Mar 28, 2012

Law 11 of 3/26/12---The Indians Won

According to TVN  local news sources,  this past Monday,  3/26/12,  President Martinelli signed and sanctioned  Law 11,  which also carries the signature of the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano.   This law establishes a special regimen of protection of mineral, water, and environmental resources of the Ngobe Bugle comarca and its defined, annexed areas in accordance with Law 10 of 1997.  It further recognizes the soverignty of the indigenous over these resources.  The new law cancels and prohibits concessions for the exploration, exploitation, and extraction of mineral resources and prohibits the alteration of river mouths, channels, and tributaries.  It also prohibits private appropriation of water sources.  Any future discussion or proposals regarding the establishment of hydroelectric plants must be approved by a general, regional or local congress and later submitted to a referendum of all entities involved.   The new law also obliges any future hydroelectric projects to dedicate 30 per cent of the benefits locally,---5 percent to the indigenous community and 25 per cent to the affected people, be they indians or local campesinos [rural residents].  It also establishes regulations regarding which indigenous organizations and persons are authorized to make decisons for the community.   The law will go into effect as soon as it is inscribed in the Official Gazette. 

Apparently the law underwent two debates in the National Assembly before acquiring the Presidential signature, so it should pretty much be official unless this political party plays the same games as previously and fails to get the law inscribed.  Given all the national and international attention, however, it seems it would be very difficult to sweep under the rug.

A great victory for the indigenous, and for the environment!