Spanish version

PUBLIC SERVICES

Indigenous leader denies detaining state officials

Those officials said they were held for four hours after a meeting about the Barro Blanco hydro project became heated.

Spanish version

Temas:

Clementina Pérez, chief of the Kodriri region of the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé, today denied that state officials were held hostage during a meeting to discuss the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project.

One of the officials, Deputy Minister of Indigenous Affairs Irene Gallego, claimed he and officials from the environmental authority Anam were held for four hours against their will.

But Pérez denied this claim, saying only that the meeting became "heated," which may have led to the misunderstanding.

"Mr. Gallego came to discuss the project. There was an escalation of tempers, but things calmed down. He has left and is now home," the chief said 

The project, being built on the Tabasará River in Tolé, Chiriquí, is widely opposed in the comarca due to its impact on native areas once it becomes operational. The project is 95 percent complete, but work has been suspended by Anam due to alleged violations of its environmental impact assessment.

Pérez also confirmed the attendance of President Juan Carlos Varela in a meeting about the project tomorrow in the comarca.

Gallego said he and the Anam officials were prevented from leaving for four hours, and were only released when Varela promised to meet with them. They were put on public transport to San Felix, where they were reunited with other government officials.

"I went to represent the president at a meeting, but they were bothered by the non-presence of the president, and I was told that I could not leave," said the deputy minister.

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