517 years resisting: we will keep fighting
PANAMA. Panama’s Ngobe Bugle population are calling on indigenous people throughout Panama to unite to fight for their ancestral land r...
PANAMA. Panama’s Ngobe Bugle population are calling on indigenous people throughout Panama to unite to fight for their ancestral land rights and social justice against what they see as oppression by transnational mining, hydroelectric and tourism companies and government authorities.
In particular, they are calling on President Ricardo Martinelli to respect the findings of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights which said that the land in Charco de Pavo where AES developed their hydroelectric project known as Chan-75 should be returned to the indigenous people.
They are also asking for their collective rights to lands in the Comarca to be respected and for the government’s Land Title Project (PRONAT) to stop allocating individual titles.
And they want the Petaquillla gold mine to be closed and all laws and concessions to foreign mining, hydroelectric and tourism companies that have expropriated what they see as their traditional coastal and other lands and islands to be revoked.
Protests about land rights from various indigenous groups have been growing more vocal and more defiant in recent months.
Last week in Chiriqui, Ngobe-Bugle people protested at the thermal springs in Galique, San Felix, after the municipal council threatened to evict them. The authorities say that the springs are on municipal land belonging to Juay district.
“We have never stopped them from using the thermal waters for their medicine, but they can’t live permanently there,” a municipal spokesman said.
Meanwhile in Panama, five months after they were evicted from the San San Druy community in Bocas del Toro by a farming company, the Naso people continue to protest in Cathedral Plaza.
Now, the newly-formed Popular National Front for Indigenous and Rural People of Panama is planning a 370 km march on the capital leaving the Comarca Ngobe Bugle on 17 September and arriving in the city two weeks later. They are also planning a march to the presidency from Parque Porras of all protesting indigenous and rural groups on October 12.
“517 years resisting. We will keep fighting,” they said.