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9 de octubre de 2015 | |

Costa Rica: political persecution on the rise

Social leader and councilor released

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The Criminal Court of Pococi lifted the precautionary measure of preventive detention against Orlando Barrantes and Ivan Angulo after being charged with extortive kidnapping of several police officers during a farmers protest 15 years ago, which the defense and the organizations claim to be false. Some days ago, Real World Radio interviewed Stella Chinchilla, member of the Costa Rican Human Rights Association (Acodehu).

Orlando Barrantes is a renowned leftist social leader, member of the National Council of Banana Workers (CONATRAB) and the National Forum of Housing, and Ivan Angulo is advisor of a right-wing political party. In the year 2000, there was a farmers protest in Guapiles (Limon province, on the Caribbean coast) where the demonstrators violently clashed with the Public Forces. During the protest four police officers were held and for this reason “they are accusing Barrantes and Ivan of being the leaders of this situation, because they can´t find anybody else, and these leaders were not even there”, said Chinchilla.

CONATRAB is an organization that gathers thousands of banana workers and former workers that were exposed to agrochemical Nemagon in the plantations during the 70s. Since 2004, the farmers filed lawsuits in US courts against the transnational manufacturers of Nemagon. This agrotoxic was banned in 1997 in the US and the serious effects caused on people and animals were proven.

The prosecution process for both leaders took 15 years, during which they went through many trials, appeals and releases. “Now they are being accused again and they are being sentenced to 12 years in prison for extortive kidnapping. What they say is that they were demanding the exchange of the four police officers for the 50 peasants, they demanded this and finally the government made the exchange”, said Acodehu´s spokesperson.

Stella Chinchilla highlighted that there are many social activists that are imprisoned in Costa Rica; “there are several people accused based on lies by the police, nowadays, police oppression is much stronger than a few years ago”.

“We don´t want martyrs, we want Orlando free, not a martyr”, highlighted Chinchilla and added that “the demonstrations have increased. We expect international support, which is so important and we would like to demystify Costa Rica as a country of peace or a paradise; Costa Rica is an ordinary country, where the rights of people are violated every day, and these numbers are on the rise”, she concluded.

Imagen: semanariouniversidad.ucr.cr

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