Kuna Communities Celebrate in Panama

ELAW eBulletin Kuna Communities Celebrate in Panama ELAW partners in Panama have reported a great victory for indigenous Kuna communities and fragile marine ecosystems!

Proposed site of new port in Puerto Verde, Panama.   PHOTO: Heidi Weiskel

In the Spring ELAW Advocate, we reported on our Panamanian partners’ efforts to challenge a major port in Colón, Panama.  The proposed Puerto Verde (ironically meaning “Green Port”) would have devastated indigenous communities, and destroyed mangroves, corals, and seagrasses.  It would also have affected the study areas of the oldest tropical biology research institute on the continent — the coastal laboratory at Punta Galeta-operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

With a price tag exceeding US $7 billion, Puerto Verde would have compromised small aquacultural operations, razed an island covered in mangroves, and disturbed more than 1.6 square miles of the ocean floor.

ELAW Staff Scientist Heidi Weiskel collaborated with our partners at the Environmental Advocacy Center (CIAM) in Panama to review the environmental and social impact assessment and provide scientific support for challenging Puerto Verde.  Isaias Ramos led CIAM’s effort, incorporating ELAW’s comments and submitting CIAM’s findings to Panama’s national environmental agency (ANAM).

In October, ANAM issued a report highlighting numerous deficiencies in the Puerto Verde proposal.  Problems included the failure to consult with local communities, failure to employ adequate risk management procedures, and the failure to include a plan to restore impacted mangroves and coral reefs.  We recently received word that Puerto Verde’s developers have withdrawn their proposal.

We stand by to help our partners in Panama make sure this victory holds, and indigenous communities and marine ecosystems are protected.

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director

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