Feb 5, 2012

Panama's President responds via Twitter

President Martinelli reportedly returned to Panama from the US this afternoon due to the escalation of civil unrest.   His last tweet to followers one hour ago is as  follows: 

El problema con los indigenas es que NO quieren que haya mas hidroelectricas en Panamá. Esto encarece todo y nos emprobrece aun mas
Trans:  The problem with the indians is that they don't want more hydroelectric plants in Panama.  That makes everything more expensive and creates even more poverty.

Martinelli and his family/friends are accused of having business interests in the foreign hydroelectric projects.  I don't know how to confirm or disprove this.

A copy of the original agreement signed with the indians in 2011 has surfaced.  The second point in that agreement clearly states:  The creation of a law explicitly prohibiting the exploration and exploitation of mining on Ngobe Bugle lands and the protection of water and environmental resources in the Comarca.    This is the self-same legislation that is currently being cited as the basis for protest.  The Martinelli administration apparently is forging ahead without acknowledging it, claiming instead that the indigenous groups are demanding more than was originally agreed upon.  Having seen a copy of the document,  this doesn't appear to be the case. 

The news stations are once again broadcasting.  There are demonstrations occuring in Panama City at the presidential headquarters.  Since the escalation,  39 people are reported injured,  including 7  police.  41 persons have been detained, two of them allegedly minors.  The minister of security,  who for me lacks credibility, is claiming that the bullet that killed Guillermo Montezuma does not come from standard issue police weaponry.  Mr. Montezuma was shot in the left chest. 

Lastly, the University of Panama announced it is suspending all administrative and academic activities for all branches in the country and calling a Academic Council meeting at 9 am tomorrow.  They encourage open dialogue to resolve the issues related to the indigenous rejection of mining  on their lands.

A few minutes ago I happened upon a volunteer  blog with an article by a woman who spent time last year in the indian comarca.  She has succinctly summarized the  issues fueling the current protests and the history behind the movement.  I am pasting the link below for additional reference.