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Volume 17, Number 13
January 30, 2012
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news special

Also in this section:
Martinelli tries to weather scandals and avoid cabinet changes
Election law changes, another stab at the Mining Code in January
"Conejando" in Panama: what big ears Colombia's exiled spy chief has
Main canal expansion contractor barely staves off bankruptcy --- for now
Noriega settles in at El Renacer, legal skirmishing begins
Martinelli gets his solid Supreme Court majority
Residents and interns on strike at David hospital
Vaclav Havel’s human rights legacy
The failure of the Durban climate talks
The ECB's high wire act
The Internet and Latin America: cyber-security issues
The China - Latin America summit in Lima
South America consolidates its role as an emerging power
South America and Cold War II
When Italian waste companies come here, red flags should pop up

Many things that used to be in a Panama News Briefs feature of the website have now migrated to our constantly updated Facebook page


On January 24, after Cambio Democratico legislators struck an agreed-upon provision to ban mining in the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca from a proposed mining law, General Cacique Silvia Carrera went to the legislature and these protesters turned out in San Felix, in both places warning that if the mining ban, which had been promised by the Martinelli administration as part of an agreement to end last year's road-blocking protests was not put back into the law then on January 30 the blockades would go up again.

Another indigenous uprising over mining
photos by Guaire Mendögüänë Morera Bägämä, videos by AEVE

The Martinelistas have been bragging for months on the floor of the National Assembly that their word is worthless, and to emphasize the point they are in the process of breaking their promise that they would ban mining in the Ngabe-Bugle Comarca, whose people are disposed to resist their direct or indirect displacement by projects that take their land or water, or which contaminate their water supply. That the copper-rich Cerro Colorado, which is the headwaters for streams from which about one-third of the people of the comarca drink and sustain their animals, is considered sacred to some traditionalists, adds an extra spiritual dimension to public opinion in the area.

There are also non-indigenous people outside of the comarca who use those rivers as a water source, or who have invested in tourism businesses that would be compromised if the rivers stopped flowing or carried industrial wastes. Polls have consistently shown that around 80 percent of all Panamanians oppose strip mining for various reasons.

The deadline came and went, and people came down from the hills to block the roads. If the government figured that by throwing out some Spanish journalists last year they'd prevent outside notice of what's going on in and around the comarca, what they didn't figure is that the locals would have improved their media game, which they have.

As this story was written on the evening of January 30 there were burning barricades across the Pan-American Highway at San Felix and Vigui, and hundreds of riot police massing. Other Ngabe protesters were blocking the road between Changuinola and Almirante in Bocas del Toro.


Coming down from the hills into San Felix, January 30


These folks came from Bocas to protest in Chiriqui


A traditional call to action


The police move in







    

Also in this section:
Martinelli tries to weather scandals and avoid cabinet changes
Election law changes, another stab at the Mining Code in January
"Conejando" in Panama: what big ears Colombia's exiled spy chief has
Main canal expansion contractor barely staves off bankruptcy --- for now
Noriega settles in at El Renacer, legal skirmishing begins
Martinelli gets his solid Supreme Court majority
Residents and interns on strike at David hospital
Vaclav Havel’s human rights legacy
The failure of the Durban climate talks
The ECB's high wire act
The Internet and Latin America: cyber-security issues
The China - Latin America summit in Lima
South America consolidates its role as an emerging power
South America and Cold War II
When Italian waste companies come here, red flags should pop up



© 2012 by Eric Jackson
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