Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal
Presidente de la República
Presidencia de la República
República de Panamá
Fax +(507) 527-9034
Dear Sr. Presidente,
As an advocate for human rights and environmental protection in my own country and around the world, I am pleased and relieved that the Panama government has revoked Law 30 and negotiated new laws through a process of dialogue following the July protests. These actions are exemplary, and they encourage me to request that you take further steps to redress the grievances of Panama’s Indigenous Peoples.
Specifically, I urge you to revoke Law No. 14, which criminalizes non-violent acts of protest, and Executive Decree No. 537, which restricts the right of Indigenous Peoples to choose their own leaders. The executive decree violates the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which (to your credit) Panama has endorsed. The Ngöbe people expressed their disapproval of the executive decree by refusing to vote in the government-sponsored election of Ngobe representatives on Oct. 24. Human Rights Everywhere reported serious human rights violations in the conduct of the government-imposed election. I am very concerned that the Panama government would appear to intervene in the selection of Ngöbe leaders who will make decisions about mining, dams, tourist resorts, and other development projects that will have enormous impacts on the Ngöbe people and their lands. To restore confidence, Executive Decree No. 537 must be revoked.
Thank you for taking appropriate actions to address these concerns.
Jose Salvador Munoz
Presidente de la Asamblea Nacional
Plaza 5 de Mayo, Panamá
Apartado Postal: 0815-01603,
Panamá, Rep. de Panamá
Fax: +(507) 512-8104
Please note: Postage from the US to Panama is 98 cents.
Note: the U.S. Congress has an opportunity to press Panama to implement human rights and environmental protections by writing this language into a bilateral free trade agreement, soon to be negotiated. So please send a copy of your letter to the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Rep. Sander Levin - Ways and Means Chairman
Longworth House Office Building, Room: 1236
Independence and New Jersey Avenues, S.E.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4961
Fax: (202) 226-1033
Email: visit http://www.house.gov/levin/levin_contact.shtml