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Panama tribe in drug dilemma
Cocaine dumped by evading traffickers off Kuna Yala islands is tainting local way of life.
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2010 20:01 GMT


An indigenous tribe in the Kuna Yala Islands of Panama has found itself literally in the middle of a multi-billion dollar drug trafficking route.

The Kuna people earn their living mainly by farming and fishing off the Caribbean islands, as they have done for centuries.

But after smugglers in vessels commonly throw out blocks of cocaine into the waters as they try to evade capture, the stashes are often found by Kuna tribesmen who then sell them for huge profits.

Authorities say they have seen grave changes in Kuna's ways of life as a result of the cocaine influx.

Camilo Hackins, a local Kuna chief, told Al Jazeera: "Money from the illegal trade is a disease and we do not have a cure for it, it is threatening harmony for us, people want to get a lot of money and do little work."

Monica Villamizar reports from Panama.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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