Protests continue in Panama against Law 406
La Prensa has reported several protests in Panama following the National Assembly’s endorsement, and President Cortizo signing of a new contract between the State and Minera Panamá.
La Prensa reported that the law was approved with 47 votes in favor, 6 against and 2 abstentions in the third and final debate. The legislation allows Canadian mining company First Quantum Panama, to continue operating a huge open-pit copper mine in central Panama for at least 20 years.
Fernando Abrego, leader of Panama’s Association of Teachers union spoke about the contract saying “The government decided this confrontation by quickly and expeditiously approving a contract they know is rejected by the people.”
Teachers along with The National Council of the Single Union of Construction and Similar Workers (Suntracs) are asking for a moratorium.
And Panama’s Supreme Court considers a lawsuit alleging that the nation’s contract with copper miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd. violates the constitution.
Bloomberg reports the court said in a statement that it will issue an opinion on the lawsuit within 10 business days. If it then proceeds, it will request written arguments from attorneys representing both sides.
Who is Protesting
The National Council of the Single Union of Construction and Similar Workers (Suntracs)
“The people are in the streets in defense of sovereignty," said union leader Saúl Méndez
“We do not accept the sale of the homeland" Méndez added.
Monday, October 23, the teachers announced that they will hold rallies in different parts of the country and also called for general assemblies.
School closures for were called in rejection of the mining contract throughout Panamá.
For teachers, however, Abrego said concession was not an option, and that the teachers’ union would hold an assembly to plan their next actions. “We will remain in the streets,” he said.
Environmentalists fear that Panama’s portion of the Meso American Biological Corridor, that connects wildlife in seven countries of Central America and Mexico has already been severed. These Conservationists warn against mining-caused deforestation that began 10 years ago and the affects on water supplies.
Indigenous communities are directly affected as their land rivers and crops are located near mine sites Environmental groups have worked with the comarcas to gain inclusion in the decision-making process.
"these communities want to be the ones to make decisions."