With murder suspects in jail, Costa Rican conservationists call for better protection

August 1, 2013

Despite Wednesday morning’s arrests of eight suspects in the Jairo Mora murder case, a small group of protesters gathered outside the Environment Ministry in San José Wednesday afternoon, to keep pressure and shine a light on threats to environmental workers in Costa Rica. 

The demonstration, organized by the Center for Biological Diversity, was originally organized to protest a lack of arrests on the two-month anniversary of Mora’s murder. But with numerous suspects now in custody, the small group in attendance promoted a different message: one of conservation for the future.

“We want to see true changes in conservation policies on the Caribbean,” said Randall Arauz, president of Marine Turtle Restoration Program. “We need the Caribbean to start taking this turtle business seriously and to enforce the law.”

The protest coincided with the presentation of a petition to the Costa Rican consulate in Los Angeles. The petition, presented by the Center for Biological Diversity, included nearly 140,000 signatures and urged Costa Rica to bring Mora’s killers to justice. Six other countries held similar demonstrations.

Environmentalists, like WIDECAST’s Didiher Chacón, have pointed out that although arrests have been made, justice will not be served until convictions are handed down. According to a press release from Costa Rica’s judiciary on Thursday, each of the men in custody have recieved six months of preventative detention while awaiting a trial. 

Two women who were also arrested during Wednesday morning raids were released pending upcoming hearings on possession of stolen property and poaching.

In the meantime, environmental groups have expressed hope that the arrests will be a step toward making sea turtle protection safer for conservationists.

“I used to counsel young people about getting involved with turtle conservation in Costa Rica,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network and protest organizer. “Since this happened my conscience wouldn’t allow me to do that. Hopefully this is getting us closer to where we were.”

 

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