After being invisible for centuries, the inhabitants of the Panamanian, Colombian and Ecuadorian Pacific coasts have seen their territories and, subsequently, their resources invaded and exploited. The role given to the Chocó ecoregion by the political and economic powers within Colombia has changed over time. However, the common factor has been exploitation.
The Pacific region has been treated as a source of exploitable riches: gold, tannins, mangrove wood, palm heart, exotic flowers, hard woods, fish, etc. More recently, the ecoregion has become a strategic area for conflict, drug-trafficking and gun running. This colonisation, in terms of extractive businesses has greatly contributed to transformations in the social, cultural and landscape aspects of the ecoregion.
From the interior of the country, the Pacific region is seen as a conducive area for large infrastructure projects that would boost significant sectors of the national economy. The region's cultural wealth is hardly ever taken into account in these projects. Similarly, communities inhabiting the region are not respected. Ancestral territories are increasingly reduced and traditional subsistence practices are becoming unsustainable.