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FRENAPI Defines 2021 Agenda for the Autonomy of Indigenous Peoples in Costa Rica

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KOEF Grant Partner Spotlight

The umbrella Indigenous organization in Costa Rica, El Frente Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas (FRENAPI-The National Front of Indigenous Peoples) met in February 2021 with its National Council to analyze the current situations of their communities and to strategize for the upcoming year. With the support of the Keepers of the Earth Fund, 20 representatives of the Chorotega, Maleku, Bribri, Cabécar, Boruca, Bröran and Ngöbe Peoples gathered in the Térraba Indigenous territory to discuss agenda setting and action steps.

For more than 20 years, FRENAPI has been working for the respect and recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in Costa Rica. They have advanced activities at the national level on Indigenous legislation, human rights, the Indigenous agenda, land reclamation, non-violent actions, environmental issues, among others. In 2019, also with support from the Keepers of the Earth Fund, FRENAPI held their first National Indigenous Congress to define their collective actions after the assassination of land rights activist Sergio Rojas Ortiz, Bribri leader of the Uniwak clan of Salitre and Jerhy Rivera Rivera, of the Bröran Peoples.

The Indigenous Peoples that make up FRENAPI live in constant struggles to maintain or reclaim their territories, threatened by livestock interests, by the intervention of the Costa Rican State and its complicity with the Integral Development Associations (ADI). FRENAPI has expressed its refusal to dialogue with the intermediation of the ADIs, considering them "an imposed structure."

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated matters and worsened conditions for many Indigenous communities. Both economic threats and human rights violations have increased. For this reason, FRENAPI considered it urgent to meet in person to analyze the current situation of their communities, assess the state of the land reclamation movement, and based on their findings define an agenda for action for 2021. Symbolically, the 2021 meeting took place at the Crun Shurin Farm which was reclaimed three years ago from non-Indigenous usurpers.

As a result of the meeting, FRENAPI agreed to strengthen their land reclamation activities, the Indigenous movement for autonomy and self-determination, and to create strategic alliances, recognizing that in this movement "women lead through courageous leadership following the strength of their hearts and ancestral teachings. [...] The benefits are for the communities as collectives, due to the spirituality and the organizational forms of Indigenous Peoples.”

Keepers of the Earth Fund is an Indigenous Led Fund designed to support Indigenous Peoples’ community development and advocacy projects. Since 2017, KOEF has supported 177 projects in 35 countries totaling $764,317. KOEF provides small grants to grassroots Indigenous-led communities, organizations, and traditional governments to support their self-determined development projects based on their Indigenous values. Predicated on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Survival uses a rights-based approach in our grantmaking strategies to support grassroots Indigenous solutions through the equitable distribution of resources to Indigenous communities.