AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONTROVERSY
Before analyzing the various issues involved in the current human
rights situation of a segment of the Nicaraguan population of Miskito
origin, the Commission considers it advisable to provide some historical
background that may facilitate the understanding of this complex matter.
What is called “the Atlantic coast” of Nicaragua is a region
that includes the Department of Zelaya and part of the Department of the
Rio San Juan. From time immemorial, this area has been inhabited by the
ethnic groups denominated Miskitos, Sumos and Ramas, the sole genuine
descendants of the primitive aborigines who inhabited Nicaragua. Of
these, the Miskitos are the largest ethnic group.
As a result of the particular circumstances of the historical
development of Nicaraguan society, this part of the country is unlike
the pacific region from an ethnic, cultural, historical, linguistic or
Thus, while the Spanish, Catholic captains and religious orders
colonized the Pacific zone, the Atlantic coast was the object of similar
activity by the British, who since 1640 has established themselves in
the northeast part of this region, dedicated to the exploitation of
sugarcane and hardwood.
The English won and cultivated the friendship of the natives, and
occasionally were allied with them in attacks on some Spanish
settlements in the interior of the country. To consolidate their
domination of the region, in 1687 the British created the Miskito
Kingdom, which was brought under the protection of Great Britain. In the
same year, the Governor of Jamaica approved the appointment of the
Indian chief Oldman as monarch of the Miskito territory; this
artificially established the Miskito dynasty, an institution which had
not existed previously in Indian social organization. The monarchy
lasted until 1894, when Nicaragua again acquired full sovereignty over
these lands through the decree of reincorporating of the Mosquitia.
At the beginning of 1847, the British Government notified the
Republics of Central America that what was called the “de la
mosquitia” coast, extended from the Cape of Honduras to the southern
bank of the San Juan River, and that in the future the Miskito Kingdom
should be recognized as a sovereign nation under the protection of Great
In 1849 the Atlantic coast witnessed the first arrival in the
region of missionaries of the “Unitas Fratum” church, known as the
Moravian church because it originated in Bohemia and Moravia,
Czechoslovakia which soon became the dominant influence in the area,
displacing the Catholic Church which maintained its predominance in the
pacific region. Thus, by 1900 most of the Miskito and Sumo communities
had embraced the Moravian faith; Criollo and Miskito pastors gradually
replaced those of German and North American origin, and at present
nearly all centers populated by Miskitos have a Moravian pastor trained
at the Biblical Institute of Bilwaskarma, on the Coco River.
The Treaty of Managua was signed in 1860, whereby Great Britain
recognized Nicaraguan sovereignty over the Atlantic region and declared
that the British protectorate over that territory would expire following
exchange instrument of ratification. The Treaty established that the
Miskitos would have the right of self-government and the right to govern
all residents within the region, in accordance with their own custom and
with whatever regulations they adopted that did not contravene the
sovereign rights of the Republic of Nicaragua. In turn, the latter
agreed to respect and not oppose their customs and regulation.
Due to the unique status obtained by the Miskitos as result of
this arrangement, serious and ongoing problems arose between the
authorities of the Republic and those of the Miskito Reserve. On
February 12, 1894, this led the Government of Nicaragua to reenact the
reserve by means of a Decree issued by the Inspector General of the
Atlantic coast, General Rigoberto Cabezas.
On November 20 of the same year, the inhabitants of the Reserve,
speaking through their mayors and delegates, declared their acceptance
of the sovereignty of Nicaragua, reserving some privileges though what
was called the Miskito Convention.
On April 19, 1905, Great Britain and Nicaragua signed the
Altamirano Harrison Treaty, which annulled the 1860 Treaty of Managua.
In accordance with this new instrument, Great Britain recognized the
absolute sovereignty of Nicaragua over the Territory constituting the
earlier Miskito Reserve.
Subparagraphs b), c), d) and e) of Article 3 of that Treaty read
The Government shall allow the Indians to live in their villages
in enjoyment of the concession granted under this Convention, and in
accordance with their own customs, insofar as they are not contrary to
the laws of the country and public morality.
The Government of Nicaragua shall grant them a period of two
years to legalize their rights to the property they have acquired in
conformity with the provisions that governed the reserve prior to 1894.
The Government shall not charge for their lands or for the concession of
titles. For that purpose, titles that were owned by the Indians and
Creoles prior to 1894 shall be renewed in conformity with the law; and
where such title do not exist, the Government shall give each family
eight squares of property in their place of residence.
Public land for grazing shall be set aside for the use of the
inhabitants in the neighborhood of each Indian village.
Should any Miskito or Creole Indian prove that the property he
owned in accordance with the provisions in force prior to 1894 has been
revoked or adjudicated to another person, the Government shall
compensate him by granting him idle land of like value, as close to his
place of residence as possible.”
The Altamirano-Harrison Treaty closed the chapter on Great
Britain’s claims to the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. Yet several
factors remained that made it difficult to legalize ownership title to
the properties that belonged to the Miskitos prior to 1894 and to
specify other rights to lands referred to in Article III of the
above-mentioned Treaty. Among such factors should be mentioned the lack
of precision with respect to the boundaries of the former Miskito
Reserve; the difficulty in transportation and communication among the
remote Indian communities and with Bluefields, capital of the
Department; and the persistence of some Miskito chiefs in considering
themselves subjects of the Kingdom of Great Britain.
though some communities obtained title to their lands, the problem still
remains unresolved, and the Miskitos have since maintained an ongoing
claim to compliance with the provisions of the treaty concerning their
lands and their right to live in accordance with their customs.
Moreover, the relative economic and social development that took
place in the country at the end nineteenth century and the beginning of
the twentieth never reached the Atlantic coast. The liberal and
conservative governments that governed the country following the
reincorporation of the Miskito reserve until July of 1979 focused their
attention on the rest of the country, particularly the Pacific zone.
Thus, the Atlantic zone was not included in the general development
process of the country, and was subject to economic exploitation and
natural resources of that region, chiefly mineral, forestry and fishing
resource were exploited by national or foreign companies of the pacific
region. To mention but a few, these were: The Neptune Gold Mine Company;
The Rosario and Light Mine Company; The Nicaraguan Long Leaf Pine Lumber
Company (NIPCO); and the Pescanica, Plumar-Blue, and Boot Fishing
Miskito population that worked in these enterprises received wages that
were considered to be very low, while the Atlantic region, as a whole
received no particular benefit as a result of the economic activities of
those companies. Thus, the only route of communication with the Pacific
zone was by means of navigation of the Rio Escondido from Bluefields to
the City of Rama (6 hours), and then by road to Managua (5 hours); the
principal population centers-Puerto Cabezas and Las Minas- are linked by
rough dirt roads, which are not always passable.
In general, it may be stated that the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua
in July of 1979, lacked electricity, drinking water, sanitary
facilities, transportation services, communications, radios and schools.
As a reaction to this state of absolute neglect, as a
manifestation of the resurgence of an awareness of ethnic identity on
the part of the natives vis-à-vis the attempts at acculturation by the
previous government, foreign companies, and in general, the populace of
the Pacific—whom the Miskitos called “the Spaniards” – and as a
means of defending their ancestral rights, in 1972, the Indian
organization Alliance for the Progress of the Miskito and Sumo
(ALPROMISO) was created, and in November of 1979 this was transformed
and replaced by the Organization MISURASATA.
It was not long before serious problems arose between the Indian
communities and the Sandinista Government, which has assumed power in
According to substantial background material in the hands of the
Commission, shortly after the triumph of the revolution, a good part of
the Miskito population began to resist the attempts of the new
Government of Nicaragua to make them adapt some of their ways of life
and tribal organization to the political and social objectives set out
by the Sandinista National Liberation Front. (FSLN).
to reports received by the Commission, the resistance of the Miskitos to
such changes, and the insistence of the government that they accept
them, gradually gave rise to a distancing of the two groups which
sharpened into antagonism, due to the conflict between the FSLN’s
expectations of the Miskitos and the expectations of the Miskitos with
respect to the Sandinista Government.
As the Indian’s resistance grew, the Government began to apply
increasingly drastic measures to control what had become an organized
counterrevolutionary movement in the eye of the official authorities,
with influence on the whole Atlantic coastal region and with
February 19 and 20, 1981, approximately 30 Miskitos leaders of the
Misurasata Organization were imprisoned by the State Security forces,
among them Brooklyn Rivera, Hazel Lau, and Steadman Fagoth. In addition,
the organization’s offices were placed under army control.
accused the leaders of Misurasata of promoting a separatist movement on
the Atlantic coast. New waves of protest broke out in the area, and led
to the formation of February 25 of that year of a Peace Committee
comprised of members of the FSLN, Misurasata, and religious
response to the recommendations of that Committee, Rivera and Lau were
released together with the other leaders who had been captured; Steadman
Fagoth, representative of Misurasata in the Council of State, accused of
high treason and of being an agent of the Security Force of the previous
regime, a charge he denied, was not released.
the insistence of Misurasata and other organizations, Fagoth was
released in May 1981, returned to the Atlantic coast and moved to
Honduras, where he was followed by 3,000 Miskitos. Later, in September
of that year, Brooklyn Rivera, who had continued to negotiate with the
Government on behalf of Misurasata, also left the country.
In July 1981, the Government announced the launching of the
Agrarian Reform Program. Misurasata leaders believed that the program
should take into account the claims of the Indian communities to
ownership of lands involved in the program, since from their viewpoint,
it would first have to be determined which lands belonged to them and
which others the Government could dispose of without compensation.
the Miskito leaders accused the Government of not observing an Agreement
which, in their view afforded the Indian organization a four/month
deadline to submit a study in support of their land claims.
In the course of these events, the Government of National
Reconstruction repeatedly denounced the existence of anti-Sandinista
armed groups operating along the border with Honduras, from within that
country, which were organized and led by officers of the disbanded
Somocista National Guard. According to the Government of the FSLN, those
groups made constant incursions into Nicaraguan territory, attacking
border posts and terrorizing the Miskitos who lived in various
communities along the Coco River.
response to this situation, the Nicaraguan Government expanded its
military presence in the area, which gave rise to many confrontations or
incidents between soldiers and Miskitos, which led some of the Indians
to begin seeking refuge in Honduras, by crossing the Coco River border.
In the last months of 1981, the incursions of these armed insurgent
groups became more frequent, according to the Nicaraguan Government.
According to information received by the Commission, on December
20 and 21, 1981, rebels in opposition to the Government of Nicaragua
crossed the Coco River from Honduras and occupied the town of San
Carlos, where they ambushed soldiers of the Nicaraguan army, and
mutilated and killed several of them. The Government of Nicaragua
denounced this incident as part of a massive uprising planned to break
out in the towns of the Coco River inhabited by Miskitos, in the course
of Christmas week. At the same time, denunciations and information
received by the IACHR stated that during this confrontation, and in
retaliation for the killings in San Carlos, Sandinista Army forces
killed a considerable, although thus far undetermined, number of
Miskitos in the area of Leimus and its surroundings.
On December 28, 1981, the Government of Nicaragua decided to move
42 villages of the Coco River region to an area located some 60
kilometers south of the river, on the Rosita-Puerto Cabezas road. The
up-river towns, from Leimus to Raiti, had to be evacuated on foot, under
very difficult and harsh conditions, as there were no passable roads for
vehicles. The down-river villagers, from Leimus to the Atlantic coast,
were moved in trucks and most of those evacuated were allowed to take
some of their belongings. Throughout January and part of February, q982,
approximately 8,500 Miskitos were relocated in five different camps in
what the Government has called the Tasba Pri project “free
land” in the Miskito language).
As a result of the events related to the so-called Red Christmas
operation, many Miskitos were captured by the Government of Nicaragua,
and together with some ministers of the Moravian Church, accused of
being counterrevolutionaries. A massive exodus then ensued; during which
approximately 10,000Miskitos and many Moravian ministers crossed the
Coco River into Honduras, where some 8,000 were subsequently settled in
refugee camps in the area of Mocoron, in the Gracias a Dios Department.
On February 22, 1982, Foreign Minister Miguel D’Escoto
Brockmann, on behalf of the Government of National Reconstruction of
Nicaragua, invited the IACHR to visit the country and to directly
observe the situation of the new ethnic minority settlements on the
pertinent section of the note addressed to the Executive Secretary of
the Commission, Mr. Edmundo Vargas Carreño, reads as follows:
AM HONORED TO GREET YOU AND TO TRANSMIT TO YOU, ON BEHALF OF THE
DIRECTORATE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION, A MOST CORDIAL
INVITATION FOR THE HONORABLE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
TO VISIT NICARAGUA AND MAKE AN ON-SITE OBSERVATION OF THE SITUATION OF
THE NEW SETTLEMENTS OF ETHNIC MINORITIES ON THE ATLANTIC COAST OF OUR
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, in reply to the
Foreign Minister, indicated that the note would be considered by the
IACHR, which would meet on March 1, 1982, at its Fifty-fifth Session.
A few days prior to the invitation of the Nicaraguan Government,
the Commission received from the Misurasata organization, whose
coordinator General is Mr. Brooklyn Rivera, the first formal complaint
Indian Miskito people by the Government of Nicaragua.
The complaint was submitted to the Government of Nicaragua on
February 24, 1982 in accordance with Article 31 of the Statute of the
Commission, with a request for information on the facts described
therein. According to the complainant, the facts were as follows.
EVENTS OF DECEMBER 1981
On December 23, the Sandinista Air Force bombarded the Indian
communities Os Asang and San Carlos, located on the bank of the upper
Coco River, with “Push and Pull” airplanes and helicopters, killing
60 Indian brothers with 80-lb bombs. Fifteen brothers were taken
prisoner from San Carlos in the direction of Waspan or Puerto Cabezas,
and among them were: Rev. Higinio Morazan (the community’s Moravian
Minister), Juan Saballos, Julian Mansanares, Noel Wellington, Balandor
Barrow, Manuel Saballos, Juan Charles, Alberto Zelaya, and Elsa Barrow.
military air base and 82 members of the Sandinista Army were installed
in Asang. San Carlos received reinforcements of 150 troops, with some
Cubans among them. Both communities were militarized to prevent the
populations from fleeing to Honduras. The soldiers take away the
Indian’s food force them to dig trenches, and forbid them to leave
their communities in search of food and other necessities.
In Leimus, close to Waspan, 80 brothers from Asang, San Carlos,
Waspuk, Krasa, etc., were captured on December 22, as they prepared to
travel to their respective communities from Waspan, Puerto Cabezas and
Managua in order to spend Christmas and the New Year with their
relatives (a Miskito custom). The next night (December 23), the army
killed 35 of them, and buried them together in a single grave. Some of
those killed were: Norma, Rogelio and Simeon Castro, Joselin and Asel
Mercado, Cristina and Mayra Lacayo, Victor and Carlos Perez, Justo
Martinez, Villanor Pantin, Roseno Gomez, Luis Fajardo, Efrain Poveda,
Celso Flores, Ramiro Damasio, etc. The wives of these brothers were
raped by the soldiers from Leimus and later forced to go to their
communities. On the 24th, twelve (12) brothers were thrown
into the Coco River and killed. On the 26th, four (4)
brothers were buried alive near Leimus. The whereabouts of the remaining
80 brothers taken prisoner are unknown. The military base in Leimus runs
a concentration camp and a forced labor program for prisoners.
In Bluefields, on December 26, 30 Criollos, Indians and Mestizos
were imprisoned without any charges. A civilian Criollo was seriously
wounded by a soldier for resisting forced recruitment into the
In the Raudales communities (Raiti, Aniwas, Walakitan, Bokay,
etc.) along the Coco River, Indians who are part of the Sandinista Army
are thrown into the river with heir hands and feet tied for refusing to
take part in the massacre of their brothers in those communities. The
corpses of many of these military brothers can be found in the
communities of Siksayaru and Andristara. In each of the communities of
this zone, there are concentrations of from 100 to 3000 soldiers.
EVENTS OF JANUARY, 1982
On January 7, 300 soldiers appeared in the Sandy Bay Tara
community, repressed the people, militarized the community, and took 40
prisoners to Puerto Cabezas. Many Indians were forced to abandon their
community and flee to the mountains.
In the Bilwaskarma community of Rio Coco, the Moravian Hospital
(the only in the area), was closed and converted into a command
headquarters for the army. The community was militarized, and dozens of
brothers were taken prisoner, among them, Barbara Diaz (a nurse in the
hospital and the daughter of the Minister of the community’s Moravian
In the community of Uhri, down-river on the River Coco, six (6)
bombs were dropped by a Push and Pull airplane belonging to the
Sandinista army, thus forcing the population to take refuge on the
a result of the events of Leimus and of Asang-San Carlos, the
militarization and bombardment of communities, the capture and massive
repression of the Indians, persecution of church and communal leaders,
and the constant military threat to exterminate the Indian race,
thousands of brothers from the Rio Coco communities fled to Honduras
after December 23, joining those who had gone to that country year
earlier. Nearly 6,000 Indians from more than 20 entire communities are
already in Honduras; among them, are the Siksayari, Andristara, Karisal,
Santa Isabel, Krasa, Taniska, San Sang, Kitaski, Krinkrinkia, Pilpilia,
Namahka, Winwika, Paliyuhmba (Esperanza), Isulibila (Santa Fe),
Wirapahni (San Alberto), Pransa, Nasuni (San Jeronimo), Ipritingni,
Bulsirpi, Lakuntara, Wiswis, Nilwas, Uhri. It should be noted that the
brothers of these communities left empty-handed, abandoning their homes,
their livestock and their other belongings because of the prevailing
situation in the region.
FSLN is carrying out an intense political propaganda campaign urging the
refugee brothers in Honduras to return to their respective communities,
since they know that the refugees have suffered hunger and sickness in
that country, and the FSLN is offering food, medicine doctors and every
kind of assistance. They say that those who kill and oppress the Indians
are the Somocistas or the counterrevolutionaries (??0 and to pay no
attention to the lies of other groups. But the Indian people is not to
be deceived; they know nothing of the existence of such alleged
anti-sandinista armed groups, but they have experienced the oppression
and bombardment of their communities, the mass killings of their
brothers by the soldiers of Sandinismo. What is ironic in this FSLN
campaign is that while their propaganda makes an effort to persuade on
the basis of lies, their military sets fire to communities, expropriates
the livestock and property of the refugees, and forces the few families
who remained in the communities to move to another area as alleged
on January 11, the military began to burn houses, temples and schools in
the communities of Irpitingni, Pransa, El Carmen, Lakun Tara, Bulsirpi,
San Jeronimo, Wirapahni, etc.
the livestock (cows and horses) of theses communities are being given
over to the INRA (Nicaraguan Institute for Agrarian Reform) and they are
then used to feed these same officers (who have red meat daily).
some communities, such a Santa Fe (Isulibila), Esperanza (Paliyuhmpa)
and San Jeronimo (Nasuni) where a few Indian families still remained,
the Armed Forces of Sandinismo have forced them to abandon their
communities and move to the Tasba Raya area as supposed refugees, under
the pretext of protecting them from Somocista and counterrevolutionary
DENOUNCES TO THE WORLD THE ETHNOCIDE OF ITS Indians by the Sandinista
regime, the massacres at Leimus and Asang-San Carlos, the dozen of
prisoners from San Carlos, Sandy Bay Tara, Blue fields, Bilwaskarma, and
Leimus, the bombardment and burning of the communities of the Coco River
the expropriation of the livestock and other property of the Indian
refugees, the persecution of the leaders of the churches and
communities, the decision to annihilate the Indian race, the
militarization of the communities and especially the defamation campaign
to denigrate the authentic struggle of our Indian peoples for their
lands and autonomy, which links them to the Somocista or
counterrevolutionary groups. We repeat that the Somocistas have always
been the enemies of our Indian peoples and we believe that no
counterrevolutionary group represents the interests of the Indians of
MISURASATA, so that the Indian struggle can in no way be related to the
interests of these unknown groups. We denounce that the FSLN, while
lacking grounds and fair arguments in the face of the claim of our
Indian peoples for the defense of their historical rights, has launched
this slanderous campaign to continue to deny us our ancestral rights and
in order to exterminate the Nicaraguan Indian race.
In a note dated March 31, 1982, which refers to Case Nº 7964 and
to the pertinent sections of the complaint which has been transmitted by
the Commission in its note of February 24, the Government of Nicaragua
merely noted that:
Government of National Reconstruction has invited the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights to visit and observe in loco the situation of
the settlements of the Miskito groups on the Atlantic coast of
Nicaragua. That invitation was accepted by His Excellency, Mr. Tom
Farer, Chairman of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, who
will arrive in Nicaragua with a delegation in the first week of May.
same note adds that:
Government has been obliged to defend our country’s sovereignty and at
the same time protect the Miskito population from Somocista bans by
relocating them in a safe place where they are not in danger. In the
Miskito settlements, the most basic of all rights, the right to life is
fully protected. The Government of National Reconstruction and the
Sandinista Front for National Liberation carry out integral programs to
improve and lend dignity to their living conditions, especially with
respect to health, education, and housing.
In a note dated May 21, 1982, the Commission reiterated its
communication of February 24 to the Government of Nicaragua, and again
requested that information it deemed appropriate be submitted to the
Commission with respect to the facts in the complaint.
In a note dated June 24, 1982, from the Permanent Mission of
Nicaragua to the OAS, the Government of Nicaragua replied to the
Commission’s request, with a note dated June 23, 1982 from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the pertinent sections of which read as
Government of Nicaragua was fully convinced that the facts contained in
the complaint had been processed by the IACHR during its in situ
investigation, carried out from May 4 to 7, and because it was known
that these complaints were investigated during the above/mentioned visit
carried out at the invitation of the J.G.R.N. to clarify the issue of
the Nicaraguans of Miskito origin.
is difficult for the Government of Nicaragua, as it would be for any
other government, to understand why the complaints received by the IACHR
prior to its visit to Nicaragua, and during whose stay we have
understood investigated those complaints, still require a written reply,
especially since the IACHR had that information and the object of its
visit was to confirm the truth or falsity of the facts complained of in
the foregoing, this Ministry, at the request of the National Commission
of Human Rights, will again urge the competent authorities to submit
their own version with a reasonable period of time, since the previous
request only allowed a deadline of ten days.
The Commission also received other complaints and reports from
various individuals and institutions which, with some variation,
referred to the facts set forth in the original complaint.
Within this context, the Commission considers it important to
refer to the message of the Bishops conference of Nicaragua of February
18, 1982 addressed to the people and Government of Nicaragua and to the
families of Miskitos, Sumos and Ladinos.
message is signed by Monsignor Miguel Obando y Bravo, Archbishop of
Managua; Monsignor Pablo A. Vega M., Bishoop of Juigalpa; Monsignor
Leovigildo Lopez Pitoria, Bishop of Granada; Monsignor Jualian L. Barni
S., Bishop of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of Leon; Monsignor
Salvador Schlaefer, Apostolic Vicar of Bluefields; Monsignor Ruben Lopez
Ardon, Bishop of Esteli and Monsignor Bosco Vivas Robelo, Auxiliary
Bishop of Managua. One part of the message reads as follows:
events that took place in the Coco River zone, on the border with
Honduras, in the Department of Zelaya, Nicaragua, beginning in December,
1981, and which have culminated, on the one hand, in the massive
transfer of entire Miskito populations to the interior of the country
and on the other, to the flight off a considerable part of the
population of that zone to Honduran territory, have had painful effects
on all the inhabitants: Miskitos, Sumos and Ladinos of that region.
is well know that the armed encounters in that zone that took place
during those months led to the death of many members of the militia and
soldiers of the Popular Sandinista Army, as well as the death of many of
their political adversaries and even some uninvolved citizens.
a result of these events, dozens of people have been detained, and
almost all of the towns along the Coco River have been evacuated by the
army. Even if the massive evacuation of these towns can be explained
militarily we still must regret, from a humane and Christian viewpoint,
the displacement of these Indian groups whose roots in hat region go
bank to time immemorial: displacements both to the settlements
established by the Nicaraguan Government in the interior of the country,
as well as to Honduras where many Indian fled, perhaps out of fear, or
motivated by the sometimes drastic examples of some of the earlier
transfers to he above-mentioned settlements.
pastors of all our people we feel deeply the suffering caused by the
uprooting of these peoples from their lands and we wish them to know
that we share their suffering, and that we have for them deep pastoral
concern, and fatherly love.
recognize the government’s authority, and it right to take the
necessary measures to guarantee the defense and integrity of the
also recognize the autonomy of the State and its right to take emergency
military measures in all or part of the country to effectively defend
we wish to remind every one that there are inalienable rights which
under no circumstances may be abridged, and we note with sorrowful
surprise that in some specific cases, there have been serious violations
of the human rights of individuals and families and even of entire
Evacuations conducted by the military, with no prior notice or
Forced marches of several days with insufficient consideration
for the weak, the elderly, women and children.
Charges of counterrevolutionary collaboration aimed at entire
groups of the population.
The destruction of homes, belongings and livestock.
Also, the death of individuals under circumstances which, very
much to our regret, remind us of the drama which our brothers in the
region are living.
facts move us to denounce vigorously, attitudes on the part of those
who, having power and force in their hands, should always be the first
to guarantee the observance of human rights; and to urge the competent
authorities to apply the disciplinary measures which would prevent a
repetition of such events in the future.
addition, recalling that the integrity of the country’s territory must
be protected as a historic duty of all Nicaraguans, once the integrity
of the national territory is secured, one must also recall that it is a
right and a duty to protect the legitimate possession and enjoyment of
the riches of the natural, traditional and cultural patrimony of the
Indian peoples of the Atlantic coast, in whom we find and recognize with
pride not only the ancestry of the race, but also the identity of our
age-old, pre-Hispanic nationalities.
briefly put forward these facts that describe a situation where the
dignity of the individual has not been respected and there has been a
violation of their rights, as pastors, and in open solidarity with the
Miskitos, Sumos and Ladinos of the Atlantic coast, we request that the
competent authorities carry out an objective investigation and take the
proper measures to promote peace and tranquility, by guaranteeing
justice in the region.
MISURATA, derives its name from the first syllables of the
names of the ethnic groups: Miskito, Sumo, Rama and Sandinista and
the words Asla Takanka (which in the Miskito language means
“united”), and in accordance with its broad outlines, defines
itself as follows; “We are three groups of Indian peoples of the
region that comprise a single monolithic unit of Indian brotherhood,
which defends and upholds the Sandinista Revolution in our
society”. In April of 1980, when membership on the Council of
State was broadened, the Organization was granted a seat on that
body. MISURASATA was dissolved by the government toward the end of
1981, however and most of the former leaders currently do no live in
Nearly coinciding with the complaint of Misurasata, there
appeared separately at the Secretariat of the Commission, Mr.
Armstrong Wiggins, accompanied by staff members of the US
organization, Indian Law Resource Center< and Mr. Steadman
Fagoth, who appeared accompanied by Colonel Sam Dikens of the
American Security Council. Both men indicated to the Executive
Secretariat of the Commission the seriousness, in their opinion, of
the events that took place at the end of December 1981 and on the
early weeks of 1982. Since the Commission was to meet soon
thereafter, they were invited by the Executive Secretary to testify
directly before the Commission, which they did some days later.