Open Mining 'Hell' in Panama

From Envio magazine via Mirada Global:

Since 1997 there is in Panama a legally defined territory: the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca, of around 4 thousand sq. km., as the result of a long and bloody conflict....A little over 110 thousand Indians from the Ngäbe and Buglé peoples live in the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca, 55% of a total population of 200 thousand.....


At present there are more schools and infirmaries in the zone, as well as some baldly built roads...95% of the population of this Comarca still live in poverty —75% in “dire poverty”—, 60% are considered illiterate in Spanish and are treated as pariahs because they speak their own languages and because of the color of their skin.......

As if these people didn’t have to face enough problems, projects and more projects are now being put forward “for the country’s development”.
In 1977, 33 years ago already, the Cerro Colorado exploitation project —considered the second largest copper (gold and silver) mine in the world— hovered over the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé like an eagle ready to catch its prey. Since then, technical studies have analyzed the project and denounced the deadly danger that the Indians of the entire Comarca were exposed to, and the negative consequences of this mining exploitation not only for these communities, but for the entire country.
It was proved then that an “open skies” mine in Cerro Colorado —wouldn’t it be better to call it “open hell”?— meant the ecological and ethnical death of many communities. There was international solidarity and they succeeded in getting many people together in order to face the “monster”. The mining possibility was denounced by multiple groups, especially by Bishop David Núñez, who was joined by all the Catholic bishops of the country.
The companies involved, Codemin and Canada’s sadly famous Río Tinto Zinc, decided, after plundering the country of a huge amount of gold, that they wouldn’t exploit the mine because the price of copper wasn’t high enough at the moment. They didn’t care for the known social, ecological, cultural, not even political effects, and decided to leave purely on economic reasons. They gave us a “break” and now they are charging again.

Also available in Spanish.

Tim Reidy


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