Weni Bagama

Weni Bagama is a Panamanian environmental activist fighting for the human rights of the largest comarca indígena (indigenous region) in Panama, Ngöbe-Buglé. Since 1997, the communities have been going against the national economic expansions which rely on mining and recently hydropower. As of 2006, the Ngöbe- Buglé communities have been impacted by the Barro Blanco dam, a gravity dam located in the Tabasará River due to its violation of territorial rights for the Ngöbe. Bagama is the leader of the M10 Movement of the Tabasara River, a resistance movement trying to put an end to the Barro Blanco. The rising waters from the dam’s testing have created the destruction of homes, ceremonial and archaeological sites in addition to crops for the indigenous village. Other dam projects have caused devastation leading to entire villages being swept away by water. For the movement in the Ngöbe-Buglé community, women activists have been faced with violence including systematic assault, imprisonment, and riot squads. Bagama and other Panamanian environmentalists hope the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights would put pressure on the government to fix the situation and stop the repression of environmental activism in Panama.

 

Illustration by Connor Linde

Panama 

This illustration of Weni Bagama was inspired by the intricate enagua dresses worn by the Ngöbe women in western Panama. Adorned with geometric patterns radiating from the neck, enaguas are said to represent the mountains and the ripples of rivers. As Weni fights for her land and the natural flow of the river, leaves and flowers sprout as the flood has passed with the removal of the dam.

Total Area
74,177.3 km2 (42nd)

Demonym
Panamanian

Government
Unitary presidential constitutional republic

Population
4,058,374

Capital
Panama City

GDP (PPP)
$20,512