What is going on in Panama? And just what exactly are Canadian mining companies doing down there?
Dana Holtby and Rosie Simms, two McGill students currently studying in Panama, wrote an article in March and another recently about ongoing indigenous resistance to proposed international mining projects in the Central American country. It’s a fascinating story that has a strong Canadian connection so I talked to them to find out more about it. Click the audio player above to hear our interview on Skype.
Having spent over a year in Panama myself, I know that strange things can happen there when big money resource projects are at stake. Case in point: two Spanish journalists and human rights activists residing in Panama were recently detained without charges, allegedly bullied and then kicked out of the country for documenting and supporting Ngäbe Indigenous protests against the Cerro Colorado mine in Chiriquí.
Indigenous and environmental groups throughout Panama have been staging massive protests against reforms to the mining code, approved by President Martinelli in early February. Agence France-Presse reported that clashes between protesters and police erupted around the country when demonstrators set up blockades along the Pan-American Highway and demanded that Martinelli reverse the legislation.
And the Canadian connection? Here’s how Holtby and Simms explain it in their articles: