Date: Tue, 3 Dec 96 15:17:04 CST
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (pma_news)
Subject: Panama: Ngobe-Bugle Congress holds out for more land
On November 27 the Cabinet Council approved a proposal to create an autonomous Ngobe-Bugle comarca on 694,400 hectares in Veraguas, Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro provinces. The proposed new comarca encompasses about nine percent of Panama's land area, including most of Bocas del Toro. However, it excludes many indigenous-majority communities in Chiriqui and Veraguas, including areas where the government has granted mining concessions. Though the government's proposal would give indigenous authorities a say in mining, tourism, energy and park developments within the comarca, the Ngobe-Bugle General Congress is sticking to its demands for a 1.3 million hectare autonomous homeland and final control over developments there.
The plan next goes to the Legislative Assembly for debate and possible modifications. Ngobe and Bugle protesters who marched to the capital from eastern Chiriqui province in October and November vow to continue their vigil outside government offices to press their demands, and a hunger strike started by five of their number on November 26 continued as The Panama News went to press. The protest gained strength as leaders of all of Panama's other indigenous ethnic groups issued a statement that they support the Ngobe-Bugle demands.