agricultural and livestock production. This is a violation of Indigenous rights over the land!
October 4th, the Kötsíni (Comunal Cultural Ranch) built by the reclaimers of China Kichá was burned down. Some days before this event occurred, there is evidence of a mob of farmers gathered in a plaza inside the China Kichá territory who threatened to attack the territory.
This is only one of the countless acts of violence that our Cabécar brothers, sisters, and siblings from Chiná Kichá have been experiencing with the help of the farmers, the government, and the police. This past 2nd of December, the police force went to China Kichá fully equipped and with shields. The police assaulted many of the reclaimers who were trying to stop their entry into the territory. These Indigenous reclaimers were unarmed and had no form of protection against the police brutality they were facing.
The Cabécar Indigenous people have access to only 3% of the territory belonging to them; every year, they are brought under the violence of non-Indigenous farmers who fight them over their lands. The capitalist and neo-colonialist Costarican authorities are complacent and content with the violence that the Cabécar community faces and other Colonized and Indigenous communities.
Simultaneously, the colonizers and their institutions continue to impose and ignore their atrocities on the Cabécar people. This can be seen with the impunity of the murderers of Indigenous leaders like Sergio Rojas and Jehry Rivera, who were killed defending their lands. There is uncertainty on the China Kichá territory situation, but this is an ongoing fight, and the struggle towards liberation will never end until colonialism is eradicated.
Join our Costa Rican chapter at Black Hammer today and help not only the Cabécar people get their land back but be apart of organizing around worldwide Colonized Unity so that all Colonized and Indigenous people can reclaim their land!