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  • Indigenous groups protesting against the construction of a new dam in the west of Panama. (Photo: EFE)

    Indigenous groups protesting against the construction of a new dam in the west of Panama. (Photo: EFE)

Published 19 September 2014

The reservoir created by the dam will likely start flooding fertile agricultural land and destroy the river’s fish and shrimp.

Indigenous Panamanian groups remain alert on the banks of the river Tabasara, as part of a long standing protest against the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dams being built, threatening to flood their land.

The water reservoir of the dam is expected to flood land belonging to the Comarca of the Ngöbe-Buglé — a semi-autonomous reservation owned and administered by Panama’s indigenous Ngöbe and Buglé people.

In this area, are seven townships which will be flooded, and over 5000 Ngobe farmers will be affected as they rely on the river for water, agriculture and fishing.

The river beds have very fertile land which is used for agriculture, as well as for the collection of medicinal plants. 

Moreover, along the river stand cemeteries and traditional sacred places, including three petroglyphs, which will be also flooded. 

The indigenous groups have continued to march peacefully, demanding to be heard by the national government.

Ricardo Miranda, spokesman for the M10 movement opposed to the construction said that "the indigenous people strongly rejects the serious violations of human rights ... because they are still building and contaminating places that were previously very healthy." 

An agreement was signed in March 2012 to suspend building and redo the studies which were flawed, but the dams being constructed by Genisa construction company are still being built.

The project is being financed by European Banks from Germany (DEG) and the Netherlands (FMO).

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