Today La Prensa revealed that the fake Ngöbe chief Rogelio Moreno is indeed being paid by the government. He receives $600 per month as "cacique regional", the newspaper reports. The Martinelli government earlier signed an agreement with Moreno about ending the protests in exchange for a moratorium until 2014 on the exploitation of the Cerro Colorado copper concession inside the Ngöbe Buglé territory. However, Moreno has never been elected by anyone and is too young to legally hold the position of "cacique".
So how did he rise to prominence? Your Bananama Republic learned that Mr. Moreno is involved with something called the Jädrán Nigwe Nirien. This is a group in the Ngöbe community that was in favor of mining Cerro Colorado. It's president is Adriana Sandoya and the secretary is Hector López. At a meeting, Moreno talked in favor of getting the mine going to the benefit of development of the Ngöbe people, and how he doesn't want to see environmentalists in the territory. See video:
There is something fishy about this Jädrán group. First of all, they have a Canadian consultant, one Don Clarke, himself from the indigenous Black River First Nation. According to our information, he works with the Jädrán group to develop sustainable mining of Cerro Colorado, with one of the components being sharing the concession between the government and the Ngöbe people. They envision jobs, growth and development and lasting benefits such as hydroelectric dams.
This is controversial to say the least - indigenous people and environmentalists have already clashed with the government over the vast number of hydroelectric plants around the comarca - and the Järdán group has been losing support over it to the point that fake chief Moreno most likely will need a police escort should he want to return to his native land.
Undisclosed is also who finances Järdán. Who pays for the consultancy of Don Clarke?
Similarly, the group joined protests against the Martinelli mining law, supposedly because it didn't fit their plans. A video of the protest shows participants marching in sweatshirts of Jädrán - together representing a considerable amount of money - which also begs the question who paid for that.
Conspirational minds may of course theorize that Canadian mining interests have bought themselves an indigenous "civil society" group which will - after first pressing for mines, then protesting against the current law, then signing peace with Martinelli - eventually press for mining-based "development" to which "pressure" our government will then "reluctantly" give in.
Far-fetched or not, the vast majority of the Ngöbe Buglé people does not support Järdán, does not want mining in its territory and is continuing to protest against the Martinelli law regardless of fake agreements with bought "leaders" of their community.
EGOS AND SECTARIANISM
And that is not the end of the troubled protest scene in Panama. Yesterday, in a display of total lack of coordination and disorganization, there were no less than four simultaneous events going on.
First, there was a march called by union coalition Frenadeso, from the Porras park to the 5 de Mayo square. Second, there was a march called by environmental groups, from the Del Carmen church, also to the 5 de Mayo. Third, at the same square, there was already a protest going on by the Ngöbe Buglé. Fourth, there was a forum going on at the Lawyer's Association. We're discarding yet another initiative to fly kites in protest against the mining law.
This confusion - it's impossible to keep track of the cacophony about all the "big marches" the various groups announce, often very late and thus limiting participation - has been a constant feature of the protests so far, and is due not to bungling or inexperience, but to sectarianism and ego-pumping.
Frenadeso, for example, steadfastly refuses to cooperate with the environmentalists, instead choosing to do their own thing. The group is preparing to transform itself into a political party and compete for the presidency in 2014, and thus prefers to maintain a "clear" and "pure" identity over organizing effective protests. What's more, they have an interest in perpetuating issues like the mining law and the sausage law so that they can take advantage of them for campaign purposes.
The environmentalists, on the other hand, narrow things down to a purely environmental issue instead of recognizing that it's first and foremost a struggle for indigenous rights. They made the same mistake during the protests in Bocas last year and were rewarded with finding themselves outside of the game. This self-marginalization keeps their vision "pure" and, more importantly, their leadership intact. Over the last decade they have not won any meaningful battle, thus perpetuating their own "need" to exist.
This, we suppose, is why human rights activist Paco Gómez, the 22nd of this month in La Prensa, apologized to the Ngöbe Buglé people not just for the actions of the government, but also those of the various groups based in the capital:
Y, por último, les pido disculpas en nombre de las organizaciones de la capital. Bienintencionadas todas, pero a las que su fuerza y capacidad de reacción les ha agarrado una vez más por sorpresa. Su lucha requiere de sacrificios difíciles de aceptar para los que estamos acostumbrados a carro, casa y aire acondicionado. Nuestras luchas a veces tienen horario de oficina y su dignidad es de 24 horas.
Overlooking this landscape, we fear that Martinelli and his mining sponsors don't have much to worry about.