Murder by death squad of Ngobe protester sets the tone for coming Battle of Barro Blanco

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protestcartoonLast Saturday, a group of about 200 members of the indigenous Ngobe people held a protest manifestation against the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam, in Las Nubes, near Cerro Punta. It was a peaceful protest - on the part of the Ngobe, that is.

Afterwards, two of them were waiting at a bus stop when four men showed up wearing ski masks. They took the two protesters and beat them up with iron rods and clubs.

One of them was dumped in a nearby stream. Dead. He was found the next morning. His name was Onesimo Rodriguez, and he lived near the Tabasara river where the dam is being built. The other victim survived, but his identity is being protected for his safety.

This type of death squad activity is not new in Latin America, but it hasn't been seen as of yet as part of the Panamanian indigenous struggle to protect their lands.

Naturally, the Ngobe population is outraged. They see this, some leading figures told us, not as a provocation but as an attempt to scare them enough to stop protesting the dam.

That, however, will almost certainly backfire. The mood in Ngobe Bugle was already quite militant and impatient given the delaying tactics of the government in the negotiating process, and murdering people will only fuel the fire.

Will there be massive protests again? Maybe, but not necessarily. Consider this: The Ngobe are the largest workforce in the Chiriqui highlands. They could easily paralyze all agricultural activity in Panama's vegetable basket or, if they really want to do serious damage, destroy that activity altogether. Food would have to be imported, prices would go up, and economic damage would by far outweigh any profits from building that dam.

With even smaller numbers, the roads around the comarca could be made into a constant hazard to drive, turning the whole area into one fluid nightmarish non-stop bottleneck. Think Kabul - Kandahar. Think 4th generation warfare.

Whichever they decide to do, we think it will be an ugly battle. Genisa (the company behind the dam) and the government are evidently willing to go as far as cold-blooded murder to push through this dam that Panama doesn't even need.

The dam is being financed by the Dutch FMO bank - a semi-government bank - and German DEG. They must be thrilled to see that their "green" investment is being protected by paramilitary thugs clubbing people to death.

6 thoughts on “Murder by death squad of Ngobe protester sets the tone for coming Battle of Barro Blanco

  1. It’s back to the 80’s of Guatemala, Honduras and Salvador. I hope that the next president has the humanity to end this dangerous step towards atrocities that will truly destroy the country. Perhaps it will not be a matter of humanity but of ability. Are the police truly beyond civilian control yet or can the apes be controlled still?

  2. The militarized SENAFRONT police forces in Panama are trained by U.S. military. If you are a U.S. citizen look into the Leahy Law: “No assistance shall be furnished under this Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

    http://www.humanrights.gov/2011/10/06/an-overview-of-the-leahy-vetting-process/

    Write a letter or email – take action!

  3. Carbon Tax Credits means death, complete lost of Human Rights, and Ancestral lands granted by Law and Constitutional Authority for the Indigenous peoples of the Comarca of Panama and the rest of the world!

    The Cartel Government of Martinelli has broken all agreements, treaties, and contracts with the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous peoples of the Comarca to further his own personal wealth, Martinelli’s cd party Friends and Associates bottom line for the financial interests of Transnational Banks so they can sell “Carbon Credits” to Transnational Corporations that are huge environmental Polluters, that can not conform to their own countries environmental laws and Regulations.

    The Martinelli Fascist CARTEL Government is attacking the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous peoples of the Comarca of Panama to enrich itself from the blood of these people.

    Martinelli’s Strong arm Government is using his National Police Occupational Army to attack, degrade, steal ancestral lands from Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous peoples of the Comarca of Panama.

    The Panamanian National Police Occupational Army and SENAFRONT are nothing more than a trained DEATH Squad, its only mission is to protect the interests of the Criminal Career Politicians, Martinelli’s criminal democratic party, his Friends and Associates with the outright thief, embezzlement from the Panamanian Treasury, the confiscation of indigenous and public lands

  4. Martinelli has been handicapped by his building of all these pork barrel projects that have cost so much that he couldn’t adequately equip his National Police. Congress is in no mood t finance a war in Central America. The Ngäbe-Buglé know that terrain much, much better than the National Police. The Ngäbe can obtain weapons from a source that doesn’t particularly like Martinelli and has the money to supply them. This would be a Vietnam situation all over again. A civil war that the national police can’t win and that damn dam would be blown up at the first opportunity. It is going to be bloody and ugly, but my money is on the Ngäbe.

  5. Dang, can’t we all just get along? What, if any, compensation is offered for the taking of these lands? Is the Hydro project preparing for the future population increase or trying to catch up to the demand now?

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