News / 30 August 2016

Worrying new developments around Barro Blanco

Three days after the first homes were flooded as a consequence of the Barro Blanco dam, the government of Panama signed an agreement about this dam with a number of representatives of the Ngäbe-Bugle people. The affected communities however have still not been involved in the process. Both ENDS is worried about these developments. 

Affected communities don't  support the agreement

The construction of the Barro Blanco dam, partly financed by the Dutch development bank FMO, is strongly opposed by the inhabitants of the area surrounding the dam. Nevertheless, on August 22nd an official agreement was signed between the government of Panama and representatives of the indigenous Ngäbe-Bugle people, including regional chief Casica Carrera. The government presents the agreement as a great success, whilst in the meantime some communities are being flooded. These communities, some of which are represented by the local group M-10, are still not involved in the process and do not support the agreement. During the signing ceremony they staged a fierce protest.

Flooded houses
Three days before the signing of the agreement, the water level of the Barro Blanco reservoir began to rise quickly. The water level now is higher than ever before. Houses have been inundated and people are forced to leave their possessions and land. Without any compensation and alternative shelter, they are now homeless. Furthermore, some communities seem to be completely isolated as access roads have been flooded, as well as their source of drinking water and the pyroglyphics, which are of great cultural value to the Ngäbe-Bugle.

No confidence
Just like the initial, so-called 'test flooding' in May the continued filling up of the reservoir occurs without consent or even prior warning of the affected communities. Adding to the fact that the filling of the reservoir was resumed three days before the signing of the agreement, this will even further undermine the confidence that local communities might still have had in the official consultation processes. Probably it will also further impede their approval of the agreement of the 22nd.

Financiers should take responsibility
Both ENDS continues to be worried about the further rising of the water level and the violation of indigenous rights during the construction of the Barro Blanco dam. Dutch and international financers, like FMO, should make the participation of affected communities their top priority. Both ENDS considers it unacceptable that indigenous people have to leave their land without consent or warning.


Previous news about Barro Blanco:
• 2 June 2016: Indigenous land submerged by illegal clusure of dam
• 1 June 2015: FMO did not follow its own rules in financing Barro Blanco dam
• 18 May 2015: Dutch FMO pushed Panama to continue construction Barro Blanco dam
• 6 May 2015: Construction of Barro Blanco dam will be resumed
• 11 Feb 2015: Construction Barro Blanco dam finally suspended


Both ENDS has been involved in Barro Blanco since the beginning.

Also see this video testimony of inhabitant Weni Bagama on Facebook or Twitter (Spanish spoken, English subtitles).


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