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How the People of EVERYWHERE Took Back Playa Paunch

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France has been writing on this blog for over a year. You can follow France and her adventures HERE...

In Panama, we feel the effects of climate change every day. The weather can veer sharply from extreme drought to severe flooding, putting the people, the environment, and even the economy at risk. Food, water and energy shortages will keep affecting those parts of the world who don't get their act together.

Only resilient communities who unite organically will be prepared for what the future holds. This goes hand in hand with providing better opportunities to every kid in the world, which at Habla Ya and in many places all around, we call Permaculture.

Few places in Planet Earth feel the impact more acutely than in coastal towns and islands such as Bocas del Toro, San Blas, and everywhere in the Caribbean.

The World Bank found that between 1982 and 2008, Panama was struck by 32 natural disaster events, with total economic damages around USD$86 million. Like most of the region, Panama's vulnerability to climate change is only expected to grow, by increasing variability and intensity of precipitation events, leading to floods and droughts. Food and renewable energy security are essential. The combination of climate change, human pollution and construction, and overfishing also directly puts the fragile ecosystem of the coral reefs at risk.

#NuestroOroEsVERDE y #NuestroOroEsAZUL.

Si combinamos verde y azul... obtenemos #CARIBE.



Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Knowing this, would you approve the private construction of a 40-metre dock above a living coral reef on a pristine beach in Bocas?

Most environmentally conscious people that wouldn't like to die in a natural disaster that rivals the Old Testament would say no, right? Thus, you can imagine the surprise of the Bocas community- and even the local town government- to find that President of the Argentinean chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Ernesto Gutierrez Conte, had received a permit from the national government to construct a private dock at Playa Paunch? Paunch is a pristine public beach whose thriving coral reefs and high waves made it a favorite of local and foreign surfers alike. The construction began clearing 500 feet of jungle (the island's natural barrier against storms) and drilling deep into the fragile coral reef that provides a fragile ecosystem to marine life.

We at Habla Ya would like to share with you how the community came together to fight the environmental degradation of the island we call our home:

1. Gather and Share Information

When news spread that a dock was being built at Playa Paunch in direct line of the surf and above the coral reefs, concerned members of the community sought out more information. They met with local government leaders to seek out more information on who was building the dock to best inform their strategy and approach for halting the construction.

2. Organize

Once they had all the facts, they reached out to the local community to organize a protest and peacefully disrupt the construction. The protests showed Conte and the developers that the local community was united in opposition to their work.

Part of our commitment to our community is standing with them when our natural resources are endangered. Playa Paunch sits on a fragile coral reef that is now threatened by private development. Given the realities of climate change, it's now more important than ever to protect our beaches, corals, mangroves, and communities that depend on them from man-made destruction. Our #environment is what our children will inherent and we intend to protect it! Thanks for the photo @bevychen #paunchprotest : : #hablaya #traveldeeper #learnspanish #visitpanama #panama #ig_caribbean #panamagram #instatravel #travelgram #tourist #tourism #getaway #ilovetravel #traveling #travelpics #passportready #beach #beachlife #igerspanama #Summer #wanderlust #sea #islandvibes #bucketlist #ParisAgreement #climatechange #conservation #bocasdeltoro

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3. Use Social Media and Traditional Media to Find Allies

Realizing that they were a small community and needed to build a broad coalition to make an impact, they simultaneously, worked tirelessly to spread the word about what was going on in Bocas on social media, gaining the support of natural allies such as surfers and environmental activists from around the world. As news spread online, traditional media reported on the story, building on the pressure to halt the dock.

4. Walk and Bike The Streets

Many members of the local local community who are typically not using social media, will not be aware of what is going on if you do not go around and talk about it with your friends. By knowing Spanish, Guari Guari and/or Ngäbe you will be able to connect with the local Panamanian community and get their support. Panamanians really respect and appreciate expats who show their support for a common cause regardless of where you come from. And we know how to say "GRACIAS" and "ALOHA" at the same time too.

#monolocosurfschool #bocastown #surf #friends #bocaslifestyle #bocasdeltoro #caribe

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5. Reach Wide and FAR

Taking care of our beaches, and the world's natural resources is everyone's responsibility. If you have any international allies, give them a call, write them a personal message over email, facebook or whatsapp. The more of us helping out, the more can be accomplished to ensure a brighter today and tomorrow for all the children of the world, regardless their skin, nationality, religion, etc.

The Caribbean is a spectacle of shades and hues of blue and green, and Bocas del Toro, being one of the last places of the world to emerge from the Ocean, holds one of the highest rate of biodiversity found out there, certainly worth protecting to the end.

For more about surfing in Bocas del Toro check out this guide...

Where Are We, and How Can You Help?

A dock this size requires an environmental impact study before moving forward and the explicit approval of the local environmental department. Thus, due to community’s pressure, the pier’s construction has been put on hold and put under investigation.

The fight is not over, however, until the construction is ordered to stop completely. If you would like to help protect the environment and get involved in protecting Playa Paunch, join the fight on Facebook at Salvemos Playa Paunch and sign a petition here.

A follow up meeting with the community at Parque Simon Bolivar to plan what is next will be scheduled soon.

We can’t continue on a path that destroys our natural environment here in Panama and all around the world. We have a responsibility to leave this earth better than it was when we came into it.

The residents of Bocas del Toro have managed to build a #HumanChain to protect Playa Paunch. Will they be able to keep their hands united and tackle a couple of other things in the community such as trash, inequality and education for all? Time will tell. In the meantime we say it LOUD and CLEAR!

Somebody once said that a picture is worth a thousand words! Juanco, at his home break. Paunch, Bocas Del Toro Panama

A post shared by Red Frog Bungalows (@redfrogbungalows) on

The summer months of June, July and August in Bocas del Toro are renown for glassy conditions and offshore winds. Maybe you should join us this summer and check it out! Bocas' mini season is a favorite for many surfers from all around the world who call this Archipelago the Indonesia of the Caribbean.

The only person missing is you 😋😋😋😝😜

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Click HERE to find more about Bocas del Toro's surf and in case you needs surf lessons, check out Mono Loco Surf School.

Here at Habla Ya we're giving away 1 FREE TOUR every week if you book 4 weeks of Spanish lessons or MORE...

La Playa Es de TODOS + Las Playas Son de TODOS = Bocas del Toro
Nuestro Oro Es VERDE + Nuestro Oro Es AZUL = #CARIBE
Nuestro Oro Es ROJO + Nuestro Oro Es LUZ = #ALOHA
Caribe + Aloha = #RESPECT y #FRATERNIDAD
Marketing + Community = Justicia



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We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years. So search our blog to plan your vacation. From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss. You'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while on vacation!

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