President Laura Chinchilla signs Law 9223. Photo by Emily Yozell.
Presidenta Laura Chinchilla signs Law 9223. Photo by Emily Yozell.

Last week, something historic quietly happened in Costa Rica. After a lengthy uphill political and legislative battle lasting nearly 10 years, a bill that few in the outside world have ever heard of was finally signed into law by outgoing Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla.

This tenuous victory is but the latest chapter in the trials and tribulations of the oft forgotten Afro-Descendant minorities that make their home on the shores of the Caribbean Sea.

Law 9223, Recognition of the Rights of Inhabitants of the South Caribbean, does something apparently quite simple: It removes several long-standing coastal communities occupying some 900 acres along Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast from the confines of the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge.

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