The term "Spanish Conquistadors" refers to an era of great Spanish power and influence. But for the indigenous people living in the lands controlled by the Conquistadors, it was considered a time of exploitation, disease and oppression.

Five hundred years after the era began, a new group of explorers arrived in Panama. They are Canadian mining companies searching for specks of gold in the rich Mesoamerican forests—a protected biological corridor that runs through seven Central American countries. These Canadian companies have generated tremendous wealth for Canada as well as for the countries in which they operate. They provide local communities numerous sustainable programs to offset the negative environmental impact of mining.

Yet, the changes these Canadian mining companies have brought to rural communities have generated much discussion. "The New Conquistadors," a 25-minute documentary produced by Pulitzer Center grantees Mellissa Fung and Lynn Burgess, explores the debates surrounding Canadian mining companies' quest for gold in Panama and its economic, environmental and social impacts on Panama's indigenous communities. The documentary aired on June 18 on The National. A one-hour version airs June 19 on CBC News Network.


A battle is being waged in the rainforests of Panama – between those who want to keep their way of life, and those who want economic growth. At stake: billions worth of precious metals.


February 19, 2014 /
Ben Depp, Nadja Drost
Cross continents with eleven of our grantee journalists as they take you into the mines to show you where we get our gold––exposing the hidden social and environmental costs of this business.
February 6, 2014 / Untold Stories
Ben Depp, Nadja Drost
On Feb. 14, the Pulitzer Center releases its newest e-book on the environmental and human prices of gold mining. Whether this resource is produced in a way that is fair to all is very much up to us.