Two protesters murdered in Panama | News
A 77-year-old man fatally shot two demonstrators who were protesting on Tuesday against the mining contract that was agreed weeks ago in Panama with a transnational mining company.
Panama teachers remain on strike until mining contract is repealed
The shooting occurred in the afternoon in a demonstration that was taking place on the Pan-American Highway, in the Chame sector, in the Panama Oeste province.
The attacker, a man with a long beard and white hair, stood in front of the protesters with an automatic weapon, immediately receiving the rejection of the citizens who were exercising their right to popular demonstration.
After the response of some protesters, the subject first opened fire on one of the citizens who was carrying a Panamanian flag, the man fell to the ground. A few seconds later a second shot was heard, this time against the second victim who fell on the side of the road.
The first protester died at the scene, while the second lost his life on the way to the Juan Vega Méndez polyclinic, in San Carlos. He arrived at the emergency room without vital signs.
The attacker did not even flinch after taking the lives of the two protesters, the man even separated some objects that blocked the road, taking advantage of the fact that some marchers dispersed. Despite his attempt to flee, the suspect was arrested by the Panama National Police without resisting.
Identity of the murderer
The attacker was identified as Kenneth Darlington, 77 years old, who has dual nationality, American and Panamanian.
For now, Darlington remains in police custody and it is expected that the authorities will issue a quick sentence for his actions.
It turned out that the suspect was a spokesperson for the defunct firm The Harris Organization, founded in 1990 by financier Marc Harris.
Harris at the time left Panama for Nicaragua where he was captured and deported to the United States for engaging in the stock market business without having a license or permit issued by any regulatory entity.
In November 2003, at a trial in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a 14-person jury found Harris guilty of 16 counts of money laundering, tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud.
Although he was not directly involved in the case, Darlington always defended Harris' innocence.
Years later, in 2005, Darlington and another former collaborator of Marc Harris were detained in an apartment in Punta Paitilla, Panama. During the arrest process, two M-16 rifles, a rifle, 10 pistols, two revolvers, a shotgun and ammunition for each weapon.
In 2006, the Tenth Criminal Circuit Court sentenced Darlington to 32 months in prison for illegal possession of weapons.
That sentence was confirmed by the Second Superior Court of Justice, but the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, in a ruling of December 3, 2007, acquitted Darlington on the grounds that the weapons were part of the defendant's personal collection.
From that moment on, he disappeared from public opinion or from any irregularity in Panama within the legal framework, until Tuesday when he executed two protesters within the framework of the anti-mining protests that are taking place on Panamanian soil.
Context of the protests in Panama
The protests have been led by teachers' unions, construction unions and indigenous communities, who demand the repeal of a contract that the Panamanian Government extended for 20 years, extendable to the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals, which allows the extraction of copper from a mine. in a protected area.
The contract was made through a concession with the company Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian firm, thus allowing the exploitation of the Cobre Panamá Mine, the largest open pit mine in Central America.
After learning of the signing of the contract, several sectors of the country have strongly rejected mining exploitation in the country due to the damage it does to ecosystems.
After several days of popular outcry, the demonstrations heated up after the Government and Parliament of Panama ruled out the option of repealing the contract.
Both powers said they are waiting for what the Supreme Court of Justice decides, which, it is worth noting, admitted several unconstitutionality claims against the contract law.
Four dead in peaceful demonstrations
With these two new deaths, there are now four fatalities left by these protests. In recent days, two protesters were run over on a stretch of the Pan-American Highway.
I express my condolences to the families of the two citizens who lost their lives in an incident that occurred this Tuesday in a sector of Panama Oeste. This is a fact that has no place in a society called to be supportive like ours.
— Nito Cortizo (@NitoCortizo)
November 8, 2023
It is necessary to remember that the groups that carry out these demonstrations are teaching unions, construction unions, indigenous groups and environmentalists.
These groups insist on heating up protests if the State does not do something to stop the contract. They assure that there are high risks that may involve the biodiversity in the Caribbean Sea that surrounds Panama.
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