Indigenous leader, son killed in Nicaragua land invasion

May 23, 2022 GMT

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A local Indigenous leader and his son died in a gunfight with land invaders who tried to run them off their land near Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean coast, an environmental group said Monday.

Tránsito Melgara, a leader in Sukatpin, a Miskito community in the Twi Waupasa territory, and his son Terlin Melgara, were killed Saturday, said environmentalist Amaru Ruiz, director of the Del Río Foundation.

Ruíz alleged the fight was initiated by Gilberto and David Castro, a father and son who he said also died in the incident.

Nicaragua’s National Police had not comment on the attack.

Ruíz said at least 3,000 Indigenous people have been forced off their land in Nicaragua by invaders since 2015.

Salomón López Smith, a leader of the Mayangna Indigenous community, was killed in March.

Several attacks in 2021 killed dozens of Miskito and Mayangna people around Bosawas, a protected area farther west. The reserve has been hit by illegal mining and logging.

Indigenous activists say the government of President Daniel Ortega has not done enough to address the problems in the jungled region, something his administration denied.