Film cited rising tensions of native land struggle photo Feliciano, identified as a leader, addresses a gathering of native peoples.

The trouble between the native peoples of Bocas del Toro and the government in Panamá had been building up for years. In the documentary “Paraiso for Sale” by Anayansi Prado, the rising tension between both sides is depicted as the film documents the fight and struggle of land disputes in the area.

“The film is a foreshadowing of what is happening now,” said Ms. Prado in an interview.

She spent from the end of 2007 until 2009 investigating and documenting the lives of those who have made Bocas del Toro their home. Among the stories there is one of a native leader fighting about the land disputes and inequalities toward the natives of that area. His story includes protests and peaceful confrontations with police. She said at one point during an interview with him in 2009 he foresees the actions taken by the Ngöbe Buglé people. Almost three years later his prediction came true.

“Paraiso for Sale” also brings up the case of retiring Americans buying land and making Bocas del Toro home. Similar to Costa Rica, many Americans purchased property with legitimate documents. Many times the land turns out to be taken illegally from someone else and resold without any consent. It is either stolen land, or forced taken land. The deals gone awry take years to dispute with no guarantee of land ownership or compensation for time and lawyer fees, according to the film.

“It is not clear on who owns the land. You can’t really point fingers,” said Ms. Prado.

According to the film’s Web site the documentary explores issues of modern day colonialism, residential tourism, global gentrification and reverse migration by revealing that immigration between Latin America and the United States is not just a one-way street.

The 73-minute documentary features music by Ruben Blades, who served as Panama’s tourism minister. He is an internationally known Latin jazz and salsa singer.

The film has not yet been released in Costa Rica. Those interested in more information about the film can email

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