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Tuesday, March 26 2019 @ 12:10 PM UTC

UN Says The Exploitation Of Natural Resources Must Be Discussed With The Indigenous People First

Environmental IssuesThe special rapporteur from the UN, James Anaya, said on Friday that any natural resources exploitation intended to be carried out in indigenous regions must be discussed with the indigenous people first.

Anaya’s statement refers to the hydroelectric project Barro Blanco, which is being developed in the Tabasara River, within the Ngäbe-Buglé region.

Anaya urged the Ngäbe-Buglé people and the Government to talk about this issue; however, he questioned the fact that the Government had granted this concession for the construction of the hydroelectric project without consulting the indigenous people about the project, and this is established in the international laws related to the rights of the indigenous people.

“Any exploitation of natural resources in indigenous regions must be consulted with the indigenous people,” said Anaya during a press conference.

He said the Government as well as the company in charge of this project (Genisa) has the responsibility of respecting and protecting the rights of the Ngäbes.

In this sense, he said the Government must strengthen and work in implementing public policies in favor of the indigenous people, abiding with the international standards.

He said this after the implementation of a comprehensive plan of development and the consensus’ agreement to the 939 convention, said Anaya, who toured the different indigenous regions of the country.


Celio Guerra, president of the General Congress Ngäbe-Buglé, rejected Anaya’s recommendations and reported there is a division within the region created by the Government of the President Ricardo Martinelli after he insisted in interfering with their internal affairs.

According to Guerra, they have named new delegates, parallel congresses, and chiefs with the support of the Government, and such is the case of the chief Silvia Carrera. He said they have done this to negotiate agreements that are “harmful” to the interests of the indigenous people.

Among these agreements he mentioned Law 11 from March 26, 2012, which allowed and legalized the hydroelectric project Barro Blanco, which according to Guerra, was settled with the support of Carrera.

“We don’t want further government interference in our internal affairs,” he said. Contrary to what Guerra said, the chief Silvia Carrera said she has allowed the participation of the people in the conversations she has had with the authorities.

Also, he reported the eviction of the indigenous people from their lands by the company GENISA, in charge of the project Barro Blanco, which is why he requested the Government once again to suspend this project. (Prensa)

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