September 3 2013
Cerro Punta lies at an altitude of about 2000 meters (6500 feet) very close to the Biological Corridor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerro_Punta,_Chiriqu%C3%AD
Fundiccep (http://www.fundiccep.org/) is an environmental organization whose headquarters has been in this town for 20 years. We wanted to see them again and their new headquarters. Damaris was in Brazil at a conference but David and Luis were there. They filled me on a few developments.
The strike closing down the PanAmerican highway by the Gnabes was effective in shutting down the mining permits the government had granted in the Comarca Gnabe-Bugle. Fundiceep was active in the education efforts. There are a number of problems with mining operations in these areas. 1) The government is ineffective at enforcing most laws, let alone environmental safeguards. 2) Copper and gold mining yield toxic wastes that are hard to deal with even by conscientious mining companies. 3) Releases of these wastes would contaminate the water supply of these indigenous peoples. Benefits to the locals would be minor.
On the matter of the hydro-electic projects, there are 6 or 7 under construction and another 19 already approved, but there is time to stop them. The main problem with these projects is the lack of water necessary to produce good supplies of power even if, as the law allows, the projects can take 90% of the water out of the streams. I find the who idea to be absurd given the size of the steams- not rivers, streams- in the area.
The new facility is complete on the lower level, which contains two dormitory rooms and a kitchen, as well as a meeting area. The upper floor is for training and community use but is not yet complete.
I got to know this organization well during our time in the Peace Corps. I developed a website for them, not in use unfortunately.