Ongoing Protests in Panama Lead to Arrests, Fatalities, and Economic Strain - Expat Community

Ongoing Protests in Panama Lead to Arrests, Fatalities, and Economic Strain

Nov 24, 2023 | Knowledge Base, Panama | 0 comments

The ongoing protests against a Canadian mining company in Panama have intensified into their fourth week, resulting in over a thousand arrests and at least three tragic fatalities, according to a detailed report released by the Panamanian police on Friday.



The unrest escalated as two individuals lost their lives due to gunfire from a Panamanian-American lawyer during a roadblock, and at least one person suffered a fatal collision with a vehicle. These incidents occurred within the context of protests against the mining company, emphasizing the gravity of the situation.



In an official statement, the National Police disclosed that 1,156 individuals have been apprehended so far, facing charges ranging from acts of vandalism to causing damage to both public and private property during the demonstrations. Disturbingly, 151 minors are reported among the detained, highlighting the complexity of the unrest.



The protests have resulted in staggering collateral damage, with reports indicating that 63 commercial establishments and 19 institutions fell victim to acts of vandalism. This includes crucial infrastructure such as metro stations, ATMs, and even police facilities.



In response to the unrest, Saúl Méndez, the secretary-general of the construction union and a key figure in organizing the protests, declared a steadfast commitment to their cause, stating, “We will remain on the streets until we regain the sovereignty, self-determination, and dignity of the country.”



The economic toll of the protests is another critical facet of the unfolding situation. According to the private sector union, losses surpass a staggering 1.7 billion dollars, highlighting not only the economic ramifications but also the depth of grievances fueling the sustained demonstrations.



Amidst the chaos, the Congress took a notable step by approving a moratorium on metallic mining earlier this month. This decision, seen as an attempt to appease public discontent, has transferred the fate of the mining contract to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Justice.



As the unrest persists and tensions remain high, the events in Panama underscore the complex interplay between environmental concerns, economic interests, and public sentiment—a delicate balance requiring careful navigation to achieve a resolution that satisfies all stakeholders.



Latest U.S. Embassy Alert


A demonstration scheduled for November 20 has prompted the U.S. Embassy to issue a warning, anticipating extensive road closures that will disrupt commutes and daily routines.



Routine consular appointments for November 20 have been canceled, with notifications sent out, while emergency services for U.S. citizens will continue.



The Embassy advises those in affected areas of Panama City to avoid demonstrations, limit movements, and stay indoors as conditions warrant. Citizens are reminded that Panamanian National Police have used tear gas and other riot control measures during demonstrations.



In response to the situation, the U.S. Embassy offers recommendations: citizens should avoid participating in demonstrations, exercise caution when traveling, monitor local media for updates, and be vigilant if unexpectedly near large gatherings or protests. In case of immediate health or safety concerns, individuals are urged to contact local authorities by dialing 911.



Moreover, citizens are encouraged to register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and stay informed by referring to the embassy’s website for the latest alerts and messages.

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