Incidents of police brutality in Panama have increased amidst the massive protests currently taking place against exploitative mining practices and corporations in the country, during which dozens of injuries and arrests have been recorded in the past two days.
A legal action filed before Panama’s Public Ministry (MP) on Monday, October 23, has demanded an investigation into an incident of aggravated personal injury perpetrated by crowd control agents of the National Police (PN).
The incident involved Aubrey Baxter, a photojournalist and a member of the Ya es Ya collective, who was attacked during protests on October 19 and hit by a projectile in his right eye, leading to permanent loss of sight.
A few hours after the incident, the police issued a statement dissociating themselves from the attack, suggesting that it could be an injury caused by the protesters themselves.
However, a video recorded by Baxter clearly displays the origin of the shots fired.
Several protests took place this Monday in various areas of Panama, demanding the repeal of a mining contract the government made with the Canadian company First Quantum that would allow them to exploit copper in a forested area rich in biodiversity in the north of the Central American country, according to a report made by Telesur.
The Panamanian people raised their voices against the government’s decision, and the ensuing protests succeeded in partially paralyzing the country. The protesters oppose the open pit mining concession, which represents an income of $6 billion to the state, and condemn the decisions of the president of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, in allowing it.
The demonstrations extended to the University of Panama, which suspended its classes so that students could go out to protest against the government’s decision.
Teaching unions in Panama, such as the Teachers Association, have also called for general assemblies in rejection of the contract, which currently holds its validity for 20 more years, with the option of an extension for a similar duration. This contract has received a strong rejection from the public due to the risk it would entail to the environment.
Similar groups demand the repeal of the pact signed between the government and directors of the subsidiary of the Canadian transnational First Quantum, given that it was declared unconstitutional in 2017, years after the appeal made in 2009 by the Environmental Advocacy Center to declare said contract illegal.
Such unions are currently suspending several activities, such as academic activities, at all levels for 48 hours to demand the repeal of the contract.
(HispanTV) by John Alonso, with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/November 30, 2023