Indigenous leader leaves an indelible legacy of defense of territory and women’s rights • Semanario Universidad

“She was a woman who never gave up, a person who fought until her last days, leaving that legacy for her family, for the territory,” said her sister Luzmilda Delgado.

The Bribri indigenous leader Mariana Delgado Morales leaves her mark as a defender of the territory, of women’s rights and a recuperator of Bribri spirituality. Those who knew her affirm that she will be remembered for her clarity in the claim for the recovery of indigenous lands, for her courage and for her mastery of indigenous law that protects native peoples.

Delgado passed away on Tuesday, January 3 at the age of 55, due to health complications.

He belonged to the Tubolwak Clan of the indigenous territory of Salitre. However, he was born in Brazo de Oro, Cabagra, and went to live in Río Azul, in Salitre, when he was 16 years old, his sister Luzmilda Delgado told UNIVERSIDAD.

“She was a woman who never gave up, a person who fought until her last days, leaving that legacy for her family, for the territory. Even in her critical moments, difficult for her, she always kept her positive mind. She always fought, until her life left her, ”said her sister.

Many knew her through the struggles for the recuperation of indigenous lands.

Fanny Reyes Ortiz, an indigenous Bröran from the Térraba territory and member of the Red de Mujeres Rurales, met her in the summer of 2014, when a group from Térraba visited Delgado’s family, after she and her children were attacked in the recovery what they were doing.

“We were there three days. It was the first time we were in a recovery. It was a way of showing solidarity with all the attacks that they had been experiencing at the beginning of the year,” recalled Reyes.

“She was a woman with a lot of wisdom, with a lot of identity from her territory and who knew the rights that assisted indigenous populations and also on the issue of defending women’s rights. She has been proud that through this process, as fair as the recovery of her lands, but which has also been so violent, we have been allowed to meet and listen to her. She has been a source of information for us. She is a very big loss, because she was also a young lady and that also hurts us more, ”said Reyes.

For his part, Minor Ortiz Delgado, Mariana’s son, stated: «It is a terribly painful game. It was my mother at the time she guided us to fight, to defend the land, defend the rivers, defend sacred sites, promote culture and a lot of other processes that without her we would not have had enough courage to face a State Costa Rican oppressor, murderer”.

«There are people who leave us, like her, like Don Sergio (Rojas) and the State continues to ignore it, ignores it. And now she is no longer here and in the many years of struggle and until yesterday she did not see a different act on the part of the State. How much I would not give for her to have left in peace in that sense, so that the lands for which we have received bullets and threats and the processes that were taken to judicial instances and until now have not seen results, “Ortiz stressed.

“To think of Doña Mariana is to live, it is to remember her ancestral wisdom, her wisdom as a Bribri woman, that example, that guide, that advice always ready to continue in the fight, that opinion always calmly; but with great decision. She was always fighting, teaching, setting an example, she always called for important decisions to be taken with time, calmly for her people and other indigenous peoples and also for organizations and people that we had the pleasure of knowing her”, declared Gustavo Oreamuno Vignet, defender of Human Rights of the Coordinadora de Lucha Sur Sur.

Delgado was also part of the Rural Women’s Network and its history.

Alejandra Bonilla, from the Tinamaste Association, who has accompanied the organizing process of the Rural Women’s Network since its inception, said that she remembers Mariana “as a very sweet woman, although she was always in the fight,” and very affable in her relationships. .

“She was a woman who listened attentively to what was happening elsewhere, in other environments. And she was promoting the recovery of Bribri traditions and spirituality. She had a critical reading of these fundamentalist forms of religion that have penetrated her territories and that made her have a particular light,” Bonilla commented.

Bonilla said that on one occasion they visited the territory that Mariana and her family had recovered, with Aura Lolita Chaves, Guatemalan Quiché and women of the Network.

“We went where their ranch and crops had been burned. They burned the land. With the Guatemalan compañera and the compañeras from the Network, an activity was carried out to heal the earth and they put seeds in the earth, they put sugar so that the insects would move. I think it was a very emotional activity because it was the meeting between indigenous cultures from different sides of Mesoamerica; but with a lot of affinity. It was an activity that she valued very much, with compañeras from other territories and peasant compañeras accompanying this process of healing the land that had been violated,” recalled Bonilla.

Delgado Morales was a community researcher at the Center for Research in Culture and Development (CICDE) of the State Distance University (UNED).

Alejandra Bonilla also recovered this facet of Delgado. “The role she played contributing to the investigation team on the situation of indigenous territories seems very important to me and I also want to highlight what she, as a woman, had experienced and suffered, for example, when they mark cattle with an iron to brand cattle. your son”.

“I knew they were dealing with monstrous racism. As a woman she was very brave because all her work in the research process was always associated with the recovery of the territory and the Bribri culture. She was mediated by all this that they were living. And of course not only these atrocities occur, but also the murder of Sergio (Rojas), who was very close to her as well,” Bonilla highlighted.

the traces it leaves

For Bonilla, the traces that Delgado leaves behind are several. First, her decision to defend her territory, “because that was for her in the first place.”

Second, the link between the defense of the territory and the rights of women. “In many meetings that we had on the Internet, she did not shy away from saying and acknowledging that in the territory and within the relationships that were inherited from domination and racism there was and continues to be machismo. I think this critical reading was very important,” said Bonilla.

And third, his re-reading of spirituality and how this dispossession of indigenous territories is inserted within a capitalist system. “Mariana manages to have this critical reading of Costa Rican society.”

Fanny Reyes hopes tomorrow “to continue remembering her and vindicating that fight of hers for the territory and for the rights of women within her territory, always accompanying them and seeking how to denounce different manifestations of violence against women.”

“I hope that what she sowed continues in the life and daily life of the people who knew her,” Reyes highlighted. “I feel that she left that seed of defense for the rights of communities and women. She was a very brave woman and she did not give up her fight and her fight together with her relatives.

“I believe that her legacy will be forever, indelible within the Bribri people, the original peoples, the women of the original peoples and beyond. Her transforming love will always be with us and she will be a guide for the struggle and resistance,” said Gustavo Oreamuno.

Indigenous leader leaves an indelible legacy of defense of territory and women’s rights • Semanario Universidad