Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Panama - Indigenous protesters block roads and hold two government officials
Protesters burn an effigy of Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli in Panama City February 24, 2011. Thousands of people took to the streets in protest against the government's decision to pave way for Canada's Inmet Mining to build the largest copper mine in Central America.
28.02.2011 - The Indians of the Ngöbe Bugle continue their protests to achieve the repeal of Act 8 of 2011 which amends the Mining Code. The last time an advisor to the Vice Minister of Labor, Luis Ernesto Carles, as well as Carles himself, were offended, had water thrown on them, and they were beaten when they came to try to mediate. This time a similar fate has befallen friends of the Governor of Chiriqui, Aixa Santamaría. The Governor's Assistant, Kathia Smith and her driver Gerald Palacios have been retained inside of their vehicle at the intersection of San Felix, in another day of anti-mining demonstrations. The two officials, who are employees of the provincial authority, were intercepted by the Indians as they returned from Panama from a meeting. All four tires of the vehicle they were driving have been punctured, and on their vehicle it was written "Now it is the the turn of the Gnäbe people", a mockery of the government's slogan "now it's the people's turn."
Panama City - Feb 25, 2011 - Hundreds of Panamanian Indians blocked stretches of the Pan-American highway Friday for a second consecutive day, hoping to get President Ricardo Martinelli to overturn a controversial new mining law.
Protesters burned tires and used tree trunks to halt traffic in at least four spots on the highway, which links Panama City with Costa Rica, an AFP journalist reported.
Many of the protesters carried machetes and bows and arrows, and some donned face paint or wore ski masks.
"We are expecting the president to overturn this law that affects us so much as soon as possible," Felix Rodriguez, the head of the Ngobe-Bugle Indians, told AFP.
Martinelli "has to pay attention to us," said Rodriguez, who was at a road block in the eastern Chiriqui province. Police were absent from the area.
Scores of cars and trucks had been stranded on the highway, which among other things is used by trucks moving goods that arrive by ship to Panama destined to other Central American nations.
There was no reports of violence or arrests. Similar protests were held Thursday.
Marches and demonstrations have been going on for weeks even though the conservative Martinelli administration on Tuesday issued a decree banning mining in Indian territory.
Lawmakers in Panama on February 10 approved legislation to attract foreign investment to its mining industry, despite opposition from students and indigenous groups.
Martinelli and his supporters in the National Assembly argue that mining could be Panama's second largest source of income after fees from the trans-oceanic canal.
Students, environmentalists and indigenous groups, however, fear changes to the mining code -- untouched since the 1960s -- would spoil the pristine jungle and force Indian communities to relocate.
Polls have shown that most Panamanians believe an increase in mining would hurt the environment and Indian communities.
Posted by sysiphus at 04:16