Sunday, 10 August 2008

Michael Pierce - About me

I have practiced international and environmental law for more than 40 years. My home base is Panama City Panama, but I spend more than half my time traveling --- in South America, Europe, and the Far East. Most of my legal cases involve environmental pollution issues (oil spills, mining, toxic torts). Also I have represented clients in many major air crash cases in Russia, Cyprus, Peru, Panama, Colombia, United States, Indonesia, and China.

I have lectured at law schools in India, Peru, and Panama. Teaching and sharing my experiences, particularly about environmental law and mediation, is my passion.

I am a founding member of Panama's American Chamber of Commerce, Panama West Rotary Club, and the Lieff Global network of attorneys.

Travel, meeting new people, and working on challenging cases worldwide --- all help to keep my RPMs running at full speed --- hopefully for another 25 years.

I am sincerely interested in networking with people interested in: our environment, green investment opportunities in Panama, Panama's Darien Province and its tropical rainforest, and the indigenous tribes of Panama.

I, and the Panamanian law firm of Carreira Pitti, represent 4,000 Ngobe-Bugle in a massive oil spill which destroyed most of the marine life in the Bay of Chiriqui. We have filed their case in Panama's Maritime Court and are fighting to resolve it quickly. The Ngobe-Bugle have many villages, fronting the Bay of Chiriqui. Their milleniums-old culture and life-style center around Bay and the sustenance that it once provided. Now, the Ngobe-Bugle are floating in a sea of uncertainty. Their youth, most of whom leave school after the 6th grade, have a dim future. They can no longer fish in the Bay of Chiriqui. Many Ngobe girls start having babies at 12 years of age. Earning a salary is a miraculous event. Without fishing, the Ngobe are farming (mainly for sustenance) and looking for jobs, across the Bay, in Chiriqui Grande or elsewhere. In short, their culture is weakening daily.

Through my experience with the Ngobe-Bugle and our Embera-Wounaan clients in the Darien jungle, I have entered a whole new world of dichotomies. These proud people should have doctoral degrees from Harvard as "Guardians of the Rain Forest." Instead they are the poorest of the poor in Panama, with no real voice. Their comarcas (or reservations) have over a million hectares of tropical rain forest, and prime land, worth more than gold if developed in a sustainable fashion. To date, their comarcas continue to be ravaged---and the indigenous can only stand back an watch, victimized by their poverty.

I hope to network with foundations, investors, and environmentalists interested in helping Panama's indigenous people. As a newly-named Director of Earthtrain I am furthering this goal.

travel, teaching, swimming, golf, charitable organizations, Rotary,, Lieff Global network of attorneys,

I collect everything: stamps, coins, banknotes, Canal Zone memorabilia, antiques, and too many old relics. I am now thinking more about a more simple life, focused on my main priorities --- teaching, law, environment, and charity

Anything that pleases my brain and body. Jazz in particular
tv shows / movies

Serious, creative films --- devoid of flash and trash --- mainly from Spain, France, England, and sometimes from the U.S.

Present reads --- Howard Zinn's "The People's History of the United States," Gary Shteyngart's "Absurdistan" and "The Russian Debutante's Handbook," Also --- Joseph E. Stiglitz "Making Globalization Work"