The Pan-American Highway is Closed (Again)

by Rose

Last month the Pan-American International Highway was closed for eight days due to roadblocks by the Ngobe-Bugle, one of the indigenous tribes of Panama. The Ngobe covered parts of the highway and roads in other towns as well with sticks, pieces of metal, rocks, tires and themselves, in protest to the goverments removal of a law that provided enviromental protection to their land and would allow hydro-electric power and mining in their region. (Their land  is home to Cerro Colorado – the second largest copper deposit in the world – but it also holds several other but significant sites already under exploration by foreign mining companies. )

The Ngobe leaders and the goverment had been in negotiation for the last couple of weeks up until today, but apparently the talks have failed and the road is closed again.

Trucks unable to get to their destinations due to road closure (Photo from

For those of you who do not know it, the Pan-Am Highway is the only road from the Panama Canal/Southern Panama to Northern Panama. Thats it.

So with the road being closed, it means no more fuel, food or supplies being brought to where we live. We did alright last month, as we had stocked up a little on food and gas, but if the road closures go longer than a couple weeks this time, we will certainly be homebound, due to no fuel. And eating a lot of rice and beans.

Last month the road closures cost the people of Panama-millions of dollars in those 8 days, but I am not convinced it hurt the pocketbooks of the goverment nor caused them as much discomfort as the people of Panama. (“The closure the American Highway by the Ngobe-Bugle Indians has caused losses to the agricultural sector estimated at $3.2 million, however, the figure may be higher, said Oscar Osorio, head of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA),” reported

Personally I do not understand why the Ngobe believe the road closures will assist them in changing the mind of the goverment. (Let us be clear-I am not saying the Ngobe should back down from their convictions. I just do not understand their methods.) I also am afraid this second go round might end up getting a little bloody and I hate to think of it.

I will keep everyone posted of how things are going down south of the border. Keep us in your prayers, as we do you.

Blessings to you all! Rose