Three indigenous defendants accused of instigating project delays and causing financial losses during protests at the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project in western Panama have been acquitted of all charges. According to an opposition group leader, the company provided no concrete proof that he or any of the other 60-plus protestors trespassed on its property or impeded the work of its personnel. The dam is fully operational and its reservoir has flooded the land of three Ngäbe-Bugle communities.
The Ngäbe-Bugle General Congress, the decisionmaking body of a semi-autonomous region in Panama, voted down an agreement that would have allowed the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam to start operation. Members of the Ngäbe-Bugle General Congress argue that their former leadership lacked the authority to negotiate the agreement. The Panamanian government is currently holding meetings to formalize the rejection of the dam and intends to reinitiate negotiations on the stalled project.
Beginning in April, the Panama Canal will set new restrictions on ships because of the falling water levels of nearby lakes that filter into the waterway. The Panama Canal Authority (APC) is hopeful that the impact on operations will be minimal. Beginning on April 18, ships must have a maximum depth of 39 feet. Ships loaded after March 21 will be required to comply with these restrictions. These measures have been described as "temporary and preventative." They are connected to impacts on the local climate from El Nino.