One of the subjects in the field of Indigenous Rights in the Republic of Panama that has always been in discussions and negotiations is the Right of the Indigenous Population to Consultation in the projects to be carried out in their ancestral territories, legalized or not, included in international instruments and tendencies of multilateral banks.
Although Panama didn’t ratify convention 169 of International Organisation of Work (IOT) in 1989, it has laws that recognise and legalize indigenous territories where most of the biodiversity resources are found. During recent years the economic policies and geopolitical strategies of the Panamanian State have protected the indigenous territories, respecting indigenous rights in Panama.
Like other human groups living in the Panamanian territory, the indigenous peoples enjoy the same rights and liberties sanctioned by national laws and international instruments ratified by Panama; however, this doesn’t mean that they have special rights, for their own cultural models that distinguish them from other cultures.
Less-than-recent data indicate that more than 3 million Panamanians, about 10%, belong to eight indigenous Panamanian peoples: Ngobe, Kuna, Embera, Wounaan, Bugle, Naso, Bri-Bri and Bokotas, established mainly in five counties: Comarca Kuna Yala, Comarca Embera-Wounaan, Comarca Kuna de Madungandi, Comarca Ngobe-Bugle and Comarca Kuna de Wargandi. These indigenous populations in Panama occupy 22.20% of the isthmus’ 74,926.77 km2. (Continues)