Two people were killed in Panama on Tuesday during a demonstration against a controversial mining project. This is reported by the police, who are talking about a “dispute at a roadblock”.
Today at 04:34
“Two people have died, hit by firearms,” 80 kilometers west of the capital Panama City, the police said on X, formerly Twitter. The suspected shooter, a 77-year-old man, was arrested.
Videos on social media show a man opening fire on a protester at a roadblock on the highway connecting Panama with the rest of Central America.
Manifestors have been protesting for weeks against the extension by forty years of the exploitation contract for the largest copper mine in Central America by the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals (FQM). They are concerned about the impact on the environment and the legality of the contract. On Tuesday they again blocked several streets.
President Laurentino Cortizo has tried to calm emotions by proposing a referendum. However, this was prohibited by the court.
The government then decided that the Supreme Court will have to consider the renewal of the contract, which according to the government will earn the state $375 million per year. The government also warns that 8,000 direct and 40,000 indirect jobs would disappear if the contract is not renewed.
The giant copper mine, 150 miles from Panama City, generates 4 percent of Panama’s gross domestic product and 75 percent of its export earnings. In 2019, the mine produced around 300,000 tonnes of copper concentrate per year.