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Indigenous Leader Criticizes Arias’ Visit

July 6, 2007

President Oscar Arias drew fire this week from an indigenous leader after a presidential visit to indigenous communities in the Talamanca region, on the southern Caribbean coast.

Arias traveled through several towns and held his weekly Cabinet meeting in the indigenous community of Bribrí.

In a statement that likened government visitors to “neo-colonizers,” indigenous leader Timoteo Jackson said most attendees of the event were government officials and bureaucrats, and only a few indigenous Talamanca residents were invited.

The President and some of his Cabinet members gave out food, farming tools, clothes and seeds to dozens of indigenous families.

“To visit Talamanca calls the government’s and private sector’s attention to the need for effective and generous assistance for the poorest of the poor,” Arias said in a statement.

During the visit, they also celebrated the construction of the Hone Creek-Puerto Viejo aqueduct, swore in 44 indigenous police, and signed an agreement that aims to order tourism development in the Caribbean province of Limón. But Jackson wasn’t impressed.

“They brought in a dance group from the city of Limón, because perhaps don Oscar and his aides and organizers didn’t realize that on the Talamanca coast we have our own art and music,” the indigenous leader said in a statement, adding that it’s unfortunate there wasn’t enough time in the Arias event for a local indigenous theater group to perform its act as planned.

 

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