Obtaining reliable, on-the-ground information turns out to be the easy part, however. Although the deforestation monitoring technology of the Wounaan and other Indigenous groups in Central and South America is rapidly improving, getting governments to act on land-grabbing and deforestation is a major challenge. Indigenous leaders say that in Panama, for example, the national government frequently sides with businesses, ranchers, loggers, and colonizers, despite ample evidence that they are illegally clearing Indigenous land.
Since early 2021, the Wounaan have submitted eight complaints, or denuncias, to the Panamanian authorities, covering more than 300 acres of clearcuts in and around the Wounaan communities of Rio Hondo, Platanares, Majé, and Aruza. MiAmbiente quantified the damage at around $44,000. To date, three denuncias have proceeded to the point where MiAmbiente can serve summons and issue fines to colonizers. But, much to the Wounaan’s frustration, MiAmbiente has yet to take action.
“The government is corrupt, and they don’t understand or care about the Indigenous people,” says a community leader in Majé, who asked not to be identified for security reasons.Panama’s Indigenous Groups Wage High-Tech Fight for Their Lands – Yale E360