Sunday, February 5, 2012

Protests in Panama against copper mining

Guayami protesters from the Ngobe-Bugle comarca (reservation) are blocking roads in a dispute with the Panamanian government over mineral exploration on their lands. In this decades-long dispute over control of their territory, the group has repeatedly blocked roads & scuffled with the police to keep mining operators out. Panama has one of the largest undeveloped copper reserves in Latin America & since prices for the metal are sky high (the auto industry is reliant on it), the Panama government wants to open up copper mining to foreign mining companies. When the comarcas were established, the Guayamis (& other ethnic groups) were given exclusive use of their territory but the government retained ownership & control over mineral deposits. The Guayamis do not have rights to share profits from natural resources found on their territory. The government has offered exploration contracts to some of the biggest mining companies in the world from several countries. Environmental catastrophes caused by mining are well documented & well-known by the Guayamis, including contaminated soil & water supplies, stripped away vegetation, & disturbed animal life. The displacement of native people by multinational projects like hydroelectric dams, industrial farming, & mining by foreign corporations is a major issue of self-determination around the world. (Photo by Arnulfo Franco)


  1. Mary, I don't understand where you are coming from. Are you upset that America only buys 10% of the world's copper versus China buying 31% of the world's copper? Are you know going to bash all global copper manufacturers as a way to impede the rise of the rest?

    We Americans need to be gracious about the rise of the rest. The rise of others benefits us. You should be delighted by the rise of China, Turkey, Brazil, India and Indonesia. While their rise means that America has a smaller percentage of global income, in absolute terms American workers have higher living standards when foreigners prosper.

    Whatever you think about Bush, he understood the rise of the rest [sort of, or at least better than he understood other things, him not being an out of the ballpark genius], and was gracious about letting other great global powers assume global leadership. You need to be as well.

    Lower global copper prices helps billions of poor peole around the world. Please think about them. Please allow the global poor to help themselves by increasing global copper supply.

  2. We live  on different planets and in different dimensions, anan.