FAQ

How do I purchase a copy of The Living Documents?

Please email thelivingdocs@gmail.com if you are interested in obtaining a copy of the film.

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What is the current status of the land sold by Tsokos?

Following the death of her husband, Maria Acosta did not pursue the cases against Peter Tsokos any further. Some of the disputed lands remain under private ownership.

Why are the indigenous communities losing their land?

MP_HouseThe struggle of the indigenous people of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua can be largely attributed to a lack of documentation, specifically written titles for their land. In 1987 the Autonomy Statue for the Regions of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (Law 28) attempted to strengthen the cultural identities of the coastal communities that make up about 10% of the total national population. It recognizes that “the Nicaraguan people are by nature multi-ethnic; recognizes the rights of the Communities of the Atlantic Coast to preserve their languages, religions, art, and culture, to use and enjoy the communal waters, forests, and lands, to create programs which further their development and ensure the rights of these Communities to organize themselves and to live in the ways which correspond to their legitimate traditions” To read more about Law 28, go to http://calpi.nativeweb.org/doc_3.html.

While the law recognizes the right to own communal property, it did not initially provide a mechanism to obtain titles. More recently, Law 445 established this procedure. The Rama-Kriol Territorial Government (GTRK) formed to represent 9 communities and was granted a title on December 20, 2009. Among the beneficiary communities are Wiring Key, Monkey Point and Rama Key, all featured in The Living Documents due to their proximity to Long Beach, Bocal Key and Frenchman Key, properties that Peter Tsokos has advertised for sale. According to law 445, whoever holds a title or believes they have rights to property within Indigenous territory must come forward to the government administrative agency to determine its legality. Generally speaking, anyone not in possession of the land with a written title prior to 1987 will not have legal rights to it.

The Pearl Keys are being claimed as part of the Pearl Lagoon Basin’s property. This title is still pending.

Written titles are of course only effective if the government protects Indigenous land without discrimination. This is an on-going struggle.

What really happened in the Frank Garcia case?

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Ivan Arguello and his accomplice Wilberto Ochoa Maradiaga rented the apartment below Frank (Francisco José García Valle) and Maria days prior to the murder and disappeared immediately after. They were identified as primary suspects. With further investigation, it was revealed the Arguello had worked for Peter Tsokos as his private security guard in Managua. Upon capture in Costa Rica, Arguello declared that he was sent by Tsokos to commit the murder. Despite this, Judges in Nicaragua refused to call him to testify.

The weapon used to murder Garcia was registered to Peter Martinez, Tsokos’ attorney. It was found in Martinez’s possession following the crime. This evidence also was never admitted into trial.

Arguello and Maradiaga were both found guilty of “murder for hire.”

Tsokos and Martinez were never formally identified as suspects. Acosta submitted an appeal to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) claiming violations were carried out by the State of Nicaragua against Francisco José García Valle and his family regarding their right to Humane Treatment, a Fair Trial and Judicial Protection. She was granted a hearing in October 2013.

The main function of the IACHR is to promote the observance and defense of human rights by investigating allegations of human rights violations.

Why is Maria’s case a human rights concern?

RamaFamilyWhen Acosta gave her deposition before Judge Acuna the Criminal Judge of the District of Bluefields, she named Peter Tsokos and his lawyer Peter Martinez as the intellectual authors of her husband’s murder. Fearing for her own safety, Acosta moved to Chinandega in the northwest part of Nicaragua.

Peter Martinez asserted that Acosta was giving false declarations to the judge in order to mislead the court. Acuna allowed these accusations and drew up a charge against Acosta. He called her in to give another statement, suspecting she had been complicit in a cover-up of her husband’s murder.

Although Judge Acuna could have asked the Criminal Court Judge of Chinandega to take Acosta’s testimony, he instead insisted that she return to Bluefields. He also refused to allow her to give power of attorney to a representative to present her testimony. When she did not appear immediately, he issued a warrant for her arrest.

The judge violated her guarantees of due process, access to justice and right to a defense.

In May 2002, cases against Acosta, Tsokos and Martinez were all simultaneously dropped. Acosta believes that the case was not given a full and proper investigation.

Peter Tsokos was able to get a civil judge in Bluefields to put a lien on Acosta’s house for US$100,000 for supposed damages plus 30% for supposed legal costs.

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) considers that Maria Luisa Acosta is a victim of persecution and harassment by Peter Tsokos, Peter Martinez and Judge Acuna. According to CENIDH, they are seeking to end her investigation into the murder of her husband and her legal support for the indigenous peoples’ land rights struggle.