San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Bambuzal Campesinos Kicked Out Again

APPROXIMATELY 40 landlessmen, women and children who have beencamping out on the steps of theGoicochea courthouse in San José inprotest have been told, once again, toleave and not come back.Police removed the group from thesteps last week for the second time in asmany weeks. The campesinos, 16 ofwhich were detained, have been orderedto stay away from the court.The campesinos had camped out on thesteps for more than four months, awaiting ajudge to hear the case of their land disputewith Standard Fruit Company, a subsidiaryof Dole. The parties are fighting over rightsto the El Bambuzal farm in Río Frío deSarapiquí, northeast of San José.Standard Fruit officials say they haveowned and used the property since 1968 forcomposting and growing bamboo – hencethe name Bambuzal (TT, May 21, 2004).The campesinos insist they have propertyrights since occupying the farm off and onfor more than three years. The court battlesbetween the two have lasted nearly as long.This is the second time the group hasmade a public building their home in aneffort to draw attention to their cause.Last year, 120 campesino men, womenand children fighting for the Bambuzalland spent three months living in theMetropolitan Cathedral in downtown SanJosé (TT, Aug. 13, 2004).After a short stint in a small lot acrossfrom the disputed land, some of thecampesinos returned to San José to thecourt steps, where, until their recentremoval, they had been spending theirdays and nights, cooking, sleeping, makingprotest signs and playing cards.The next day in court for 16 of thecampesinos is scheduled for sometime inAugust, when they will face long-standingtrespassing charges for entering theBambuzal lands. An earlier court absolvedthem of the charges, but the decision waslater reversed by a higher court.The campesinos say they are preparinga case to present to the Inter-AmericanHuman Rights Commission, althoughthey said they same when they left thecathedral in August 2004.

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