Contributed by: Don WinnerForeign Minister Roberto Henriquez said on Tuesday, 7 February 2012, that the Government is not promoting mining in the Ngäbe Bugle region. Henríquez explained as part of Bill No. 415, Article No. 3, contains a prohibition on the granting of concessions for exploration, mining exploration and extraction of metal, and Article No. 4 prohibits the alteration of river channels at the heads of the rivers, and the private appropriation of water sources within the region and adjoining areas. The bill passed the first reading in the National Assembly and was approved unanimously, even by opposition deputies, he said.
ARGUMENTS - Following the agreement reached in San Felix, after the riots of February 2011, the Indians decided to introduce another (new) text in which they proposed the cancellation of existing concessions that have already been granted to both domestic and foreign companies for the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources, and for the construction of hydroelectric projects in the region, the surrounding areas, and in other ngäbes communities (that are not part of the comarca) said the chancellor while speaking on the channel 13 Telemetro Report morning news broadcast. In that sense, Henriquez said that text is much more extensive than what had been agreed previously. Today, there is a new attempt at dialogue which they hope, according to Henriquez, to put an end to the conflict.
One person has been reported killed, dozens injured, and more than 100 people were arrested as the result of the clashes that occurred between riot control police officers and the protesting Indians in the region on Sunday. The conflicts and clashes have been ongoing since Sunday morning, and have extended to other areas of the country in solidarity with the protesters, and against the actions of force that were used to reopen the Inter American Highway.
The Foreign Minister said they hope to move forward because obviously the indigenous people and the Government do not share the same vision with regards to hydroelectric development. We must find a balance that allows us to live in peace, he said. Government Minister, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, traveled to Chiriqui this morning to try to establish a dialogue with the leaders from the comarca, who kept the Inter American highway closed for six days, leading to clashes and economic losses. (Prensa)
Editor's Comment: The government doesn't need the copper mining project in Cerro Colorado anymore, because they have the massive Inmet copper project. So, there's no need whatsoever for the government to grant mining concessions within the comarca. The problem has arisen because the protesting indigenous Ngäbe Buglé Indians are trying to expand the original agreement to include hydro-electrical projects, and the agreement reached in San Felix last year didn't mention those types of projects. The Indians are also trying to greatly expand the scope - to include a prohibition and cancellation of all mining concessions that have been granted, everywhere (read: Inmet and Petaquilla). And that's where the environmentalists and activists come in. They don't want this copper mine project to go forward, and they are willing to do anything whatsoever to stop it. The other opposition politicians are piling on, because they won't pass up a quick and easy opportunity to score points. All of this was designed to drag the administration into a fight and force them to use force to clear the highway, so they could claim "repression." Manipulative bullshit political games. In fact, the guys who are forming all of these problems want to be in charge (so they can steal the money) when the Inmet mine starts producing, in about four years or so. And in order to do that, they first have to beat the CD in 2014. Yup, I see the political angle in everything, because that's what's happening.