Rama Natives Fight For Their Land

Press Release

Rama Territorial Government Indict the President of the Regional Council in the SAAR

On October 18, 2005 Mr. Sebastian McCrea Ruiz, President and Mrs. Pearl Marie Watson, First Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Rama Territorial Government (GTR) located on the island of Rama Cay, Municipality of Bluefields, South Autonomous Atlantic Region (SAAR) formally indicted Rev. Rayfield Hodgson Bobb, who in the capacity of president of the Directive Board of the Regional Council of the SAAR emitted “Certification” in favor of the directive board of the supposedly “Authority of the Territory of the Rama  Indigenous People of San Juan del Norte” on July 20, 2005.

The afore mention indictors allege that Rev. Rayfield Hodgson Bobb has facilitated the formation of a group of persons of Miskito ethnicity and some Mestizos to whom he has extended a certification, which they are using to invade the Biosphere Reserve of Southeastern Nicaragua and eventually obtain the demarcation and title of the lands within the Reserve and the Territory of the Rama Indigenous People. This group goes by the name of “Authority of the Territory of the Rama Indigenous People of San Juan del Norte” indigenous community  Bartola, San Juan o Indio Maíz.”

Nonetheless, in Nicaragua there exist only one Rama Indigenous People who are recognized by historians and modern anthropologists and formerly registered in the Autonomous Registry of the SAAR in compliance with the criteria of Law 28 that the indictors represent. Thus, the Rama Indigenous People by means of the recourse presented do not recognize as Ramas the persons who were “certified” by Rev. Hodgson because they are not part of the indigenous community; instead, they are individual who have form associations to acquire land. The persons “certified” by Rev. Hodgson don’t even inhabit the region. Some of them are ex-combatants who have identified themselves to the authorities of MARENA (Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources) as representatives of the Resistance with identity cards issued in Puerto Cabezas and who in the past have received lands, which they sold. Now, they see the opportunity to obtain more lands for commercialization. To obtain money from the Mestizos of Nueva Guinea area, they affiliated themselves to their “associations” for an amount between 200 and 500 Córdobas at which time they issue an identification card contingent on a promise of 50 manzanas of land, housing, and food for six months. They claimed that their “affiliates” total 5,000 persons.

The indictors allege that the illegal grant of “certification” by Rev. Hodgson to the afore mention group violates the rights established to protect the Rama Indigenous People and the ethnic community of Monkey Point and specifically the right to protect its communal properties under the sui generis (unique) regimen as defined by articles 5, 89, and 180 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua and developed in the definition of indigenous lands by article 36 and article 11 numerals 3, 4, and 6 of Law 28 and its regulation; and the representation of its Territorial Authorities as part of the customary right protected by the Constitution in articles 5, 89, 180 and regulated by Law 28. It also violates articles 128, 130, and 131 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua.

Hence, in conformity with Law 445, for an indigenous community to exist, it is necessary for a “group of families of Amerindian ascendance to be established in a territorial space,” and for an ethnic community its “a group of families of Afro-Caribbean … tied to their cultural roots and forms of possession of the land” which is why the persons “certified” by Rev. Hodgson do not comply with legal and constitutional rights to be considered members of an ethnic or indigenous “community.” They are not a group of people with ties to any predetermined communal land; and even though some of them may be of Miskito ethnicity, they are not a part of the Rama Indigenous People as it is expressed by the illegal certification. Instead, they are persons who belong to other Miskito communities and Mestizos without any ties whatsoever to the Biosphere Reserve of Nicaragua which they intend to invade.

Though the primary settlement of the Rama Indigenous People is Rama Cay, the rest of the territory is conformed by lands on the main land which historically and traditionally have been occupied by the Rama's overlapping the Natural Reserve of Cerro Silva, the Natural Reserve of Punta Gorda, the Refuge of Vida Silvestre of Rio San Juan, and the Biosphere Reserve of Indio-Maiz, which today form part of the Biosphere Reserve of Southeastern Nicaragua and is protected by the UNESCO of the United Nation. Reserves that if invaded by the persons “certified” by Rev. Hodgson and the groups which they direct, would destroyed these protected areas. The amount of people that they intend to introduce into the areas would be detrimental to the preservation of the environment and the natural resources. And that is why the minister and prosecutor of MARENA, and the Nicaraguan Army have evacuated these persons from the Reserve of Indio-Maiz on various occasions. Nevertheless, Rev. Hodgson with his so-called “certification” facilitates the invasion not only of the Reserve of Indio-Maiz but also the Reserve of Cerro Silva, which from immemorial times have been inhabited by the Rama communities.

For more information contact the office of the Rama Territorial Government in front of the office of the Electoral Council on Averdeen Street, Bluefields. Tel (505) 572-1441




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