Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 19, 2023

United Nations -- Father of Assassinated Miskito Youth: Courage in Nicaragua

Miskito father speaks at UN Forum/Image by Censored News

United Nations -- Father of Assassinated Miskito Youth: Courage in Nicaragua

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
April 19, 2023

NEW YORK -- The father of assassinated Miskito youth Mark Rivas described the struggle for the survival of Indigenous Peoples in Nicaragua, where 79 Indigenous People have been assassinated protecting their forests and their lands.

Carlos Rivas Thomas, Miskito, described the invasion of settlers and the crisis during his statement to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Wednesday.

"Our people are courageous," Rivas said, sharing the history of the Miskito. "Communal goods have allowed us to live until this day."

Rivas said 1,500 hectares of forest land have been taken over illegally by landowners and ranchers. More than 1,500 Indigenous People have been displaced.

"Seventy-nine Indigenous People have been murdered, including my son Mark Rivas, a young Indigenous leader who was murdered in 2020," Rivas told the United Nations.

More than 35 Indigenous People have been disappeared.

"Our people face a serious crisis to our existence."

"We reject the invasion of settlers by the government of Nicaragua because that would force us to live together with those who destroy Mother Earth."

Cultural Survival described the assassination of Mark Rivas in 2020:

Just four days into the new year, on January 4th, Miskitu Youth leader Mark Rivas died by a gunshot wound to his head in his home in Bilwi (population 85,000), the capital of North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN)."

Rivas was positioned to replace the highest Miskitu leader, Brooklyn Rivera, who in 1987 founded the Indigenous organization Yatama (Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Asla Takanka/Children of Mother Earth), the only opposition political party to the FSLN (the National Sandinista Liberation Front) on the Caribbean coast.

Carlos Rivas Thomas, the president of the Miskitu American Organization (MAO) and Mark Rivas’s father, stated, “My son received death threats by phone just days before they killed him, but there has been no further police investigation.” The state police ruled Mark’s death as a suicide.

Dozens of armed land colonists on January 29th attacked the Mayangna community of Alal within the Bosawas protected nature reserve. The colonists killed four, kidnapped six others, and burned 16 homes and buildings to the ground. The state police later arrested one person associated with settler-colonists.

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