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Along the Road: The Ngäbe-Buglé Struggle to Protect Environmental Resources in Panama

Author(s): Rogelio Cansari | Quentin Gausset

Journal: International Indigenous Policy Journal
ISSN 1916-5781

Volume: 4;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 5;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Panama | Indigenous movement | Ngäbe-Buglé | environment | mining | civil society

Indigenous people in Panama do not enjoy full autonomy within their comarcas (traditional land reserves): they only control surface resources, while the state retains control of underground resources. This article analyses direct action by the Ngäbe-Buglé, who successfully defeated the latest attempt by the government to exploit underground resources within their comarcas. It describes government strategies for retaining control over Indigenous people’s land and analyses how the Ngäbe-Buglé counteracted these strategies with support from burgeoning civil society movements. We argue that this is due to an unprecedented alliance between Indigenous people and other social movements in Panama, as well as to the fact that Indigenous people have succeeded in federating all major civil society organizations around their discourses and actions.
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