In Latin America, the role of the state in funding and implementing environmental protection has been consistently inadequate. As alternative responses develop, national and international conservation NGOs replace governments in the quest for environmental sustainability. The environmental discourses and practices—and the morality accompanying resource use and conservation—privileged by the donor organizations become the environmental truth by which environmental sustainability is planned and designed. The goal of this article is to contribute to the more recent literature on power dynamics product of the collaboration among allies in global environmental and indigenous rights issues. It addresses the alliances developed among North American conservationist organizations, Panamanian authorities and NGOs, and Ngöbe indigenous peoples to create a master plan for the management of a marine protected area in the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama. I focus on the conflicts among apparent allies in the quest for environmental protection and on how the environmental truth (in the name of global environmentalism) of donor organizations shaped the creation of a management plan in the Archipelago. The process of the creation of the Assembly and the development of the plan illustrate both the efficacy and the limits of grassroots activism in situations of uneven status and power.

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