Why the Ngöbe had to die

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The violence against the Ngöbe uprising may be over since an agreement was reached yesterday, but many questions remain to be answered and issues are unsolved.

Why was all the violence necessary in the first place, if the government after days decided to negotiate and give the Ngöbe what they wanted anyway?

Why did Panama have to live through such a violent episode for the third time already during Martinelli's administration, each time related to mining and exploitation of water resources? To recount: The first time was Bocas 2010, with one of the main issues being a law that would eliminate environmental impact studies for mining projects deemed of national interest. The second time was with the Ngöbe in 2011, about mining in their reservation. The third time was over the last week, when the government tried to break its promise of no mining and no hydroelectric plants in Ngöbe territory - and again they were touting "national energy interests" as the reason for the slaughter.

What interests are big and important enough for the government to have so many people killed and wounded?

La Estrella, in a great hard-hitting investigative piece today, gives us an important piece of the puzzle. The newspaper names two well-known Panamanian entrepreneurs, Gabriel Btesh and Felipe Virzi, as the men behind a big hydroelectric project that has been in the works for years and would seriously affect the Ngöbe reservation.

Btesh and Virzi are well known in the wonderful world of Panamanian megacorruption and crooked deals. La Estrella also calls them out as the driving forces behind a high-profile land scandal in Paitilla, where a flower salesman showed up as the supposedly legal owner of an extremely valuable piece of land which was then transferred for pennies to them.

Both gentlemen are good friends - and probably business associates - of our president Ricardo Martinelli. Virzi is even related to Martinelli. President Doens of the opposition PRD party told La Estrella that the duo had approached him on behalf of Martinelli, proposing that he tone down the opposition in exchange for money.

The violent repression of the indigenous people defending their land and their livelihood went together with endless government spin, repeated by other "friendly" entrepreneurs like Juan Francisco Kiener, president of the Syndicate of Panamanian Industrialists, threatening skyrocketing electricity prices and even daily blackouts if building hydroelectric dams in the territory of the Ngöbe would be prohibited.

However, La Estrella reports that the Btesh-Virzi plant, if built, would only generate 4.5% of Panama's national consumption, according to the project's own studies. On top of that, no less than 17 such plants are already under construction in Chiriqui, outside the comarca.

Those indisputable figures did however not stop Jimmy Papadimitriu yesterday evening from stating that the water resources in the Ngöbe reservation would be protected "as long as that doesn't endanger the energy security of the country" - a revealing glimpse into what Martinelli et al may try next in their quest to enrich themselves, their families and their associates.

Luckily, the Ngöbe are not to be fooled again. The National Assembly is going to be in session from 2:00 PM today to discuss the mining law, this time with the clause that prohibits mining and exploitation of natural resources in their territory. Large groups of Ngöbe have surrounded the parliament and have assembled in various places throughout the country, ready to take action if the agreement turns out to be yet another government lie.

But even if they keep their word, the question is if we really want to live under a government that maims hundreds of people and kills several more, just to safeguard the corrupt business deals of its associates who are already filthy rich. One of the most distasteful pictures of yesterday - except for the photos of the killed teenager, shot at close range with a rifle - was the one showing the National Police cordoning off Super99 supermarkets. They weren't protecting lives, or banks, or women and children; they stood there, protecting the stores of Ricardo Martinelli.

And that is not a state of affairs anyone should tolerate.

4 thoughts on “Why the Ngöbe had to die

  1. I commend your article completely!

    All these hydroelectric are really a smoke screen for the new Electrical grid which will be used in setting up Smelters and Stamping Mills to process the raw the Ores for the Canadian, Chinese, and Korean mining interests!

    These processes use astronomical amounts of Water and Electricity.

    “Panama where the numbers never add up”

    “The photos of the killed teenager, shot at close range with a rifle”??

    In my limited military forensic experience this actually looked like a close range shotgun wound or tear gas canister wound while the boy was lying on his back.

    But, the complete lack of Powder burns and wading make this a difficult call, it was certainly not a rifle or pistol shot at any range.

    Also the lack of lead or steel shotgun Pellets in the wound in the photograph!

    It is very possible that a .50 caliber (12.7 mm) Shotgun slug was used?

    At the right distance and angle a .50 caliber (12.7 mm) Shotgun slug could rip through flesh and be deflected into a outward slashing direction from the wound forming two or more wound flaps!

    There is no burned, smoldering flesh, eye lashes, eye brows, or hair in the Photographs.

    So a gasoline or incendiary type bomb may be rule out!

    Some sort of Projectile was launched towards this boy face!

    Exactly what caliber and type can not be deducted from the photographs.

    I have seen Tear gas canisters launched from riot guns cause some what distinctive wounds at close range!

    Just not to this extent!

    What ever happen to this poor soul, should never happen to any one ever!

    My hear goes out to his family and friends.

    This is a very hideous disrespectful way to execute any one, especially when not in a all out armed conflict!

  2. Pingback: Martinelli's rage attacks, threats | Bananama Republic

  3. To me it look as if a hollow point bullet was used. These type of bullets do enormous damage and completely destroys whatever it hits. I am not aware of a 50-caliber shotgun being in the market, except of course you can file the barrel and then it a totally more devastating bullet that will enter the body. But this last part is speculation. The damage is utterly despicable and the fact that you do not see powder means that either he , the shooter, is a trained marksman or this was a sniper…they use a .50 caliber weapon that can reach with pinpoint accuracy up to 5 miles. I fought in Cambodia and Laos 14 months and this presentation is about as good as I can give.

  4. For the uninitiated in fire arms such as Shot guns! URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotgun_slug

    Shot Gun slug:
    URL: http://www.chuckhawks.com/shotgun_slugs.htm

    Basic information and Ballistic tables!
    URL: http://www.frfrogspad.com/shotgun.htm

    Shot gun sluts are not intended for use against humans, they are for sporting, hunting or heavy defense against moving vehicles(due to their penetration of most thin skinned vehicles).

    The PDF and the US Military did not have any exclusively dedicated .50 Caliber sniper rifles before 1977 as you allude too.

    The .50 Caliber sniper weapon you are referring to was a modified M2(.50 Cal) Heavy Machine gun with a single shot lockout with a Heavily modified ART scope.

    Also the US Military on certain M106 recoilless rifles has single barrel .50 caliber round spotting rifle with Heavily modified ART scope on top of the weapon.

    At Night they would use PS2 or a PS3 heavily modified Starlight Scope!

    This single barrel .50 caliber was used on the M106 to acquire targets distance(Range).

    These where sometimes mounted on Tracks(M113)with and without 50 caliber round spotting rifle .

    It effective combat range was maximum range of 7.4 kilometers (4.55 miles), with a maximum effective range(KIA)of 1.8 kilometers (1.2 miles).

    This is photograph of an M106 recoilless rifle which has single barrel .50 caliber round spotting rifle on Marble Mountain RVN 1969.

    URL: http://www.0311marine.com/images/tim105.JPG

    This comment is based on the true and accurate information available and not my own conjecture.

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