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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Ngäbe-Buglé Fight to Maintain Territorial Sovereignty

  • Author(s): Bivin Ford, Sara Elizabeth
  • et al.

The Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca was created in 1997, granting the Ngäbe-Buglé people territorial autonomy. Since its creation, however, they have fought against the government and foreign multinationals to maintain this territorial autonomy. This thesis will recount the many obstacles the Ngäbe-Buglé overcame in order to establish their Comarca, as well as their recent struggles to gain control over the resources within this territory. Most recently, the Ngäbe have been battling the encroachment of the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project into a portion of their territory. They have employed various methods of resistance, including road blockades, sit-ins and direct dialogue with Panamanian government representatives. Their struggle, and that of indigenous peoples in Panama as a whole for greater recognition, will be analyzed through the lens of the Indian Question. Finally, a look at what development means for the Comarca as a whole will be explored, as well as where both the Panamanian State and the Ngäbe-Buglé can go from here

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