SAN JOSE, Costa Rica— Conservation organizations and citizens are taking to the streets of San José, Costa Rica today, two months after the murder of environmentalist Jairo Mora Sandoval. They are marching from the Ministry of the Environment and Energy to the Judicial Investigation Organism to the Legislative Assembly to deliver a petition signed by more than 137,000 people from around the world who demand justice for the murdered sea turtle activist. OIJ made several arrests this morning in connection with Jairo’s murder.
Other events are planned around the globe, including in Spain, Germany, El Salvador, Ecuador, India and Australia, along with the United States, where a petition will be delivered to the Costa Rican embassy in Los Angeles, Calif.
Jairo was a 26-year-old sea turtle defender working to protect nesting sea turtles from poaching and other threats on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast in Moín, near Limón, Costa Rica. While on sea turtle patrol, he was kidnapped and tortured by at least five armed criminals on May 30. His body was discovered early in the morning on May 31. Four women — three Americans and a Spaniard — were also kidnapped but escaped uninjured.
“Jairo lost his life fighting our battle, saving the leatherbacks of Moin beach” said Vanessa Lizano of Costa Rica Wildlife Sanctuary. “People have tried to stop us from seeking justice, from keeping Moin safe; I will not stop our fight. I will continue until my last days.”
“It has been two months since Jairo’s murder, and finally today arrests were made,” said Jaclyn Lopez, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “We will not be satisfied until Jairo’s killers are behind bars.”
“We are pleased the authorities have finally taken action. We hope today’s arrests will lead to justice for Jairo” said Randall Arauz, president of Pretoma.
Sea turtle poaching and drug trafficking continue to threaten the lives of humans and sea turtles, in the process endangering Costa Rica’s image as an ecotourist mecca. Costa Rica’s Caribbean beaches have seen an increase in sea turtle poaching, and Jairo’s murder has forced an abrupt halt to protection efforts in Moín.
In addition to the petition, conservation organizations have organized a Jairo Mora Sandoval Reward, which has grown to about $56,000, and a Jairo Mora Sandoval Memorial Fund, which has grown to over $10,000 (see www.seaturtles.org/donateforjustice).