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Saturday, May 26 2018 @ 05:40 PM EDT

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Ngäbe Bugle Coordinating Committee Rejects Government's Proposal on Article 5 of Bill 415

Gold & MiningThe dialog over the controversial Article 5 of Bill 415 resumed with the words of Monsignor José Luis Lacunza, between the Coalition in Defense of the Rights of Natural Resources and the Rights of the Ngäbe Bugle people, the representatives of the Executive branch of government, the Deputies of the National Assembly, and their guarantors. Although they have not yet reached an ultimate consensus, the people of the Ngäbe Bugle, through their General Chieftain Silvia Carrera, said they would not accept the proposal presented by the government. The members of the Indian Coordinator, asked for 5 minutes to transcribe the consensus of the committee, and then to read it on the premises. (Panama America)

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The Idea Of A Referendum On Hydroelectric Issue Gaining Momentum

Gold & MiningThe idea of ​holding a national referendum to approve or reject hydro electric projects in the Ngäbe-Buglé region gained strength yesterday among the sectors seeking to reach a consensus on the controversial Article 5 of Bill 415. One of those who made a statement on the issue was president Ricardo Martinelli, who said via his Twitter account if there is no agreement on the issue of hydro power, there will be a referendum to determine if the "hydro electric projects can be built in areas annexed or adjacent to the Ngäbe-Buglé region, or if the (restriction) should only apply to the Ngäbe-Buglé region itself." The president added "no law is above the decision of the people who cast their ballots in a national referendum for or against a proposal. That is democracy."

Following Maqrtinelli's announcement, the Minister of Trade and Industry Ricardo Quijano and the Minister of Government Jorge Ricardo Fabrega, who are participating in the special committee appointed to try to seek a consensus, said if for some reason their talks fail and they cannot reach an agreement on the issue of the generation of hydro electric power, then it will fall to the Panamanian people to decide through a national referendum the fate of the hydro electric projects. "There are people who are considering the possibility of a national referendum so that all of the Panamanian people can decide what's what," said Quijano, who did not rule out the possibility of other alternatives which could also be used to address the issue. He said for now they are focused on seeing if the rewritten Article 5 is approved in order to reconcile all interests.

About the proposal (for a possible referendum), the General Chieftain of the Ngäbe-Bugle region, Silvia Carrera, said her people are not willing to convene a referendum at this time. She added this is not what Martinelli promised, and what the people are asking for respect for the law that protects them. On Wednesday, February 15 at 2:00 pm, the government representatives, National Assembly Deputies, and the leaders of the indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé Indians will meet again to discuss the aspects related to hydroelectric projects in the region. At Carrera's request, the subcommittee approved a two-day recess, time when the indigenous representatives traveled to the Ngäbe-Buglé region to participate in the funeral of Jeronimo Montezuma, who died during protests in the province of Chiriqui.

The subcommittee approved the wording of the first paragraph of Article 5, which now says "cancel all of the concessions granted to either individuals or companies, either foreign or domestic, for the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in the Ngäbe-Buglé region and annexed areas ... ".

March - While inside of the National Assembly the alternatives to amend Article 5 are being discussed, on the grounds outside of the Palacio Justo Arosemena, the members of the Ngäbe-Buglé ethnic group coordinated a march that ended at the Presidency of the Republic, in protests against the two people who were killed during the demonstrations. The Ngäbes and the Buglés hold the authorities responsible for the deaths of these two people. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: If no agreement can be reached on the issue of hydro electric power in Panama, then the government will hold a national referendum which will pass by a wide margin. Hydroelectric power is clean - if you're not generating power in Panama with hydro then you're burning coal or oil or some other kind of fuel. There are only about 100,000 Indians in the Ngäbe-Buglé region, who are trying to hold back the development of the entire country with a population of more than 3.3 million people. So fine - if they don't want mining or hydroelectric projects on their lands, then no problem. However they are trying to force a ban on all mining and hydroelectric projects in "annexed areas" and "adjacent areas" and "places where there are Ngäbe-Buglé communities." These are the issues that will probably not be resolved in this committee. Martinelli is signaling that, if there's no agreement, then he will hold a referendum, win it, and then he will have the backing and support of the Panamanian people to enforce their will, for them. Remember this "Chieftain" Carrera won a recent (rigged) election with only 27% of the vote - because for the most part the election was boycotted. As such she only actually represents about 27,000 people - or only 0.81% of the Panamanian people. No, she's not going to be able to enforce her will on this one.

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Donoso Mayor Will Have Larger Budget To Make Improvements

Gold & Mining This 2012, the Municipality of Donoso, located along the lower coast of the province of Colon, will have a budget of $530,908 dollars, after the full amount of the funds were approved for operations and the development of of various projects and work in the communities, said Abel Abu, the elected Representative of the jurisdiction of Gobea. Donoso, which is considered to be one of the poorest districts in Panama ("extreme poverty'), faces problems of litter on the beaches, the lack of clean water and a sanitary landfill, and there are no roads to reach areas of difficult access. Abu said last year the municipal budget was about $300,000 dollars, but this year, thanks to the contributions (taxes) from the two mining companies in the area, there was an increase in municipal revenues. According to the Mayor, they will use the money in the budget to address areas such as housing, education, sports, and community problems such as lack of drinking water, and the lack of an aqueduct which prevents the development of tourism. In addition there is no land designated to build a community landfill. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: So, thanks to the activities of the Petaquilla and Inmet mines, which operate in this jurisdiction, the local municipal budget increased by 76.9% in just one year. And these are municipal taxes, above and beyond what the mining companies are paying to the central government of Panama in taxes, royalties, or whatever else. Yeah, mining is evil... In reality now the municipal government of Donoso will be able to count on increasing annual budgets every year. Eventually this area of Panama will be transformed from one of "extreme poverty" to a "great place to live." And this is an example of why I like mining activities for Panama - it works on the math, where it matters.

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Celio Guerra Reiterates - He Should Be A Participant In Bill 415 Talks

Gold & MiningChanguinola, Bocas del Toro - The president of the Traditional General Congress of the Ño Kribo region, Celio Guerra, reiterated his request to be part of the negotiations taking place in the National Assembly in relation to Bill No. 415. Guerra said his presence in the debate is important because there are a large amount of hydro electric projects in the Northern part of the comarca. He said he was concerned about not being at the negotiation table, mainly because "we had a bad experience with the Chan 75 hydro electric project being build on the Changuinola river."

This week, Chief Silvia Carrera said she would not allow the entry of other Indians to the discussion table in the National Assembly, to which she arrived through the signing of the San Lorenzo 1 agreement (on 7 February 2012.) In the Assembly, Carrera asked the mediators of the dialogue "not to allow more outside people, who have no leadership in the region." According to the chieftain, "the Congress never consulted with the people, which has brought tragedy, grief, and there are still many missing."

In this regard, Guerra said the matter is that there are two indigenous congresses. One is led by him and which was endorsed in the election of traditional authorities. And there is another one that is recognized by the Government, which was elected on September 9, 2010, headed by Edilberto Sanchez. These elections, organized by the Electoral Tribunal, took place in a tense atmosphere and with high absenteeism (low levels or voter participation.) Sanchez was elected with only 27% of the vote, because indigenous leaders called on their people, about 56,000 voters, to leave the ballot blank. For these reasons, the President of the Traditional General Congress of the Ño Kribo region, says he does not know which group the Chieftain was referring to when she made these statements.

This Saturday the dialog between the indigenous people, representatives from the government, and the National Assembly will continue. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Yesterday Celio Guerra's supporters closed the bridge over the Changuinola river, demanding he be allowed to participate in the talks. I've spoken to some people who were going to try to develop a large tourist project located inside of the Indian region in the Chiriqui province. They spent years trying to negotiate a deal that would be a "win-win" for everyone involved. They said every time they thought they had a deal, then someone else would come along and claim they were the "true" representatives of the local indigenous people, and whatever had been negotiated with that other group was void, invalid, and would not be honored. Despite the fact that this multi million dollar project would have provided good jobs and opportunities for the people in the region, as well as direct payments from the profits, the deal died. In addition, this was going to be an environmentally based business - built with as light a footprint as possible, designed to give tourists a taste of the natural environment without harming it. Anyway, the bottom line was the developers basically threw their hands in the air and walked away, disgusted and frustrated. It's unfortunate, because it truly was going to be a "good deal" for the people living in the region, and they apparently either didn't want it, or couldn't make it happen, no matter what.

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Agreed - No Mining In The Ngäbe Bugle Region

Gold & Mining The cancellation of all existing concessions granted to domestic or foreign companies for the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources within the Ngäbe Bugle region, and the repeal of Law 41 of 1975, which created the Mining Development Corporation (Codemin) for the exploitation of a copper mine at Cerro Colorado, were the first points of consensus agreed to last night by the special subcommittee formed by indigenous leaders, government officials and members of the Trade Commission of the National Assembly on the second day of formal discussions. The session of this subcommittee began yesterday at 11:20 am, at it took three hours for the participants to reach a consensus on the mechanism that will be used to discuss Article 5, which was excluded from Bill 415, due to constant requests for breaks. Meanwhile, on the grounds of Legislative Palace a large group of Indians awaited the results of the meeting and conducted a vigil in support of their leaders. At about 7:00 pm last night the subcommittee agreed to declare a recess until today at 9:00 am. They pledged to start with the presentation of technical teams that will discuss hydropower, one of the contentious issues. (Prensa)
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A Proposal To Discuss Mining And Hydro Power Separately

Gold & Mining On arrival at the National Assembly, Government Minister, Jorge Ricardo Fabrega said it sees as viable the proposal submitted last night by the indigenous leader Asencio Palacio, who requested that the issues of mining and hydro electric project to be discussed separately. Palacio's proposal was presented at the Commission of Trade and Economic Affairs of the National Assembly. According to Fabrega, that would be the best way to advance the discussion of Bill 415, which creates a special regime for the exploration and exploitation of mining and water resources within the region Ngäbe-Bugle.

CONTENT - The Indian leader's proposal also includes the creation of an intergovernmental commission, where these issues will be discussed. However, Palacio said the implementation or otherwise of this proposal will depend on the agreements arrived upon this Thursday. Today there are plans to establish the methodology that will be used during the dialog to be conducted with the indigenous representatives. Inside the Blue Hall of the Assembly are the ministers Ricardo Quijano (Trade and Industry) and Jorge Ricardo Fabrega (Government).

Before the meeting in the Assembly, the Indians stayed together outside in the Park of the Legislature to establish the proposal they would submit. (Prensa)

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Talks Over Article 5 and Bill 415 (Mining Law) Resume in the National Assembly

Gold & MiningThe Commerce Commission of the National Assembly resumed on Thursday, the session to discuss the Bill 415 which establishes a special regime for the protection of mineral, water, and environmental resources in the Ngäbe Bugle region. Deputy Raul Hernandez, chairman of the committee, explained the methodology of the debate is yet to be defined, either by date or to go directly to the discussion of Article 5, which keeps the indigenous population at odds. Hernandez believes it is a good time to move forward with the discussion, above all to lower the level of shocks. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Hmmm. It's going to be interesting to see how this turns out. Some very rich and powerful friends of president Ricardo Martinelli are behind at least one of these hydroelectric projects currently being built inside of the Ngäbe Bugle region. If Article 5 is included as written, then those concessions would have to be cancelled immediately and work on the project stopped. I expect there will be some sort of an attempt to "grandfather in" those projects that have already been granted concessions, and I doubt the Ngäbe Bugle people will accept that proposal. Let's see how this works out in the coming days. As far as the Indians are concerned, they are wondering "what's the hold up" and they want Article 5 included in Bill 415, whole and complete, as written, with no modifications.

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Indian Chief Carrera Says Martinelli Disrespected Her

Gold & MiningThe General Chief of the Ngäbe-Bugle region, Silvia Carrera, during her speech before the full body of the National Assembly, after the creation of the Negotiating Committee of Bill 415, said how president Ricardo Martinelli had disrespected her. "(The president) disrespected me by saying 'I went to the region and now it's up to you to come here, and here I have helicopter ready and here we will prepare good food and good drink' that's disrespectful to me," stressed the cacica Carrera. Referring to the three people who were killed in the clashes last week in San Felix, Carrera wanted to know when their bodies would be delivered, and said the Government takes responsibility for the expenses of the families affected. Meanwhile, tempers were running high outside the legislative chamber where the Indians who were watching what was happening inside the National Assembly, demanding the cessation of breaks and the prompt enactment of a law. The Negotiating Committee is comprised of nine Deputies who are on the Commerce Committee of the National Assembly, representatives of the Indian Coordinating group, and four members of the executive branch, led by Government Minister Ricardo Jorge Fabrega and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ricardo Quijano. (Panama America)

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Discussions On Article 5 of Bill 415 Start This Afternoon In The National Assembly

Gold & MiningAt 2:00 pm this Wednesday, Feb. 8, the review of Article 5 of Bill 415 began in the National Assembly, which prohibits mining and hydroelectric projects in the comarca. The Chairman of the Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs, Raul Hernandez, said the meeting will be held in the Blue Room of the National Assembly. There will be present the component Members of the commission, the members of the Coalition in Defense of Resources and the Ngäbe Bugle People, and the authorities from the executive branch of government to see about the issue, said the Deputy from the ruling Democratic Change political party.

REVIEW - According to Hernandez, they will start today - once again - the discussions of that article. It had been deleted from Bill 415 which had already been approved in the first debate. However, Hernandez explained that, since Bill 415 had not been passed to the General Secretary for discussion by the full body of the National Assembly, it can be debated again at the committee level. In fact, he said the wording of the document can be improved. The important thing is that it will come up for discussion, he said.

'PROTESTS WERE UNNECESSARY' - Hernandez said he regretted everything that happened during the week-long indigenous protest calling for the inclusion of Article five. The deputy said all this was "unnecessary," since they could have met earlier. However, he stressed that "it's never too late if happiness is good." He said he has good expectations for this new dialogue. The agreement San Lorenzo 1, signed yesterday, February 7, in the province of Chiriqui, put an end to the indigenous demonstration that left at least one dead, dozens injured, 119 arrested and economic losses. (Prensa)

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Henríquez: The Government Is Not Pushing Mining In The Ngäbe Buglé Comarca

Gold & MiningForeign 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.

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National Assembly Returns Controversial Bill 415 To Committee (Mining in Ngäbe Bugle Region)

Gold & MiningThe Commerce Commission of the National Assembly, chaired by Deputy Raul Hernandez, decided to keep Bill 415, which establishes the regime on mining in the Ngäbe Bugle region in "first debate" at the committee level. Deputy Hernandez explained that since the Bill has not reached the floor of the National Assembly he can retain the Bill at the committee level for review. He said they are waiting to start a dialogue with the indigenous Ngäbe Bugle people, who have kept the Inter American highway blocked for six days. The highway was reopened by force with the intervention of the riot control units of the National Police. This confrontation left one dead and 39 wounded. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Blink. This is the Bill the Indians are protesting about, because they insist on the inclusion of their "Article 5". Now with this announcement the National Assembly is saying they committee can meet with and negotiate with the protesting Indians, to try to find a solution to the problem.

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Customs Director Says Indians Are "Intransigent" and "Protesting Violently"

Gold & MiningCustoms Director Gloria Moreno de Lopez, said the indigenous protesters are intransigent and protest violently, so it would be justified if the government does not allow them to keep the Inter American Highway closed. Lopez Moreno said the state must guarantee the free movement (for all citizens) and the Inter American Highway is an international route, and the country's image has declined to the point where many people are hesitant to come to Panama for Carnival and Easter. The Director of the Customs Authority said more than $3 million dollars has been lost in products that had to remain refrigerated, while expressing concern for the people who have been stranded on the road. López Moreno believes the protesters are protesting in a violent manner, and are uncompromising in demanding that the development of mining and hydroelectric power be prohibited in the entire country. (TVN)
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Truckers Threaten To Close Paso Canoas International Border Crossing (Panama - Costa Rica)

Gold & MiningCarlos Argetta, a spokesman for the truck drivers stranded in San Felix, Chiriqui Province, announced they would close the international border crossing between Panama and Costa Rica at Paso Canoas at one o'clock, if the government does not resolve the request of the Indians of the region Ngäbe Bugle. "If the president fails to come to Paso Canoas we will proceed with the closure of Paso Canoas, where there are 50 articulated vehicles that will proceed to close the road," said the driver. Moreover, business groups in Chiriqui have asked the National Government to resolve the conflict. The Ngäbe Bugle Indians have kept the Interamerican Highway closed since Tuesday because of a Bill before the National Assembly that would regulate mining activity in the region which does not meet their aspirations. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: If Paso Canoas was closed, then nothing could get to David from the other side, either. See what the sign in the photo above says? "Mining and Hydroelectric Projects Get Out." There are no mining projects in the comarca. So, what projects are they talking about? Petaquilla and Inmet, even though they are not in the comarca. Nor were they included in the San Felix agreement negotiated last year. This is a politically motivated show, nothing more.

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Article 5 "Goes Well Beyond What Was Agreed Last Year in San Felix"

Gold & MiningGovernment Minister Jorge Ricardo Fabrega said this Friday, February 3, whoever says the agreement signed in San Felix on 27 February 2011 stated they would prohibit the exploitation of water resources is a lie, and he said Article 5 of the bill introduced by the Coalition for the Defense of Natural Resources and People's Rights and the Ngäbe-Bugle to the Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs of the National Assembly exceeds the agreement. Speaking to Telemetro Reports, Fabrega said point number 2 of the agreement says: "Create a law that explicitly prohibits exploration and mining in the Ngäbe-Bugle region protects the water and environmental resources of the Ngäbe-Bugle region and peasants."

This does not say anywhere - argued Fabrega - that they would prohibit the exploitation of water resources, and the agreement is signed by the spokesman for the Coordinator, the Catholic Church and the representative of the national government.

The Bill - The Government Minister also referred to Article 5 of Bill 415 which was presented by representatives of the Coordinating Committee to the Commerce Commission. Article 5 says that they would "cancel all concessions granted and in force, to domestic or foreign companies for the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources and the construction of hydropower projects within the Ngabe Bugle region, surrounding areas, territories, and Ngäbe-Bugle communities outside the area and immediately suspend all work being carried out by such companies."

Put another way, Fabrega said, this wording has two proposals that go well beyond what was agreed in San Felix. "One, including the prohibition on water resources, which was not included in item number two of the agreement, and two, that the application of Article 5 goes beyond the borders and boundaries of the district, which exceeds in an extraordinary way the commitment agreed in San Felix," he reiterated.

Fabrega said the bill approved in the first debate in the Assembly last week has two articles that do adhere to the spirit and letter of the agreement reached in San Felix. "Article number 3 says: prohibits the granting of concessions for the exploration, exploitation and extraction of metal mining, non-metallic and its derivatives in the Ngäbe-Bugle region, and Article number 4 prohibits the alteration of water courses, river heads and private ownership of water sources within the Ngabe Bugle region and its areas, and so on." he said. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Ah, OK. So this Article 5 was not included in the negotiations last year, and it was only submitted to the Committee in the National Assembly well after. So, the government never agreed to include this Article 5, anywhere. Got it. More bullshit...

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Petaquilla Gold Mine Burns 5,000 Gallons Of Fuel Per Day

Gold & MiningBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this morning via email: "Hi Don, I understand the political football game. Have you heard anything more about them blocking access to Petaquilla Minerals, Ltd.? I know they run everything on diesel and need to bring in about 5000 gal./day for the generators. If that is stopped it would cause a lot of unintended consequences. Martinelli seems to be taking your advice and not talking until they get out of the highway. Good for him! This BS really gives Panama a black eye internationally. Tourists in the States are being warned about travel to Panama. Not a good thing. Saludos, MK."

Editor's Comment: They might have a couple of days reserve fuel in tanks or something, but if they're burning 5,000 gallons a day it won't take long before they would have to shut down operations. Obviously, not a good thing. And do the math. At $3.50 per gallon that's $17,500 per day in fuel, $542,500 per month, or more than $6.3 million dollars per year. The people who sell them the fuel are making money on that activity, as well as the workers who are delivering it, and those who are running the machinery burning the fuel. All of this economic activity is paid for by the gold that's coming out of the ground. Petaquilla's operating expenses for the last three months in their most recent economic report was more than $10 million dollars. The vast majority of that money is staying right here in Panama. Economically speaking, mining is a very good thing for the country. And Petaquilla is peanuts compared to what's going to be happening with the Inmet copper mine. In the entire country there are only about 100,000 Ngöbe-Bugle Indians, compared to more than 3.3 million Panamanians total, which means they represent less than 3% of the people in this country. Why do they think they can dictate national policies for the exploitation of mining and hydro-electrical resources?

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