Archdiocese of Panama urges conflict resolution with local tribe

.- The Archdiocese of Panama City called for dialogue to resolve the violence between the government and the local Gnöbe bugle Indian tribe which has left one person killed and 42 wounded.

Members of the tribe began protesting last week to oppose plans by the government to expand hydropower and mining operations in the country.  According to Europa Press, they have refused to sit down for talks with the government of President Ricardo Martinelli.

On Feb. 5, hundreds of tribe members blocked the only highway that connects Panama with the rest of Central America, and police efforts to clear the highway led to riots. One person was killed, 42 were injured and more than 40 were arrested.

The confrontations “further infuriated the Indians, who closed the door to any chance for dialogue” and said they would not sit down for talks until all those detained are released, the archdiocese said.

Tribe members say they want the Panamanian Congress to enact a law restricting mining companies from building hydroelectric plants in their region, arguing that the plants would have the negative impact on the environment as mining.

The Archdiocese of Panama called on authorities to “seek a solution through respectful and responsible dialogue with the Gnöbe leaders and to avoid violent confrontations that jeopardize the lives of people who are protesting.”

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