Nicaraguan Human Rights Attorney Fighting for Indigenous Rights Target of Assassination Attempt
Interview with Maria Acosta, Center for Legal Assistance to Indigenous Peoples in Nicaragua conducted by Denise Manzari
On April 8, Francisco Garcia Valle, a well-known university professor in Bluefields, Nicaragua, was viciously murdered in his home and was found bound, gagged, and shot in the chest. At the time of the murder, Valle's wife Maria Luisa Acosta was meeting with a delegation from IFCO/Pastors for Peace.
Acosta is an internationally known attorney who has received threats to her physical safety in the past because of her work on behalf of indigenous communities struggling to keep their land and protect basic human rights.
In September, a forensics expert traced one of the bullets which killed Valle to a weapon registered to Peter Martinez, attorney for Peter Tsokos, an American citizen and real estate developer who claims he "purchased" the Pearl Cays, seven small islands off the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, for $30,000. Since then, Tsokos has sold some of the islands for half a million dollars each.
But this land was guaranteed to local indigenous communities under the Nicaraguan Constitution and the 1988 Atlantic Coast Autonomy Act. Acosta represents the Autonomous Region of the South Atlantic Coast against Tsokos.
Despite these laws, the courts of Nicaragua have been accused of ignoring these rights and collaborating with U.S. corporations to privatize and sell indigenous people's lands.
Maria Acosta is coordinator of the Center for Legal Assistance for Indigenous Peoples or CALPI. She spoke with Between The Lines' Denise Manzari about her husband's murder and international concern for her continued safety.
For more information about the case, call Pastors for Peace (212) 926-5757 or visit their Web site www.ifconews.org
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