Thursday, May 26 2011 @ 04:13 PM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
“It’s simply unacceptable for the Panamanian authorities to allow this area to be flooded until they can ensure all the Ngöbe families have safely moved away,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Researcher on Central America at Amnesty International. “People are still living in the water’s path, and their lives and safety are in danger.” According to local activists, some of the families contend they have not received the full amount of compensation that had been agreed.
Local authorities, including anti-riot police, have been called in to forcibly remove those still living in the area, and several indigenous homes have been demolished. In a September 2009 report on the Chan-75 dam, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples found that while the dam would have a “significant impact” on the nearby indigenous communities, none of them had been properly consulted or afforded an opportunity to give their consent to be relocated. Panama has an international obligation to seek indigenous peoples' free, prior and informed consent in such cases.
“Across the region, indigenous peoples have been forced to abandon their ancestral lands, have lost their livelihoods and means of survival, and have fallen into poverty as a direct result of large infrastructure projects and disputes over land,” said Sebastian Elgueta. “Human rights protection and the promotion of economic development are not mutually exclusive and ensuring that they are in tune with each other is one of the most important challenges for the region.” (Amnesty International)
Editor's Comment: Cool, a new dam...