This past week the community of El Tamarindo found itself once again at risk of immediate eviction from the land that has been home to some 130 families since the late 1990s. On April 9, a meeting was held in which a decision was made to go through with an order of eviction for El Tamarindo, despite the fact that the conditions for resettlement guaranteed to the community as victims of the armed conflict had not yet been met. The plan was to force the community into accepting one of three resettlement proposals–each of which disregarded the community’s vocation and identity as farmers and their requirement for collective resettlement.
Meanwhile, back in El Tamarindo the community celebrated April 12th as a day for children “to let the imagination soar.” The day was filed with games, crafts, song, laughter, and smiles. Through the day’s creative activities, the children manifested the trauma that previous evictions have seared into their collective memory. The words they spoke and and the pictures they drew revealed a reality of insecurity and fear, in which their families’ relationships to the land means everything, and yet they understand that it can be taken from them at any moment. At the same time, the children expressed their resilience, flying kites and speaking of their hope for peace and a future in which they can live happily with their families as a community, working the land and caring for their animals.
Largely thanks to the outpouring of support for the community of El Tamarindo (see the Amnesty International Urgent Action here), the eviction process has been put on hold for the moment. However, the location of Tamarindo in a Free Trade Zone means that the pressure to push the community off the land prematurely will only continue. The residents of El Tamarindo have already constructed a comprehensive proposal for their resettlement. Now it us up to the authorities to respect the community’s rights to life, land, and dignity by ensuring that the conditions outlined in the proposal are met. In the words of one child last week, “I want peace, and I don’t want them to evict me from my home, and I want to be happy in my plot of land.” It is not too much to ask.