• Live
    • Audio Only
  • google plus
  • facebook
  • twitter

Protests in Panama against License to Exploit Copper Mine

  • "Biology students say no to mining," reads the banner. Oct. 26, 2023. | Photo: X/@elsiglodigital

Published 26 October 2023

Teachers, indigenous groups and unions, along with civil society, are part of the protests throughout the country.

A massive protest took place again this Thursday in Panama in rejection of the controversial law approved by the government of President Laurentino Cortizo, which authorizes a mining concession for the exploitation of a large copper mine.

Panamanians To Protest Against Mining Contract

Thousands of Panamanian citizens took to the streets today in the middle of a rainy afternoon to march towards the seat of the Presidency of the Republic. Another group concentrated in the Cinta Costera, an avenue that crosses several emblematic neighborhoods of the capital.

People from West Panama were also present to demand the repeal of the law in front of the headquarters of the National Assembly. Demonstrators also shouted slogans in the vicinity of Cortizo's estate, in the province of Colon.

Shortly after the beginning of the mobilizations, the military and police arrived. According to local media, the police began to use tear gas against the demonstrators, while several of them broke down the security fences.

The tweet reads, "And thus began the REPRESSION on the peaceful march in PAITILLA: The large legitimate MULTITUDINARY march came in a PEACEFUL manner, playing the song "Patria" through the Paitilla area when police units began REPRESSION with tear gas, apparently defeated."

The Panamanians are mainly asking for the repeal of the recent contract law signed by Laurentino Cortizo, which renews a 20-year renewable concession to Minera Panama, a subsidiary of the Canadian company FQM. This authorizes the company to exploit an open-pit mine in a forested area of the province of Colon, about 120 kilometers from Panama City.

The young environmental leader, Camila Aybar has denounced in declarations to the press the controversial "mining contract for all the plundering they are taking of our natural resources and taking them abroad."

The tweet reds, "The people in the streets No to the mining contract."

According to Aybar, "the mine is within the area of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, and the contract has a clause that allows the company to do whatever it wants as long as Panamanian laws do not take them otherwise."

For his part, fellow environmental leader Marcos Santiago said, "We as Panamanians are not going to have sovereignty over the space where the mining company is going to operate, and we are practically giving Panama away to these concessions."

Consecutive Days of Protests in Panama

In several consecutive days of protests in Panama, slogans could be heard among the crowd gathered, such as "Panama's gold is green" and "Panama is worth more without mining."

The demonstrations have intensified this week, after the president signed the contract last Friday. Teachers, indigenous groups and unions, mainly the country's most powerful union, the labor union Suntrac, and civil society are part of the protests throughout the country.

There have been closures of highways and some points of the main highway, the Interamerican, as well as clashes with the police during the demonstrations. The use of tear gas fired at protesters has also been recorded.

In addition to considering that the approved law threatens the preservation of biodiversity in the Central American country, opponents claim that it does not overcome the deficiencies that led the Supreme Court of Justice in 2017 to declare unconstitutional a previous agreement.

Unconstitutionality Lawsuit Admitted against First Article of the Law

The Supreme Court of Justice admitted the unconstitutionality lawsuit filed last Monday by lawyer Juan Ramón Sevillano Villegas against the first of the law's articles.

According to a statement issued this Thursday by the Panamanian Judiciary, the Attorney General will have 10 working days to issue an opinion. Afterward, the parties will have another 10 days to present their arguments in writing, through a lawyer, and only then a draft judgment will be prepared and submitted to the consideration of the plenary of the Supreme Court of Justice.

Post with no comments.