The President of the Republic, Carlos Alvarado, and the Minister of the Interior and Police, Michael Soto, signed Executive Decree No. 42814-MGP, which regulates Law 9710 “Protection of the Right to Costa Rican Nationality of the Cross-border Indigenous Person and Guarantee of Integration of the Cross-border Indigenous Person”.
This regulation – which regulates the process of recognition of this population – provides an institutional response to indigenous peoples whose territory existed before the delimitation of Costa Rica’s borders, through which they have historically moved in accordance with their customs and economic activities, among other circumstances.
Such is the case of the Ngäbe-Bugle population, whose geographical location was from the Valle del General in Costa Rica to Chiriqui in Panama. Currently, they carry out migratory labour movements from the northwest of Panama to the Southern Zone, Los Santos, Naranjo and Sixaola, mainly for the execution of agricultural work such as coffee picking.
Due to the non-recognition of their rights as nationals or residents, this population has not been able to access the rights and legal powers that each resident of the country has.
“The decree does justice to the identity of an indigenous population that has been moving around in a territory that has no borders for centuries. The Government of Costa Rica recognizes this historic right and institutionalizes it for the benefit of this population, all in accordance with international standards and with respect for their worldview,” said Randall Otárola, the Presidency’s Deputy Minister for Political Affairs and Citizen Dialogue.
The regulation – published this Tuesday in the Official Gazette – was developed among various public institutions such as the Directorate General of Migration and Aliens, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Ministry of Justice and Peace and the Vice-Ministry of Political Affairs and Citizen Dialogue, in a process of indigenous consultation with the beneficiary population.
The regulations establish, among other things, that indigenous cross-border persons must be recognised as such in their country of origin or by a duly registered indigenous association and may be regularised as temporary or permanent residents. For this registration they must submit a series of documents and certifications to the Directorate General for Migration and Aliens (DGME).
The validity of the document of migratory accreditation of this population will be granted for a period of two years, extendable for equal periods.
In addition, this regulation reforms Executive Decree No. 37112 with respect to the treatment of foreign indigenous persons, who could opt for the categories of temporary resident, permanent resident, temporary worker or student, if they meet the established requirements.
“This regulation is the fulfilment of the historical recognition of the country for a people that existed in this territory since before the creation of the Spanish border in Central America. Thus, from the DGME we are part of this significant reform for indigenous peoples across borders. The fact that they can access their migratory regularization procedures in a simple way speeds up their imminent naturalization process, in a set of inter-institutional actions for the recognition of their rights,” said Daguer Hernández, deputy director of the DGME.
The regularisation of their migratory status and institutional recognition has been one of the recurrent demands made by indigenous cross-border people.