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At a glance: Panama

Latin American pop group Kudai visits Panama to highlight the needs of indigenous populations

© UNICEF Panama/2008/ Eskildsen
Popular Latin American pop group Kudai visited the Kuna Yala in Panama to create awareness on the needs of indigenous and excluded populations.

By Marti Ostrander

PANAMA CITY, Panama, 24 November 2008 –  Latin Grammy Award-Nominated Chilean pop group Kudai visited the autonomous territory of Kuna Yala recently in order to highlight the needs and concerns of indigenous and excluded populations.

Parts of the three-day visit will be broadcast by MTV Latin America, both on television and online. MTV is also producing a video diary of Kudai´s visits to different indigenous communities in the region.

The members of Kudai  – Tomás Cañas, Pablo Holman, Bárbara Sepúlveda and
Gabriela Villalba – are between the ages of 19 and 24. They were joined by  representatives from MTV and UNICEF on the trip in order to advocate for children whose voices often go unheard.

© UNICEF Panama/2008/ Eskildsen
Kudai’s Gabriela Villalba (left) dancing with members of the Kuna Yala community during a three-day visit.

Communicating needs and concerns

UNICEF Panama representative Mark Connolly noted that indigenous children in Latin America and Panama often do not have access to proper education or health care and their rights can be easily violated.

“With MTV as a partner, million of viewers, mostly youth, will have a better understanding of the concept of exclusion and how it is affecting our boys and girls throughout the region and Panama,” said Mr. Connolly.

During their visit, the pop stars spent time communicating with children and families in order to explore the concept of exclusion and what it means for the communities like Kuna Yala.

Singer Gabriela Villalba was impressed by the way the Kunas preserve their culture and their environment. “Because they are matriarchal society, women play an important role,” she said.

Understanding exclusion

Kudai´s manager Pablo Vega emphasized the importance of understanding indigenous populations and helping them conserve their traditions. “A better understanding of their culture will reduce discrimination,” Mr. Vega said.

UNICEF’s Mr. Connolly expressed great respect for the members of Kudai, especially for their way of communicating a positive message to other youths. He noted that teens like them are changing our world and making it a better place to live.

”It is unacceptable that the rights of boys, girls and teens of excluded populations are not fulfilled. Thus, UNICEF has to mobilize the necessary wills to change these realities”.




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