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Over three consecutive days, residents of Pedro Gonzalez island, in Archipielago de las Perlas, Balboa District, Panama, are carrying out protests against an order that bans the development of their traditional agriculture. This order authorizes the National Environment Agency (ANAM) to displace the community from their lands, which caused the reaction of the inhabitants of the island.
The people affected don’t rule out the possibility that this is an action orchestrated with the real-estate tourism company of the Eletas family. They are the owners of the Telemetro TV channel, which in turn is part of the MEDCON corporation, owners of real-estate investments in this highly touristic area.
In response to the resolution by the ANAM, peasants took to the street against it by blocking roads since January 21. Their actions have been repressed by the police and seven peasants have been arrested.
Romel Toquen, of the Committee in Defense of Pedro Gonzalez Island, said to Radio Temblor: "We are against what investors want to do with the community, which is to take our livelihoods away from us, take our lands with the help of ANAM and local authorities".
Although this community claims that they have been working on these lands for over 100 years, they are being displaced and criminalized. About this, Toquen said: “the authorities are accusing us of crimes we didn’t commit, they say we don’t respect authorities and damage private property, so they are seeking to arrest us for 15 days”. Lastly, the resident of the Panama island requested solidarity for the peasant families that struggle for their land.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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