Monday, February 6, 2012

At least one killed in environmental protests in Panama (updated: three killed)

Pasado y Futuro[es] reports today on the police terrorism unleashed against the largest native people of Panama, the Ngäbe-Buglé or Guaymí nation, causing at least one death and scores of injured and arrested.

The conflict arose because of the retreat in the Panamanian Parliament of a law which would have forbidden any new hydroelectric or mining infrastructure in the Ngöbe-Buglé comarca (autonomous district). As result the native peoples walked out in protest closing roads, notably the Pan-American Highway, to what the state replied with uniformed ultra-violence with the already mentioned most sad consequences. 

The Guaymí territory includes a mining boon, the Cerro Colorado, which is very rich in copper and coveted by Canadian and Korean mining multinationals. In addition President Martinelli, argued that the conflict was triggered by hydroelectric projects. 

According to government sources the fights have alreayd caused 32 civilian and 7 uniformed casualties (injured), as well as 41 people arrested. Among the victims is the Ombudswoman, Patria Portugal, who was attacked by police when trying to impede that young children were arrested. 

Police has entered by force in the community of San Félix, breaking into many private homes and even shooting with gas munitions against a hospital.

Update: LINyM[es] has some more info:
  • The number of deaths is now of two (min.). They are Jerónimo Ródríguez Tugri (aka Jerónimo Montezuma) and Francisco Miranda.
  • While official sources deny that police used live ammo, many images like the one above show otherwise.
  • There are at least three hydroelectric projects by the US-based AES Corporation that attack native communities. The first one is already finished and forced the evacuation of two communities. AES extracted fingerprint signature from an illiterate native and used it as legal pretext for the development business. AES has previously destroyed other native communities in Panama.
  • The main mining project in native territory is actually by the hand of Panamanian company Petaquilla Mineral, however Canadian company Inmet and Korean LS-Nikko Copper and Korean Resources Corporation are involved in other mining projects equally dangerous.
  • President Ricardo Martinelli is popularly known as El Loco (the madman). He has many connections with organized drug trafficking, either via his closest relatives or via the former public servants of Colombian ex-President Álvaro Uribe. The Wikileaks cables included at least 100 on him, including his demand to Washington to spy on political opponents. 
Update 2:
    A Panamanian policeman shoots with live fire

    From Frenadeso (which also has several videos and sound files).

    Update 3 (Feb 8):

    The number of people killed has reached the figure of three, as the minor Mauricio Méndez, 16, was shot on the face by a policeman near the border with Costa Rica.

    Also it has been reported that policemen raped women in San Félix one of the most affected communities.

    Source: Pasado y Futuro[es].

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