Despite the 80 million dollars destined by the government for the development of the indigenous districts, this group continues today as the most affected by poverty and inequality in Panama.
According to the recent Multidimensional Study of Panama, developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), this population is more likely to live in poverty and manifest lower levels of satisfaction for their living conditions.
As a reference, they are more exposed to the risk of informal employment, lack of potable water and a lower level of electricity coverage than the rest of the country, the document stressed.
The Deputy Minister of Indigenous Affairs of the Ministry of Government, Feliciano Jiménez, told the journal La Estrella that the Comprehensive Plan for the Development of Native Peoples includes four key points that were agreed upon with the main leaders: water and sanitation, health, education and governance.
However, the lawyer and advisor of the indigenous congresses Héctor Huertas assured that this project is destined to fail, due to the absence of a comprehensive State policy aimed at the development of the regions.
He explained that these communities produce about 10 million dollars annually, but communities do not even keep 10 percent, because most of the money goes to private or foreign business, hence the need for legal reforms.
This discrimination towards the management model of the regions, adds that only 10 percent of indigenous women are professionals, Huertas added.
According to political scientist and sociologist Harry Brown, one of the reasons for the state’s abandonment to these areas is that ‘the country’s development model is based on a transit zone, and regions are far from this model of development.’
In addition to this, the concentration of wealth is not only statistical, but also geographical because it is basically transferred to two or three townships of the Republic, he underlined.
According to the OECD, another of Panama’s challenges is the poor quality of education and the high rates of dropout in secondary education, indices that frustrate students’ path to higher education, aggravate inequalities and reduce competitiveness of the labor force.
In this regard, the OECD study reports that almost half of the formal sector companies state difficulties in finding workers with the required skills, which contrasts with 38 per cent of the other OECD countries.