by Kenn Orphan
They reside in the lush rainforest that blankets much of the country. Their villages are simple, but graciously laid out with the natural world around them.
The people have a
reverence for wildlife, using only what they need, and culture,
ancestral ways and community are paramount. But as in every other
place on the planet they have been under siege by the forces of
Rare species like the Tabasará rain frog are threatened with extinction due to the loss of habitat. Four years ago a dam claimed a small indigenous village on the sacred Tabasará River.
The villagers narrowly
escaped drowning as their homes flooded in the night. They were
given no warning.
While the Ngäbe-Buglé have protested their dispossession and the destruction to their way of life, they have been met with threats, disappearances and violence from the state and operatives from various companies who stand to benefit from the projects.
But the lords of capital, the banks, hold the most power...
In stark contrast to the Ngäbe-Buglé way of life is the wealthy new high rise section of the capital, Panama City.
Here glass and steel towers scrap an unforgiving hot Central American sky. Yet there are few sidewalks in this area. The moneyed elite drive directly into their palatial condos through secured garage doors on the street.
There isn't a need nor is
there a desire to walk here unless you are poor.
But about an hour and a half away from the capital is the forgotten City of Colón where most of the inhabitants are people of color and poverty is crushing.
In truth, most of the
extreme wealth entering the Panama Canal is concentrated in the
ruling top .01%.
Millions of indigenous people around the world have been evicted from their ancestral lands only to wind up in the hellhole slums of megacities.
Here they are most often
locked in poverty, forced to abandon their culture and language for
conformity, and forgotten by society. To be sure, this is the world
global capitalism envisions for us
...the threat of annihilation is both real and imminent.
Thanks to a system of global capital they are up against powerful forces that seek to strip the earth of every last resource for the profit of a few. And they will eliminate anyone who stands in their way.
The NGO Global Witness reported that over 200 indigenous rights activists have been murdered around the world last year. A record...
Berta Cáceres was a victim of
this global crime. And today there is no sign of this carnage
Of course they have always been on that front line since the early days of colonialism. Days where outright genocide was common.
But through the lens of catastrophic climate change and biospheric collapse, the current economic order must be seen as the death cult that it is:
And it is the indigenous who are closest to the living earth who stand most in the way of their plunder.
They are rendered
non-persons in corporate media and displaced or eliminated so that
the flow of capital continues uninterrupted. And with
capitalism itself on its last legs,
that death cult is becoming ever more desperate, duplicitous,
vicious and bold.
Insects hummed around me. Tropical birds pierced the canopy of trees with shrieks. The humid air dampened my clothes. I could hear the sounds of children laughing as they came home from school.
Old women hung out colorful clothes to dry and they immediately reminded me of Tibetan prayer flags. A young artist was sitting in his cabin with the door open carving a beautiful piece of fallen wood.
He looked at me and smiled.
I wonder sometimes what has become of him and that village.
But I will admit I am
afraid to find out...