Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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Culture clash

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Indigenous people and other ethnic minorities are flexing their muscle in much of Central America.

Some of the conflicts can likely be resolved by agreements, which distribute income more fairly.

At least in one case, the solution seems about to start.

Others involve disputes, which are more basic, and which could be hard to settle.

An issue of shared resources seems to underlie clashes in northeastern Panama, between police and the Ngöbé Buglé people, the country’s biggest indigenous group.

The Ngöbé Buglé are protesting against the use of their land for hydroelectric projects, and for mines, which they say pollute their farms and water supply.

Meanwhile, the Boruca tribe of Costa Rica opposes the construction of a 620-megawatt dam on the Terraba River.

The Ngöbé Buglé have been blockading the Panamerican Highway, which carries significant cargo from Panamanian ports to businesses not only in Costa Rica, but to the rest of the region.

For their part, the Boruca have held up development of a dam, which Costa Rica needs, in order to keep up with demand for cheap, renewable power.

The solution in both cases could involve more royalty payments to local people, who feel that others benefit from these projects, while they get little or nothing.

In Nicaragua, cattle ranchers and loggers are expanding in the direction of the Mosquito Coast, according to a United Nations report.

Temperatures in the area rose last month, when a Miskito community seized 12 non-natives.

The Miskito plan to hold them hostage, in exchange for for lands seized by settlers, which the natives claim have been theirs since pre Columbian times.