Panama Campaign Update: Ngöbe Elect New Leader, Demand Electoral Autonomy

Last week, while the rest of Panama was celebrating Carnival, Ngöbe people from across the country gathered to elect a new president of the Ngöbe Bugle Congress, Panama’s largest Indigenous organization.
 
Celio Guerra began his term as president by demanding that Panama revoke Executive Decree #537, which created a government-controlled electoral system. Ngöbe people rejected the government-imposed system last October, when 80 percent of eligible Ngöbe voters abstained from the government-controlled polls. Guerra’s election last week was an act in defiance of Executive Decree #537.
 
Panamanian human rights and environmental organizations, as well as the Ngöbe Bugle Congress, consider Executive Decree #537 an attempt by the government to influence the election of Ngöbe leaders and open the way for multinational mining companies to exploit copper and gold deposits in Ngöbe territory.
 
To support the Ngöbe people in demanding their right to autonomous elections and free, prior, and informed consent concerning proposed mining projects, please read the Global Response action alert and send emails or letters to Panamanian authorities.