Human rights defender
Lottie Marie advocates for the rights of indigenous peoples. She is the founder of an organizations which focus on the human rights of the Indigenous and Afro-descendant Peoples in Nicaragua. Lottie Marie also works as a lawyer. She aim to defend the territories and natural resources of the Indigenous Peoples of Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast. In 2001, together with her team, she managed to obtain a sentence in favour of the local community in the landmark case “Awas Tingi v. Nicaragua”, brought in front of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. This resulted in the clear demarcation of 23 indigenous territories, and ownership titles for 325 indigenous and afro-descendant communities. However, a lot remains to be done to implement legal decisions, and conflicts about the land between indigenous populations and newcomers remain numerous.
Human rights violations in Nicaragua
Indigenous Coast populations in Nicaragua face many challenges when it comes to enjoying full access to and use of their lands. Tree cutting and intensive farming from third parties contradict their traditional way of living and cultivating their land in respect with the environment. So far, the State of Nicaragua has failed to provide indigenous territories with legal and effective security, and not followed up on the Inter-American Court judgement. Since 2015, the level of violence between indigenous people and settlers has risen to an alarming level on the North Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. More than 50 indigenous communities are under the threat of murder, abduction, firearm attacks and the burning of crops, leaving more than 3000 displaced. In such a context, indigenous rights defenders are particularly vulnerable and prone to violent attacks and killings. As the government often sides with business and companies, such crimes mostly go unpunished.
Threats and harassment
Lottie Marie works in a permanent situation of danger, fearing for her own security and that of her family. She and her team have been the victim of many death threats, intimidations and defamation campaigns.