IT is generally understood that in exchanges between nations or peoples, whenever you try to take possession of someone else's lands by use of force, you may expect force to be used against you as well. That is why invasions usually evolve into wars.
Now it's not that we want to state the obvious here, but the thing is that this simple knowledge, passed from generation to generation over many millenniums all over the globe, has somehow not reached the failed abortion that currently serves as our president and his band of thugs.
Martinelli, probably the greediest goon to have ever run this country, has pushed from the beginning of his mafia rule for a mining law that would basically allow him to sell large parts of the country to foreign gold diggers and copper explorers, without any oversight or environmental supervision. Last year, he struck a deal with South Korea - the details of which are yet to be revealed but certainly involve numbered bank accounts - to allow that country to take over parts of Panama, destroy those parts, pollute the rivers and leave with the precious metals thus found. A small detail is that these mining concessions are purportedly located inside indigenous reservations, notably that of the Ngöbe-Buglé tribe.
So, for about a year know we've seen Martinelli and his 'Ndrangheta maneuver to get this thing done. Martin Torrijos was all about construction (CEMIS, Cinta Coimera, Canal expansion, Colón highway, construction boom); with Martinelli it's mining where the loot is to be had.
First it was the Ley Carcelazo, the law that prohibits blocking streets during protests. Nobody but SUNTRACS really cared about that - a tactical mistake that is now costing other groups dearly. It's a deeply ingrained sentiment in Panama that protest is something like politely stating your disagreement from the sidewalks without causing any sort of discomfort, and that's why protests generally don't accomplish much here.
Then we got the Sausage Law, which gave impunity to the police for crimes committed on the job, abolished the requirement for environmental impact studies (for mining projects) and hit the labor unions financially. The Battle of Bocas ensued, leaving many dead, including at least one baby, and even more wounded and blinded as Martinelli's chief pitbull, Gustavo Perez, thought it a good idea to shoot protesters in the face.
And now they passed the new mining law - no nickname for that one yet - and, since the Ngöbe-Buglé don't really fancy to see their lands destroyed by South Korean bulldozers and cyanide, there are again protests everywhere and again violent repression by the police thugs. Martinelli tries to invade their land by shooting them. So they shoot back. If our mobster-in-chief persists, it's only a matter of time before other tribes - paging the Kunas - join the fray.
As usual, it's mostly the indigenous people who are doing the heavy lifting. Others - the environmentalists, "civil society" - mostly stand by idly. The media are often racist in their reporting (there was a bit of a brawl about that when El Siglo ran a cartoon suggesting the "indians" could be bribed with cantinas and prostitutes) and our expat scam pimp and fascist Don Winner called those indians "ignorant". All of them.
And Martinelli? He was on TV telling lies, as usual. His statement that the "indians" could stop protesting because he didn't plan to give out concessions in their reservations was patently false and immediately debunked when El Panama America proved that he was indeed planning to do so. Earlier he was criticized for immediately calling the South Korean president after the mining law was passed (we think to give instructions as to where to wire the first installment) and then blamed his vice-president, booze-king Varela, for making him do that - more evidence that with Martinelli we're witnessing the advanced stages of Korsakoff's Syndrome.
We've also read reports that teachers in the interior who openly opposed the mining law have been fired by Opus Dei minister of education Lucy Molinar. That other drunkard, minister of presidency Jimmy Papademente, came out today saying that all he wants is to attract foreign investors for Panama - forgetting that serious business wants rule of law and not a bunch of alcoholic mobsters running the show as they see fit while collecting millions in bribes left and right (we just learned that same Papadimitriu controls a sand mining concession in Vacamonte but never disclosed that, so there you go). Why Panamanians continue to tolerate these maleantes to govern them and bankrupt the country - please don't ask us.
Alas, Sunday there will be another protest march, this time on the Cinta Coimera.
Once again “You have the government you deserve”!
Perhaps protesting isn’t enough in a greed based economic system. For an action to have success under such conditions, one requirement would be, it has to involve a much higher cost for the corrupt gang than the profits from the sell-out.
The other alternative is preventing business as usual for a large part of the population and in such a way that joining the action against the corrupt gang will be in its interest, knowing that unless action is successful, it will be the next victim in the sell-out to corporate interests.
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Thank you for this. I for one will be joining the Ngobe on the Interamericana Highway next Thursday 24th February.
Thanks also for mentioning Sir Don Winner’s racist blog posts which I read with great revulsion. I complained to him directly, but oddly enough he never published my comments or responded.
Let battle commence…
Just FYI, a schedule of action: http://interamericana.co.uk/2011/02/plan-de-accion-contra-la-coda-mineria/
Excellent, succinct article. Yes, the indigenous population is rising to the occasion, and thank goodness they are. The Indigenous Tribes of Panamá are the true Panamanians, willing to defend their land to the last person if necessary. I sincerely hope that many people, from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds, will support them in their stand against the powerful Mining groups who seek to impose themselves on the Indigenous people’s lands and territories. Please keep us posted of all developments in this situation. Surely, it will escalate, since Martinelli and his Cartel and Cadre are hell-bent in passing any and all laws necesary to appropiate resources that are/were not under their legal jurisdiction. All the territories in the Comarcas are game, and are under threat, ALL of them. It will be the Indigenous people who will make the case and set the example, defending their land, and their rights, for all those who are too cowardly to do what is right. Stand with them, they fight the good fight…And they’re going to win.
One more thing: Juan Carlos Varela is OPUS DEI, in case you didn’t know…A lot of these shady characters in the Cabinet have very, very strong linkes to Opus Dei, including Martinelli…And any family/relatives that are posted in Italy, in ‘diplomatic’ positions…
It looks you’re right about the Opus Dei issue. One of the articles:
A few names from that article bring up a case of arms trafficking:
Regarding what Opus Dei stands for (extortion racket), there was one article with quite a few references on the “hidden” history of the Roman Catholic Church and its derivatives.
It should be translated into every indigenous language, as to get the picture there is a horrid past as genocidal organization. The site has been deleted though (no surprise of course) so I kept a few copies, one at
I am glad to see that the majority of Gringo’s and Expats, along with the Over 80 percent of the Panamanians are against this Evil treachery !
That was and is conceived and being put forth by this greedy corrupt Oppressive Martinelli Mafiaized Government and his personal Gang of cowardly thieves !
The The Panamanian Government needs these $18,500,000.000.00, Yes, $18.5Billion in Mega projects just to keep the country of Panama running!
Panama’s National debt for 2010 was $10.5 Billion alone!
The Panamanian Government monetary Bonds are next to worthless and are not selling at the Interest rates in which they can profit!
Over 100 Million in Government Bonds were offered in the last two months alone!
$800 from the ACP in November 2010!
The Panamanian Government does not have any money left period!
Just look at the Potable(drinking) water system in Panama, over 50 percent of the country of Panama does without water for weeks turning into months now!
The Panamanian Government has $millions and $Million for Defense, for the National Police standing Occupational Army!
Yet, Panama does not have any domestic or Foreign Enemies!
The Crime rate and the Murder rate has sky rocketed since this Panamanian Government came to power 18 months ago!
They now shoot with lethal force, use Pepper spray, and tear gas against the poor and underprivileged that are peacefully demonstrating under the auspices of the Panamanian Constitution and the protection ii is suppose to grant under the true rule of law!
The Constitution of Panama is now only used to suspend the rights of the Citizens of Panama at the discretion of this cowardly, greedy, deceitful, discriminating Panamanian Government!!
The Panamanian Government has $1.5 Million for a drunken street fair, yet over half of Panama City does not have clean safe drinking water, the rest of the water available is mostly contaminated or has no water at all now for weeks, now months!
Yet, the this Panamanian Government can not help to feed it own Citizens which over half are Malnutrition and near slow starvation.
Rice shortages and high food prices that are create by this Government!
This Panamanian Government’s Courts release the $2.8 million fine(Major water and soil contamination with Cyanide) against Vancouver, Canada-based mining firm Petaquilla Minerals Ltd.
The Vancouver, Canada-based mining firm Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. made over $60,000,000.00, Yes $60 Million in profits last year(2010) from the soils of Panama!
Yet, The Vancouver, Canada-based mining firm Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. only paid This Panamanian Government 4 cents on the dollar, which equals out to $2.5 million for the Privileged of contaminating the water and Panama’s Eco-system for the next thousand years!
North Africa and the Middle East are now awaking to the injustices of these so called freely elected corrupted greedy lying Politicians!
Panamanians are still on the edge of this abyss, now looking over it with the hate of the lies and the promises of these so called elitists, corrupted, greedy deceitful, discriminating Politicians, Businesses, and Multi-National corporations!
The hidden agenda of the Catholic church, of these so called elite’s, the corrupted greedy, deceitful, discrimination Politicians, Businesses, and Multi-National corporations are no longer hidden!
The 80 Percent of the Panamanian who are realizing the truth and now standing against this Tyranny of economic deception, deceitful discrimination, and the massive injustice against the poor, underprivileged, and middle class of Panama!
Just why are Chinese, the US and European mining Companies not jumping on this great gigantic Copper find?
What is really there worth turning Panama into a gigantic Toxic waste dump?
“Panama where the numbers never add up”
$800 Million from the ACP in November 2010!
Some pics from the Cinta Costera rally. It was a good march 🙂
Good article. But let’s try to up the vocab a bit…. we can do better than refer to the Ngobe as “a tribe”. Indigneous as a noun, or the Ngobe culture. In my opinion, there should be no differentiation beyond panamanian.
@Juan: I don’t see anything wrong with the word “tribe”. Throughout history, tribes have been the most resilient and successful way to organize society. See for a primer on the subject here.
As long as this Panamanian Government separates it’s Citizens, It’s People by names such as Indians, African, etc, etc it perpetuates the notion that any one under these so called ethnic and cultural groups are classified as inferior with titles such as Idiots, morons, and ill educated and stupid!
(This Certainly is not my Personal Opinion of the peoples of Panama) !!
These Myths, pure lies are rampant and are perpetuated by Gringo,s and Expats such as don the Wanker and other greedy corrupted blogger’s who paint Panama as a Slave state and easy profits for the taking!
These so called elite’s, within this Panamanian Government consider all Panamanians which are poor, underprivileged, middle class, Gringo’s and Expats of Panama their personal checkbook!
Hence, Any Panamanian Citizen, Gringo, and Expat within Panama that does not succumb to this Tyranny of economic deception and Pay tribute to these so-called elite’s, within this inordinately corrupted greedy, unreasonably deceitful, an excessively discriminating Panamanian Government and Court system are now considered ENEMIES of this Government!
As Long as this Panamanian Government seeks to separate the Citizens of Panama by Race, Ethnic birth, Religion, Sex, Law, and Cultural means and methods it will destroy the very base which it thinks supports it jurisprudence now!
One just has to Look to North Africa and the Middle East to realize that a true fundamental change has occurred among the poor, underprivileged, and middle class of the world and now Panama!
“Panama where the Numbers never add up”
We live in an age of crushing homogenisation and corporate-sponsored monoculture. The world’s most ancient languages are dying out and anyone who says ‘we’re all the same’ is missing the point: variety is the spice of life.
Besides, nationhood is only an abstract concept, a collection of political ideas, used for better or worse, for political purposes.
@Dr Dias – The Ngobe are proud to be Ngobe. They are Ngobe first and foremost. They do not see anything inferior in this. If other people see the classification as derogatory, surely that is their problem?
They are a great proud People as are the other great tribes within Panama!
Yes, they have every right to claim their heritage and their ancestral lands period!
This Panamanian Government does not have the right to sell or give any concessions of these ancestral lands to any company or Foreign Government or foreign company without the full consent of these peoples under the Constitution of Panama!
The true Problem is when this Panamanian Government uses these Names as weapons against the Very People they claim they are representing and supporting!
As Long as this Panamanian Government seeks to separate the Citizens of Panama by Tribe, Race, Ethnic birth, Religion, Sex, Law, and Cultural means and methods it will destroy this country from within!
“Panama where the numbers never add up”
To the person/s who suggested upping the vocabulary and perhaps objected to the correct use of the word ‘Tribe’ and ‘Indigenous’: I suggest that you arm yourself with a really good dictionary and study a lot more history before you venture into writing your ‘politically’ correct version/opinion/assumptions, which actually eliminate and homogenize what is unique.
The Indigenous Tribes of the Republic of Panama are unique to Panama and the Isthmus in general. Their traditions, language, culture and way of life, are completely different, in every way possible, to the typical Panamanian way of life. The Indigenous people were not brought over by ANY colonists. They ARE the original inhabitants of the Republic of Panama, and therefore FULLY deserve the title of Indigenous Tribes of the Republic of Panama, and none of their LEGAL claims can be overlooked or brushed aside by those who seek to establish some sort of legal claim to their ancestral lands and territories. To simply address the Indigenous Tribes of the Republic of Panama as ‘Panamanians’ lumps them into a category that is CLEARLY an attempt to disavow their LEGITIMATE and fully established legal claims as Panama’s Indigenous population, ‘INDIGENOUS’ being the key word, meaning the ‘ORIGINAL’ inhabitants, which is fully recognized by the United Stations.
As an aside, that decree that Martinelli signed is not in perpetuity: It expires in the year 2014. That decree is not worth the paper it’s written on. As long as the mining takes place in lands that are not part of the Comarcas (and that means it could be a foot away, on ‘non-Comarca land) mining can take place. Once more, Martinelli and his Cadre are dividing…and conquering…This will cause division in the Tribes…I hope they see this deceptive decree for what it is: A tool to divide and conquer.
I apologize for the word ‘Stations’…It should read ‘United Nations’…did not have my reading glasses on…
@Lana – They are not falling for the agreement. The protests are going ahead tomorrow:
Should be fun 🙂
Beautiful and well presented post!
May this Panamanian Government of Tyranny and economic deception now fall at the hands of the true people of Panama!
As long as these demonstrations continue the World Financial Community will not lend monies to keep this greedy corrupt Oppressive Martinelli Mafiaized Government and his personal Gang of cowardly thieves in Power!
Panama is monetarily broke!
This Overly greedy corrupted Oppressive Martinelli Government can not function or exist without foreign monetary support and loans, Period.
By keeping these Marches and Demonstrations continuing daily!
This will put a huge amount of Monetary Pressure on these Corrupted Politicians, Assemblymen, Ministries, Courts, Police and Businessmen who can only operate with the help of foreign banks,Capital, and Influence!
These Marches and Demonstrations can now force this Government and It’s Businesses to capitulate to the demands of the true Panamanian People to stop promoting the rape and pillage of Panama Natural Resources for their personal monetary gain and to stop this massive Corruption within this Panamanian Government and it’s Businesses!!
The Individual who sign this phony mining agreement was obviously not representing the People of Panama, But a paid stooge of this overly Oppressive corrupted Martinelli Government!
This corrupted Martinelli Government will stoop to pure deceit, lies, Maiming, Shooting, Killing, the use of Pepper spraying, the use of tear gas, and the jailing and imprisoning of Peacefully Demonstrating Citizens to stay in Power!
May the True People of this Country of Panama continue this struggle peacefully within their pure conviction for true moral legal process and law under the real Constitution of Panama and Morality we all deserve!
“Panama where the numbers never add up”