(Field notes: June 3, 2016 — Kia, Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé)
Depending on the circumstance here in Kia, I might leave for a bit. I have to go write a paper on Ngäbe pedagogy. I need to use my computer for a week or so to coalesce my findings into something coherent for publication.
But other matters are pressing. The reservoir lake is expanding. The militarized police has been showing up in boats and have been attempting to surveil from drones. I took a picture of one yesterday. They fly really high but they make an obvious buzzing sound. I suppose they want to know how many people are in one place and where is the water level in relation to people’s homes.
Back in the Interamerican Highway… After the police officers refused to let the indigenous people protest, a few of the Ngäbe youth engaged the police with their slingshots. The police retaliated with big numbers of officers. They use rubber bullets and aluminum pellets that work like shotguns, although not necessarily lethal. Other weapons include molotov cocktails on one side, and tear gas from the other. Right now, (Thursday night) the police is chasing the Ngäbe into Ngäbe territory trying to capture the leaders of the attack (presumably). I understand that these Ngäbe will come back to Kia on Friday night. Perhaps the fighting will continue on Monday, but I don’t know where. I suppose that the police might want to move the confrontation away from the Interamerican Highway to protect the free flow of traffic, but that would mean also that they could become more violent. Another idea is that the Ngäbe could better maneuver their defense and attack in this familiar landscape.
If things remain tense, I will remain here in Kia to try to film and take pictures of whatever scenario might ensue. I am afraid about loosing my gear if I get taken prisoner. I should practice where to hide my electronic equipment and books. I say it like this because I will probably fight along the Ngäbe. If a single police officer harms any kid or elderly (but probably anyone really), I will have to engage them directly. This is the social implication of being part of the effort, hospitality and friendship.
The precarity of these people and their friendship to me gives me no choice but to help them if they are being abused. It seems most sensible this way. Their way to action might be reckless to our eyes, but to them, their is honor in defending their livelihood. The academic should be careful and ingenuous, but not to the extent of giving treason to trust. I have shared with them my ideas of protesting peacefully, but ultimately it has been their ceaseless fight and experience that will show the way to action, not mine.
The dichotomy that “war” prepares in people’s minds is very real, although immaterial, it is a dialectic of rage. The police is a tool for the government and the firm, but remains as enemy. Even though the people inside this uniform must relegate their political morals to their own precarious situation of job security. Police officers’ confusion or lack there of can be seen in their physical power. Their brutality towards the Ngäbe (even kids) is strange. A search for “humanity” in them, as cops, is totally futile. Indeed, humanity and the humanities entail all perversities. The false adjective of being human as being compassionate enervates the whole process of the category. The discipline is dead. The inter-discipline is too distant for lay people. My own discursive is scattered in the myriad trajectories of the condition of being poor and different.