A group of indigenous people, who have been blocking the Inter-American Highway in Panama to protest the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the west of the country, reopened the road Tuesday, but they made it clear that they will continue protesting and urged the government to cancel the project.
“We have reopened the Inter-American Highway, but the conflict remains, because President Juan Carlos Varela said that he was not going to cancel the hydroelectric project of Barro Blanco.” David Ricardo Miranda, the leader of the indigenous autonomous community Ngäbe-Bugle.
Indigenous people and campesinos from west Panama have been protesting since last week, demanding President Varela stops the European-funded hydroelectric project, which, according to them, will affect their communities and crops due to the flooding the dam may cause.
Protesters closed the highway, the Central American section of the Pan-American Highway, for two consecutive days.
It connects Panama with Costa Rica and spans 3,400 miles between Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Panama City.
Earlier this year indigenous leaders from the Ngäbe-Bugle community met with Panamanian authorities and the project's contractor, in order to solve the indigenous demands, however the deals reached have not been met so far.
If the indigenous communities manage to halt the project, the Panamanian government could face a multimillion dollar suit from German Investment Corporation (DEG) and the Dutch Development Bank (FMO).