The Panamanian Parliament (AN) approved today a bill that creates the Naso Tjer Di indigenous region, which becomes the sixth in the country and is located in the western zone, near the border with Costa Rica.
The AN stated that said bill establishes that the lands located within the Naso Tjer Di territory "are the collective property of that people, who will administer it, will perpetually own the land’s rights and take advantage of it, in order to achieve their economic, social, cultural and political wellbeing".
In parallel and also highlighting the importance of the communal indigenous rights especially in Latin America, the Foundation for Due Process (DPLF) announced yesterday the publication of a new manual that seeks to provide indigenous peoples with resources necessary to defend their rights against the risk of being violated.
Under the name of "Manual para defender los derechos de los pueblos indígenas y tribales", the document updates a previous version of 2009 and makes information and tools available to these groups that can help defend their rights at present, according to a statement from the NGO.
The AN noted that "The new Naso Tjer Di indigenous region will be segregated from the territory of the district of Changuinola, in the province of Bocas del Toro, and will have as its head the community of Sieyic, on the banks of the Teribe River "
The bill, presented by opposition deputy Ausencio Palacios, has yet to be sanctioned by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela to enter into force.
In Panama there are about 400,000 indigenous people, who represent about 11 percent of the total population and are grouped into 7 main ethnic groups: Emberá, Wounaan, Guna, Ngäbe, Buglé, Naso and Bri-Bri. Many of these people live in the five indigenous regions that currently have their own legal recognition and autonomy: Embera-Wounaan, Guna Yala, Ngäbe-Buglé, Madugandi and Wargandi.
Although the Central American country is one of the fastest growing in the region, the situation of indigenous people is precarious: poverty affects 96.7 percent of the people and chronic malnutrition affects 72 percent of children under the age of 5, according to the latest official survey.