A stateless person is one who has no recognized nationality or citizenship by any country or Commissioner.
In January I was in the south of the country (Coto Brus) doing documentary photography field work commissioned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on a population at risk of statelessness in the ancestral village of the Ngobe Bugle Nations. The vast majority of this population was born in Panama and spent many years in the mountains on the Costa Rican side of the border working the coffee harvest (and others).
Many have remained in the country and, although their children were born in tico territory, because of their way of life (completely outside of the system) and often for fear of being deported, they never registered their children. Today there are many people between 20-30 years old that have no identity card or nationality. Because of this they are also denied basic human rights such as, among others, health and education. To address this situation, the United Nations, the TSE (Supreme Electoral Tribunal) and Migration officials have begun to visit each individual case and initiate citizenship processes that almost always include the two countries.
I was tasked with traveling to the area to visualize their reality by spending one week visiting different families in their homes and jobs and documenting their daily lives and struggles. It was an amazing and intense internal experience to share with them their stories, to act as witness to their challenges, and listen to their dreams and frustrations. These trips always help me put my own life into perspective by observing other realities.
So thank you to all the families who shared with me and opened the doors of their houses. It was a huge learning experience. The final work will be presented in a few months.