Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Justice for Jairo Mora

Jorge Mora, FANCA Regional Coordinator, blogs on the death and alleged murder of environmental activist and biologist Jairo Mora, calling for justice and your support.

Last Friday, on 1 June, Jairo Mora, an environmental activist and biologist working with the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Networkn (WideCast), was found shot dead in the Costa Rican Caribbean Coast. Our friends in Widecast, the organisation he was volunteering for, told us that he was leading a patrol with other volunteers when they were attacked by armed men who kidnapped the group, robbed them and then left with Jairo, who was found later dead and shot in the head.

This criminal action is another in a long series of threats and aggressions suffered by environmentalist organizations and their leaders in Costa Rica.

ARCA, the organisation that hosts FANCA, believes that these types of aggressions have increased in recent years for at least three main reasons:

  1. The Costa Rica environmental movement continues to develop very successful campaigns defending the environment: the victory against mining in Crucitas that ended with a permanent legal prohibition to open pit mining in the country; the campaign for a new Wildlife Law proposed through popular demand; the permanent ban of hunting for sport; the governmental decree to prohibit oil exploitation and exploration; strong and successful struggles in defence of community water supplies against pineapple plantations; campaigns against mass tourism infrastructure and pollution, etc.
  2. The inaction and incapacity of the government to protect the environment, civil society organizations that work defending wildlife, water and the environment and the disdain of the government regarding environment issues.
  3. The negative profiling of the environmental movements promoted by the government who accuse activists of “radicalism”. Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica, has asked rural communities “for support raising your voice against some radical groups that are not interested in protecting the environment… because they are not thinking in the protection of the environment but they just want to turn Costa Rica into a big natural history museum, where nature is a green exhibition.”

The death of Jairo Mora is another sad case in a large list of violent actions against environmentalists in Costa Rica:

2012. Gilbert Rojas, community leader and defender of sea turtles in Ostional, Pacific Coast, received threats with gun shots and his house was burnt down.

2011. Kimberley Blackwell, Canadian environmentalist who lived in Costa Rica was shot and killed inside her house in San Miguel de Cañaza, Puerto Jimenez. Police discarded the motive for the killing as robbery.

2010. Carlos León, environmentalist who reported environmental abnormalities received life threats in his home that was set on fire.

2010. Anonymous life threats against the environmentalist Gadi Amit and the director of the online newspaper El Pais, after reporting the illegal concession of water resources to developers in Sardinal, Guanacaste.

2009. The offices of the Ministry of the Environment in the Osa Conservation Area, in Palmar Norte were burned down. There were important files regarding investigations on illegal logging in protected areas in the location.

2008. The farm belonging to the environmentalist Alcides Parajales was destroyed and he received several threats with firearms after denouncing loggers and authorities in Osa Peninsula.

1999. Fires burned down police offices in Rancho Quemado, Osa, where several environmental activists were detained after protesting against illegal logging.

1995. The environmental activist David Maradiaga was found dead after an intense struggle against the multinational Stone Forestal in Osa.

1994. Three environmentalists died in a house fire. Oscar Fallas, María del Mar Cordero and Jaime Bustamante were victims of the most cruel and brutal killing of activists in Costa Rica, after a victorious campaign of the Costa Rican Environmental Association against a transnational logging company.

Next Wednesday, June 5th, on Environment World Day, environmental organizations and environmental networks are organizing a demonstration and vigil in front of the Environment Ministry headquarters and a walk to the Supreme Court of Justice in Solidarity with Jairo Mora’s family and with his organization WideCast; to ask  for justice and demand protection for all people, communities and organizations that are working in the defence of nature and the environment.

We have created an event on Facebook and would appreciate your support by sending messages to the Ministry of the Environment and the Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla as well as to the main media radio program in Costa Rica.

We suggest that messages protest against the death of Jairo Mora, demand justice and demand that the government protects environmental organizations. Costa Rica has always been an example to the world because of its democracy, respect for human rights and environmental protection. Messages could highlight concerns around recent developments which have seen which many environmental organizations attacked, many leaders threatened and the Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla calling on rural communities to confront “radical environmental groups”.

Please send your messages to:

  • Facebook - Rene Castro
  • The Ministry for Environment -
  • The Costa Rican Presidential House -
  • Amelia Rueda Radio Program -

The opinions on the blogs are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organization or Freshwater Action Network.

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