Two protesters die after being shot by a man in an anti-mining protest in Panama

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Chame (Panama), Nov 7 (EFE).- The protests in Panama in rejection of a mining contract experienced their most tragic day this Tuesday after an armed man killed two protesters who were blocking his vehicle from passing through a highway. cut, as EFE was able to verify at the scene of the shooting.

The attacker, a 77-year-old Panamanian of supposed American origin, argued for several minutes with the protesters, who were blocking the Pan-American highway in the Chame sector, whom he threatened with a gun, while removing several objects that were obstructing the passage in the road like tires and rocks.

"Why don't you shoot? You're going to have to kill us all," one of the protesters challenged him, without imagining that shortly after the man would open fire. It was around 2:40 p.m. local time (7:40 p.m. GMT).

First he shot a man in front of him who was carrying a Panamanian flag, falling instantly. Screams broke out. A few seconds later a second shot. The victim walked a few meters to the other side of the road, before collapsing to the ground and losing consciousness.

One of the protesters who was shot died at the scene, while the other died on the way to a medical center, where he "arrived without vital signs," according to the police report to which EFE had access.

The attacker, apparently undaunted, continued after the shooting separating objects that blocked the road, such as logs, until the Police stopped him.

At the scene of the event were teachers who had interrupted traffic at this point on the Panamericana for two weeks to demand the repeal of the law contract that extended for 20 renewable years the concession for the company Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals, exploit the largest open pit copper mine in Central America.

One of the teachers protesting at the site of the attack had told EFE, shortly before the shooting, that they had been there for more than two weeks and that they did not plan to leave soon.

"Today we have 15 days of being firm in this position. We are making this demonstration because we are against law 406 (of the mining contract), disastrous for our country. We remain in the request for repeal, so we remain here in this position," said teacher J. Caballero.

"We are defending the rights of our children, our students, the future of Panama," he stated.

Since the protests began, at least two other people have died in Panama after being run over in places where there are road blockades, actions of force led by teaching and construction unions, as well as indigenous groups.

The Government and Parliament of Panama have already ruled out the repeal route and have said that they will wait for what the Supreme Court of Justice decides, which has admitted several unconstitutionality claims against the law contract.

The condemnations of this Tuesday's shooting were immediate, especially from politicians and activists who have opposed the mining contract in Parliament or on the streets, such as deputy Juan Diego Vásquez, who called the attack "unjustifiable."

"Violence should not be tolerated. One thing is economic loss, another is losing one's life. The people continue to lay down the dead, while the government does not solve the country's problems. Please take action. Panama needs peace," Vásquez wrote in a message on social network X (formerly Twitter).

Opposition politician Ricardo Lombana also described what happened as "unacceptable and condemnable." "What pain. Let the full weight of the law fall on this individual and, on the government, stop being a complicit spectator and not allow more confrontations or violence between Panamanians. We need peace in the streets," he said on the same network. social.

The environmentalist Raisa Banfield criticized the nonsense of what happened on social media. "We are defending the Panama of life, against the death that the mine brings and it turns out that intransigence leads us to Panamanians dying in the protest."

"They took us to the abyss with their obtuse contract, and now to meaningless death," he said.

As night fell, groups of protesters remembered the victims of the shooting with candles.

Panama City, Nov 7 (EFE).- A group of lawyers denounced this Tuesday the 47 deputies who voted on October 20 in favor of approving the controversial law contract between the State and Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian company Firts Quantum. Minerals, which has unleashed a severe crisis in the country.

The criminal complaint was filed before the Supreme Court of Justice of Panama - by at least five lawyers - for "the alleged commission of the crimes of abuse of authority and infringement of the duties of public servants against Roberto Ábrego Torres and other deputies of the Republic of Panama".

Roberto Ábrego is a deputy for the ruling PRD and president of the commission that approved, in the first of the three necessary debates, that controversial mining contract.

The complaint, to which EFE has had access, states that some deputies were absent "without giving any explanation to the face of the country" from the debates on that mining contract in the National Assembly (AN/Parliament), enabling their substitutes.

The document describes that "the way in which said norm was approved, which conflicts with various articles of our Political Constitution, are public and well-known facts, and of national and international knowledge," since Parliament expeditiously approved this law contract on the 20th. October, and hours later it was signed by the president of the country, Laurentino Cortizo, and immediately published in the Official Gazette that same day.

He adds that these events "have been the subject of various unconstitutionality actions and civic mobilization at the national level of a vast majority of the Panamanian population in rejection of this contract that is detrimental to the interests of the Republic of Panama."

The criminal complaint highlights that in social media and media accounts "the actions of the deputies can be verified to the detriment of our Political Constitution, the interests of the Nation and the failure to comply with their duties and obligations as public servants. ".

Given this, they made the "special" request "urgently" to the plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice to "request the financial statements, accounting records, account statements, deposits, properties and other transactions carried out by each one."

In order to "determine if there is alleged illicit enrichment or if they wish to justify the origin of money, property and similar during the fixed time of 2021 at the time of filing this complaint."

The law contract includes a clause that indicates that if there are acts of corruption, such as bribes or illegal commissions, among others, the State may terminate it early and the company "will not receive any type of payment as compensation for damages or losses." .

This Tuesday, Panama marks two weeks immersed in an internal crisis due to road blockades and the largest street protests in decades against that controversial contract, which keep the country semi-paralyzed.

The future of this law contract lies in the decision of the Supreme Court, which must rule whether it is unconstitutional or not, after the deputies gave up last week on repealing it through a bill.

The blockades on the country's main roads have left at least four dead: two from a collision and two this Tuesday after a person opened fire on protesters.

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