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People’s resistance against mining in Panama: the twilight of a betrayal

Yesterday the world witnessed the painful betrayal perpetrated by the Assembly of Deputies of the Republic of Panama in collusion with the Executive Branch, who yesterday, October 20, 2023, sealed the mining contract with Minera Panama.

Mining in Panama has roots dating back to pre-Columbian times. However, it was in the 20th century when industrial mining began to play a significant role in the country's economy. In particular, the exploitation of copper in the Cerro Colorado region during the 1970s marked the beginning of a new era in Panama's mining history. The history of mining in Panama is marked by resistance and the constant struggle of the Panamanian people from its inception. Over the years, Panamanians have vigorously fought against mining companies, arguing that their presence tears apart the social and ecological fabric of their communities. Actions of resistance to mining in Panama have been diverse, from protests and demonstrations to road blockades, demonstrating the unwavering spirit of the Panamanian people in defense of their lands and their future.

Despite the continued resistance and struggle of the Panamanian people, the mining contract with Minera Panama has been approved today. The President of the Republic of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, has ignored the protests of the citizens and has made changes to the contract. This action suggests his willingness to transfer Panamanian territory to a transnational company, without prioritizing the protection and conservation of our natural resources. The contract has been sealed, regardless of the concerns expressed by the Panamanian population, highlighting once again the painful betrayal of the Assembly of Deputies and the Executive Branch.

Laurentino Cortizo has disregarded the popular outcry, acting indifferently to the interests of the people. He has made suspicious amendments to the contract for its sale, demonstrating his willingness to hand over Panamanian territory to an international corporation without considering the protection of our natural resources. This mining territory is located in the neglected province of Colón, a region that has been left to its own devices. Since the late 16th century, Africans were brought to Panama as slaves, playing a crucial role in the construction of the Royal Road and the transisthmian railway, two vital elements for the economy and global trade but exclusive to the Afro-descendant community. Despite the passage of time, the Afro-descendant community of Colón has persisted, fighting against oppression and preserving its rich cultural heritage. Colón has and continues to be an essential part of Panamanian identity - albeit in the abstract - through its music and food in general. However, it seems that the current government does not consider them holders of human rights. Despite having the highest density of Black population and being the second city that contributes the most economically at the national level, it has been relegated to the last place in the government's priorities, further highlighting its incompetence and ineptitude.

The current leaders have overlooked the damage to our biodiversity, caring only about filling their pockets and securing millions for the electoral campaign in May 2024. They disregard the will of a population that has expressed opposition to the mining contract. The Government does not listen to the people and continues to give in to the same traitors as always, who do not care in the slightest about the well-being of the population. Once again, in this land of corrupt politicians, the pact of betrayal will be carried out, placing the market at the center and not life, just as it happened in 1903.

The approval of the mining law contract between the State and Minera Panama signifies the official endorsement of the mining company's activities in Panamanian territory. This contract sets in motion mining operations, which can lead to intensive exploitation of the country's natural resources. Although the government is certain of a short-term economic boost through export revenues and job creation, there will also be serious environmental risks, including deforestation, water pollution, and displacement of local communities. This contract is a clear example of government decisions that favor the economic interests of companies over the protection of the environment and the rights of local communities.


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