Panama: Protect Ngöbe Lands and Rights

The current project in Panama: Protect Ngöbe Lands and Rights is a perfect example of how anthropologists today are making great strides against the influence of government’s power in deprecating the value of a certain group of indigenous people’s land, language and culture. Recently, the Panama government has taken interest in the Ngöbe’s land for profit. An American Company known as AES (Applied Energy Services) has been granted the right to build multiple large hydroelectric dams. The government and the AES are trying to create and maintain groups in order to compete and claim the Ngöbe’s limited material and symbolic resources. These dams would lead to the destruction of the Ngöbe’s territory, homes, fields, communities and families. Anthropologist’s current goal aims to stop this project by filing suit against the government and the AES.
A past anthropological concept has proven the discriminatory ways government power has been used against the Ngöbe’s society. Power is most commonly thought of as force and is divided into three areas, authority, persuasion, and coercion. The Panama government’s authority over the country’s land has proved a difficult task in maintaining the Ngöbe’s right to their territory. AES and the government have wrongfully tried to use persuasion in order to make the Ngöbe leave their land by providing them with documents to sign that they cannot read. They have also tried coercing the Ngöbe by using force to eliminate the natives from their land.
Another concept known as self-determination helps to enforce the rights of the Ngöbe through this difficult time. Self-determination is the concept that groups with a distinct culture and identity have a right to choose their own political arrangements and their own collective destiny. The AES and Panama Government are trying to strip these rights from them, even by using unprincipled techniques to get what they want.   AES has no right to construct the damn without coming to an agreement...