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INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

Varela to meet with indigenous leaders about Barro Blanco project

Temas:

President Juan Carlos Varela will head a government delegation that will meet today with indigenous groups and members of civil society to discuss the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project which is being built on the Tabasara River.

The meeting will start at noon in Tolé, Chiriquí.

Varela will be accompanied by Vice President Isabel De Saint Malo de Alvarado and ministers Alcibiades Vásquez (Social Development), Rodolfo Aguilera (Security), Mirei Endara (Environment), Milton Henríquez (Government) and Luis Ernesto Carles (Labor).

Varela said yesterday that the project, which is 95 percent done, "has to be completed," but also made it clear that "it will not begin operation until the completion of the dialogue" with indigenous groups opposed to it.

However, indigenous leaders have not moved from their position that the project should be cancelled.

"We have not changed our approach,", said indigenous leader Clementina Perez.

Fellow indigenous leader Ricardo Miranda also said the project needs to be abandoned due to the impact it will have on communities near it.

"Our proposal is what it has always been, cancellation...no more dialogue, only cancellation," said Miranda.

The project, which started construction in 2011, is being built by the company Generadora del Istmo.

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