Originally living in the northwest of the Antioquia region in Colombia and the Darien Province in Panama, the Kuna moved west to the Guna Yala due to conflict with the Spanish and other indigenous tribes. Their necessity to move to the islands came from the excessive mosquitos and malaria that plagued the mainland. Once Panama gained independence in 1920, the police tried to regulate the Guna Yala, oppressing the Kuna and trying to stop them from wearing their traditional dress.
In 1925, a revolution was organised within the communities during their carnival. With the help of the most beautiful Kuna women and chicha fuerte – a strong alcoholic drink made from fermented corn and coffee – the Panamanian police got extremely drunk. The Kuna then murdered them with machetes, bows and arrows and sent the bloodied bodies back to the mainland as a message not to come to the islands. The Panamanian police tried to retaliate but were stopped by US warships with representatives from across the world. A treaty was then reached, resulting in the Kuna becoming the first indigenous group in Latin America to gain political autonomy. Since then, they have asked the Panamanian government for financial help for schools and solar power and tourists are able to visit.