Panama Does Not Intend to Suspend Dam Construction on Ngöbe Lands

  Source: Cultural Survival

The situation in Ngöbe communities abutting the Chan-75 hydroelectric dam construction site remains tense, notwithstanding the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (IACHR) decision on June 17, 2009 calling on the government of Panama to immediately suspend construction and to guarantee the personal integrity and freedom of movement of the Ngöbe inhabitants in the area. Residents of Charco la Pava allege that police units came through their community last weekend searching for a missing construction worker and threatening to burn down villagers’ houses. Residents of other communities have described how their ability to move freely within the communities and to invite visitors to observe the conditions under which they are living has been blocked by the government and AES-Changuinola. They also note that, despite governmental assertions to the contrary, explosives are still being set off in close proximity to homes and farm plots.

Moreover, the government of Panama informed the commission on June 29, 2009 that it does not intend to comply with its request to suspend construction or protect human rights while the case is pending. Cultural Survival is working closely with Ngöbe community members and other partners to respond to the government’s rejection of the commission’s recommendation. We plan to ask the IACHR to immediately appeal to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to issue an order calling upon Panama to comply.