The indigenous Kuna people of Panama need your help. The 60,000 Kuna have managed to remain culturally distinct in the face of the changes Panama has experienced this century. Living on 378 islands off the northeast part of the Isthmus, they have resisted efforts of outsiders to take their land.
Recently, the Kuna's problems began with the arrival of a friendly Canadian. The stranger made many friends by buying up Kuna handcrafts at double the going price. He requested that the Kunas provide him with the official tribal seal to authenticate the crafts for their marketing in north america. Coincidentally, the seal later appeared on documents authorizing the establishment of 6 gold mining concessions covering most of Kuna territory. The "friendly stranger" turned out to be Donald McInnes, the President of Western Keltic Mines, Inc. of Vancouver, Canada.
In this manner, Western Keltic acquired paper rights to mine Kuna territory. This trickery was accompanied by the company's successful lobbying of the Panamanian government to pass a law which gives the national government control over all mineral deposits on native lands...thus neutralizing protests from the Kuna General Congress.
Due to the political situation in Panama, the Kunas can expect little help from the Panamanian government in their attempts to protect their land. Western Keltic Mining is conducting an extensive "public relations" campaign to mask their land grab as a "humanitarian" effort to help the "backward" Kuna. The Kuna have very little international recognition and support.
Kuna High Chief Sahila Tomas De Leon is asking for your help to put pressure on Western Keltic and the government of Panama. Please write Western Keltic Mining and your Panamanian Embassy to demand the return to the Kuna people control of their own territory.
Western Keltic Mines
675 West Hastings St
Vancouver, BC Canada
Panamanian Ambassador to the U.S.A.:
His Excellency Jaimie Ford Boyd
c/o Embassy of Panama
2862 McGill Terrace NW
Washington, DC 20008 U.S.A.
For more information on the Kuna people's efforts for cultural survival, you may contact the foundation's official representative in the U.S.:
Max & Prudence Heffron
728 Canyon Road
Santa Fe, N.M. 87501 U.S.A.
Agustin L. Kantule
Nele Kantule Foundation
PO Box 5142
Panama City, Republic of Panama