News / 19 June 2013

Will UN-rapporteur Anaya investigate Barro Blanco dam in Panama?

And will James Amaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, ask the Panama government to halt the construction of the disastrous dam for the time being? This is what Both ENDS calls for in a letter to mr. Anaya, together with 12 civil society organizations, including four from Panama. It’s urgent because the Barro Blanco Dam, planned in the Tabasará river, is destructive to the Ngäbe indians.

House and heritage end up under water
The Ngäbe Indians living around the river will be threatened in their existence by the dam. The danger is that some of their homes and their religious, cultural and historical sites will disappear under water. The flowing river will turn into a stagnantl lake, with serious consequences for food production and landscape. The environment and biodiversity around the river will be radically impoverished.


No voice
Were the Ngäbe informed and asked for their consent on this project? Well no, although this is required under international law. It is a mystery how the environmental impact study of this project ever got approved. One of the Panamanian organizations (CIAM) initiated a lawsuit to fight it.


This project resorts under CDM, the Clean Development Mechanism. Established by the UN, this mechanism is designed to allow developed countries to finance large climate friendly projects in developing countries at the lowest costs possible. That is supposed to be cheaper than having developed countries reduce their own CO2-emissions. But the Barro Blanco dam constitutes serious violations of rights of indigenous people. And because of that Both ENDS and 12 other organizations have the opinion that such a project should not be part of CDM.


FMO embarrased?
Both ENDS has been conferring for a long time with the FMO, the Dutch development bank, that invested 25 million dollar in this project. FMO has not shown much interest in the problems of Barro Blanco. FMO has seems to have one hundred procent confidence in the Round Table process that is going on in Panama. But while the talks drag along the construction continues. We hope that interference of James Anaya will lead to clear agreements with the Ngäbe indians, before the dam suddenly appears. What if James Anaya gets serious about the rights of the Ngäbe? Wouldn’t the FMO be embarrassed by that?

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