In Panama, two protesters were killed by a gunman while blocking a road during ongoing demonstrations against a mining contract. The assailant was apprehended by authorities in the Chame district, located 50 miles west of Panama City. A video circulating on social media captured the moment the man opened fire on individuals obstructing the Pan-American Highway, a crucial link between Panama and the rest of Central America. These deaths mark the first fatalities since protests erupted on October 20 against a contract granting Canada-based First Quantum Minerals the rights to operate Central America’s largest open pit copper mine for another two decades. Demonstrators are primarily concerned about the environmental impact of the project.
The police released a photo of the detained suspect, an older man with greying hair and glasses, who was shown seated with one hand cuffed to a pipe, presumably in either a police station or a van.
As the protests continue, several streets in Panama City have been blocked by small groups of demonstrators. Additionally, various sections of the Pan-American Highway have been obstructed, causing disruptions in the transportation of essential supplies such as food, fuel, and medicine.
In an attempt to defuse tensions, Congress recently approved a law imposing a moratorium on new metal mining contracts. The decision on whether to uphold the contract with First Quantum Minerals has been left to the Supreme Court. Environmentalists have welcomed this development, asserting that the court should determine if the contract violates the constitution.
However, trade unions like Suntracs, as well as teachers unions and other organizations, are demanding the contract’s annulment through legislation passed by Congress. Consequently, they are persisting with their protests.
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