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Panama: Natives oppose mining

Friday, February 17, 2012

WHAT In a demonstration last week, which resulted in the death of a protestor and the closure for several days of the PanAmerican Highway, hundreds of native Guaymi people confronted security forces, demanding an end to extraction industries in their territory of Ngoble Bugle, in northeast Panama.

WHY The Guaymi claim that the mines cause dangerous pollution.

WHAT NEXT A financial settlement could solve the problem. Five mines have been operating in Ngoble Bugle without major objections for several years, during which time metal and mineral prices have risen sharply. Meanwhile, royalties paid to local communities have not kept pace with these changes.

Failure to reach an agreement could be even more costly. Panama would likely have to pay billions of dollars in compensation, if it ordered the closure of existing mines, which have a legal right to operate. The entire region would pay a big economic price, if there were to be costant interuption of traffic on the PanAmerican Highway, which moves vast quantities of products from the Panamanian port of Colón – Central America’s bigget – to markets throughout the region.

For more information, please contact Esteban Alvarez, at [email protected]