Panama: “I'm Ngäbe, I'm Bugle, I'm Panamanian”

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

This year, the struggle of the indigenous Ngäbe-Bugle have become more visible than ever before, thanks to social networks. In February, as Ariel Moreno reported on Global Voices, members of the Ngäbe-Bugle community had blocked the Pan-American highway to protest against mining and also “to demand that the government comply with the agreement reached last year with respect to mining in the region.”

Ariel later wrote:

Panama went through one of the biggest crises it has seen since democracy was restored in 1989, when the indigenous people of Ngobe Bugle decided to take over the highway on January 31, 2012, protesting mining and construction of hydroelectric facilities in their district. They stayed there until February 5, when national police removed them by force.

The crisis has been alleviated for the moment with an agreement between the indigenous group and the government. Even so, the uncertainty of what could happen if there is hydroelectric construction or mining in these districts is still on the minds of Panamanians.

Now, to raise awareness about the excessive force used by police, Cooperativa Audiovisua has created the video campaign “Soy Ngäbe, soy Buglé, soy Panameñ@” (“I'm Ngäbe, I'm Bugle, I'm Panamanian”) under the direction of director Guna Orgun Wagua.

The blog Prensa Ngäbe-Bugle [es] explains:

Yomira John, Kanabiz, Lucy Cristina Chau, Said Isaac, o Nelva Reyes son algunas de las y los panameños reconocidos que han prestado su vos y su rostro a la campaña “Soy Ngäbe, soy Buglé, soy panameñ@”. En ella, denuncian con templanza las violaciones de derechos humanos registradas en el informe de varias organizaciones de la sociedad civil que han documentado el uso excesivo de la fuerza, la arbitrariedad y la violencia sexual empleada por la Policía durante la represión de las protestas antimineras de febrero en el país.

Yomira John, Kanabiz, Lucy Christina Chau, Said Isaac, or Nelva Kings are among the recognized Panamanians who have lent their face and their voice to the campaign “I'm Ngäbe, I'm Bugle, I'm Panamanian”. In it, in a temperate manner, they denounce the human rights violations recorded in the reports of several civil society organizations that have documented the use of excessive force, abuse and sexual violence by the police during the crackdown on anti-mining protests during February in the country.

In the video, these well-known Panamanians give voice to the testimonies of the indigenous protesters that were affected by police repression. The whole report can be downloaded as a PDF [es].

In the video's description [es] Cooperativa Audiovisual adds that the campaign aims to,

mostrar que la lucha por la defensa de los recursos minerales, hídricos y ambientales no es un deber exclusivo de los Ngäbe-Buglé, sino de todos los panameñ@s.

show that the struggle for the defense of the mineral, water and environmental resources is not an exclusive duty of the Ngäbe-Bugle, but of all Panamanians.

You can see pictures of the making of the video on Facebook. Follow indigenous leader Silvia Carrera on Twitter [es] and Facebook [es] to stay on top of the news related to the Ngäbe-Bugle.

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

Thumbnail and featured image shows girl from Ngäbe Buglé. Image by Flickr user U.S. Embassy Panama (CC BY-ND 2.0).

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