Campesinos Invaded Metropolitan Cathedral

December 24, 2004

MORE than 100 campesinos involved in a land dispute with the banana exporter Standard Fruit Company, a subsidiary of Dole, returned in July to the outskirts of the farm to which they claim rights after living in the Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown San José for more than three months. They came to the capital seeking support in their land dispute with the banana giant, but returned when they were weary of the city and had decided to continue the fight from the countryside. They had squatted on the farm, called El Bambuzal, near Río Frío de Sarapiquí in the north-central part of the country, off and on since 2001 and believe they earned permanent rights to the land under Costa Rican law. Campesino leaders said they planned to take their case to the Inter- American Human Rights Commission in Washington, D.C. President Abel Pacheco said the land belongs to Standard, and said the government in the past had offered other land to eligible campesinos but they had refused.

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