Protests against the controversial mining contract between the Panamanian government and First Quantum Minerals continue to engulf the country and are expected to persist until mid-November. Social organizations, led by the Sindicato Unico Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Construccion y Similares (SUNTRACS), have organized a series of demonstrations over the past month. These protests have often involved blocking major roadways, causing localized disruptions to businesses, public transport, and public services.
In response to mounting pressure, Congress approved a modified version of the contract on October 20, despite widespread public opposition. The move only fueled further anger among activists, who staged numerous protests across the country on October 23, demanding the complete repeal of the contract. Clashes between protesters and law enforcement ensued, with tear gas being deployed to disperse crowds. Incidents of theft and vandalism were also reported, which resulted in the arrest of at least 30 individuals in the Panama City area.
As the momentum of the protests shows no sign of waning, it is likely that additional demonstrations will be organized in the coming weeks. This poses an ongoing risk of disruptions to normal daily activities, particularly in areas where protests are concentrated. Police presence is expected, and authorities may take measures to disperse protesters, potentially leading to further clashes.
Q: Why are people protesting the mining contract?
A: Critics argue that the mining contract is detrimental to the environment and local communities. They believe it grants excessive power and privileges to the mining company while neglecting the interests of the Panamanian people.
Q: What is the role of SUNTRACS in these protests?
A: SUNTRACS, a prominent labor union in Panama’s construction industry, has been at the forefront of organizing and mobilizing the protests against the mining contract. They are advocating for workers’ rights and voicing concerns about the potential social and economic impact of the mining operations.
Q: How should individuals respond to the ongoing protests?
A: It is advisable to avoid all demonstrations as a precautionary measure. If violence erupts, it is crucial to leave the area immediately and seek shelter in a secure, non-governmental building. It is also important to follow the instructions of security personnel and refrain from attempting to pass through roadblocks.