Anti-Mining Protesters Temporarily Suspend Road Blockades in Panama for 12 Hours

November 13, 2023 | by b1og.net


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Anti-Mining Protesters Temporarily Suspend Road Blockades in Panama for 12 Hours

Indigenous anti-mining protesters in Panama have announced a temporary suspension of road blockades for 12 hours on Monday as a gesture of goodwill towards citizens affected by the demonstrations. The protesters are demanding the annulment of a mining contract that allows the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals to continue operating an open-pit copper mine in a biodiverse jungle. The road openings will provide much-needed access to fuel and food, which have been in short supply due to the blockades. The protesters vow to resume their actions after the 12-hour period, emphasizing their opposition to the government’s handling of the situation.

Anti-Mining Protesters Temporarily Suspend Road Blockades in Panama for 12 Hours

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Anti-Mining Protesters Temporarily Suspend Road Blockades in Panama for 12 Hours

Protesters agree to temporarily lift road blockades

In a show of goodwill towards the citizens affected by their demonstrations, indigenous anti-mining protesters in Panama have announced a temporary suspension of road blockades for 12 hours on Monday. This move comes after weeks of paralyzing key roadways in the country, as protesters demand the annulment of a mining contract involving Canadian mining company First Quantum Minerals. By temporarily allowing the opening of roads, protesters hope to alleviate shortages of fuel and food experienced by the citizens.


Reason for the suspension

The temporary suspension of road blockades is aimed at allowing ordinary citizens to access necessary supplies such as fuel and food, which have been in short supply since the demonstrations began. The protesters recognize the impact their actions have had on the everyday lives of people and want to demonstrate their goodwill by easing the situation.

Duration of the suspension

The road blockades will be lifted for a period of 12 hours on Monday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. While this temporary suspension is meant to provide some relief to citizens, the protesters have made it clear that their fight against the mining contract will resume in full force once the 12 hours are over.

Background of the Anti-Mining Protests in Panama

Indigenous groups demand annulment of mining contract

The indigenous groups leading the anti-mining protests in Panama are demanding the annulment of a mining contract with First Quantum Minerals. This contract allows the company to continue operating an open-pit copper mine in a biodiverse jungle. The indigenous communities argue that the mining operations pose a threat to the delicate ecosystems they protect, and as a result, they are fighting for the contract to be revoked.

Concerns about environmental impact

Environmental concerns play a significant role in the anti-mining protests. The indigenous groups, as well as many citizens, are worried about the potential environmental impact of the mining operations. They believe that the delicate ecosystems in the region could be irreversibly damaged by the mining activities, leading to the loss of important biodiversity and natural resources.

Increase in importance of environmental protection in Latin America

The anti-mining protests in Panama are indicative of a larger trend in Latin America, where the importance of environmental protection is gaining traction. Many countries in the region are home to some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, and there is a growing recognition of the need to preserve and protect these natural resources for future generations. The protests in Panama reflect the increasing importance placed on environmental issues by both indigenous communities and the general population.

Impact of the Blockades on Citizens and Businesses

Shortages of fuel and food

One of the most immediate impacts of the road blockades is the shortage of fuel and food in various regions of Panama. The blockades have disrupted transportation and supply chains, making it difficult for citizens to access essential supplies. The temporary suspension of the blockades aims to alleviate these shortages and allow people to replenish their supplies.


Estimated daily loss for local businesses

The road blockades have also had a significant economic impact on local businesses. One Panamanian business association estimates that the blockades are causing a daily loss of $80 million for these businesses. The inability to transport goods and the disruption to normal business operations have led to financial losses and uncertainty for many entrepreneurs and workers in the affected areas.

Criticism of the blockades

While the anti-mining protesters have their reasons and demands, there has been criticism of the road blockades. Some argue that the blockades are causing more harm to citizens and local businesses than to the mining company itself. The economic losses incurred by businesses and the shortages experienced by citizens have led to frustration and criticism of the protesters’ methods.

International Attention and Reports of Fatalities

Confirmation of two protester deaths

The anti-mining protests gained international attention after it was confirmed that two protesters had lost their lives during the demonstrations. These fatalities drew further attention to the intensity and gravity of the situation in Panama and raised concerns about the potential escalation of violence.

Videos and reports of the incidents

Reports and videos of the incidents surrounding the protester deaths have circulated on social media and news platforms. The footage appears to show a man trying to pass through a barricade with a pistol, while other footage shows protesters lying dead on the ground. These reports and videos have fueled the global conversation about the protests and the underlying issues related to the mining contract.

Arrest of a suspect

The police have made an arrest in connection with the incidents surrounding the deaths of the protesters. However, the identity of the suspect has not been disclosed. The arrest is seen as a step towards providing justice for the victims and bringing accountability to those responsible for the violence.

Government’s Perspective on the Mining Operations

Importance of the mine for job creation

The Panamanian government has stressed the importance of the mining operations for job creation in the country. They argue that the mine provides valuable employment opportunities for the local population and contributes to economic growth. The government sees the mining contract as a means of boosting the country’s development and supporting its citizens through job creation.

Clash with Indigenous groups

The government’s perspective on the mining operations directly clashes with the demands of the indigenous groups. While the government emphasizes the economic benefits and job creation, the indigenous communities are concerned about the environmental impact and the potential harm caused to their traditional lands and livelihoods. This clash of interests has fueled the protests and intensified the conflict between the government and the indigenous groups.

Regional criticism on Canadian mining companies

Canadian mining companies, including First Quantum Minerals, have faced criticism in the region for their environmental practices and lack of accountability. Latin American countries have seen an influx of Canadian mining companies, and concerns have been raised about the resulting environmental damage. The protests in Panama are part of a broader discussion and criticism of the role of Canadian mining companies in the region.

Environmental Concerns and Indigenous Communities

Threat to delicate ecosystems

One of the core concerns raised by the indigenous communities and environmental activists is the threat posed to delicate ecosystems by the mining operations. The richly biodiverse jungle where the open-pit copper mine is located is home to numerous plant and animal species. The potential disruption and destruction of these ecosystems is seen as a severe environmental threat.

Disproportional impact on Indigenous communities

Indigenous communities often bear the brunt of environmental destruction caused by large-scale mining operations. They experience the direct impact of pollution, resource depletion, and disruption of their traditional ways of life. In the case of the anti-mining protests in Panama, the indigenous communities argue that they are disproportionately affected by the mining contract and its consequences.

Criticism of Canadian mining companies

The involvement of Canadian mining companies in Latin America has attracted criticism due to concerns about environmental damage and lack of accountability. Some indigenous communities and environmental activists argue that these companies prioritize profit over the well-being of local communities and the preservation of natural resources. The protests in Panama can be seen as part of a broader wave of criticism against Canadian mining companies operating in the region.

Police Announcement to Break Up the Blockades

Intention to use force if necessary

In response to the road blockades, the police have announced their intention to break them up if necessary. They have made it clear that they are prepared to use force in order to reopen the roads and ensure the well-being of all citizens. This announcement has raised concerns about a potential escalation of violence and added tension to the already fraught situation.

Objective of reopening the roads

The police’s main objective in breaking up the blockades is to reopen the roads and restore normalcy to the affected areas. By reopening the roads, they aim to allow the free flow of goods, services, and transportation, which have been severely disrupted by the protests. The government sees the road blockades as a threat to public safety and an obstacle to economic activity.

Response from the protesters

The response from the protesters to the police announcement has been mixed. While some argue that the police intervention is an infringement on their right to protest and express their grievances, others recognize the need for a resolution and are willing to engage in dialogue with the authorities. The potential confrontation between the police and the protesters adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing conflict.

The Resumption of the Protests

Protesters vow to resume demonstrations

After the temporary suspension of road blockades, the protesters have made it clear that they will resume their demonstrations in full force. The 12-hour opening of the roads is seen as a temporary measure aimed at providing relief for citizens, but it does not signal the end of the protests. The protesters remain determined to fight against the mining contract and advocate for their demands to be met.

Continuation of the fight against the government

The resumption of the protests underscores the continued conflict between the indigenous groups and the government. The grievances and concerns that sparked the initial demonstrations remain unresolved, and the protesters are determined to continue their fight. The ongoing confrontation between the indigenous communities and the government highlights a deep divide that needs to be addressed through dialogue and negotiation.

Duration of the protests

The duration of the protests is uncertain, as it depends on various factors, including the response from the government and the progress made in addressing the protesters’ demands. The determination of the indigenous groups and the importance placed on environmental protection indicate that the protests may continue until concrete steps are taken to address their concerns.

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Rare Unrest in Panama and its Significance

Uncommon occurrence of protests in Panama

Panama is not typically known for widespread protests and civil unrest. The anti-mining protests in the country represent a departure from the norm and highlight the significance of the issues at stake. The fact that indigenous groups and citizens are willing to take to the streets and disrupt daily life demonstrates the depth of their concerns and the urgency they attach to the need for environmental protection.

Increasing importance of environmental protection

The anti-mining protests in Panama are part of a larger trend in Latin America, where environmental protection is gaining increasing importance. The region’s rich biodiversity and natural resources have prompted a growing recognition of the need to balance economic development with environmental sustainability. The protests in Panama symbolize the growing movement for environmental protection and the desire for a sustainable future.

Local and international attention to the demonstrations

The anti-mining protests in Panama have drawn attention not only within the country but also internationally. The seriousness of the situation, the loss of lives, and the clashes between protesters and the government have elevated the protests to a global stage. The demonstrations have sparked conversations about the role of mining companies, the rights of indigenous communities, and the importance of safeguarding the environment.


The anti-mining protests in Panama have highlighted the ongoing conflict between indigenous groups and the government, as well as the broader concerns about environmental protection and the role of mining companies in Latin America. The impact of the road blockades on citizens and businesses, coupled with the international attention and reports of fatalities, further underscore the gravity of the situation. As the protests continue and Panama grapples with this rare unrest, the need for dialogue, negotiation, and sustainable solutions becomes increasingly important. The ongoing impact on citizens, businesses, and the environment necessitates careful consideration and thoughtful action to address the underlying issues and find a path towards resolution.

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