Two killed in Panama protests

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By LatAm Reports Staff Writers

Two individuals lost their lives in Panama during an anti-government demonstration on Tuesday when an unidentified gunman opened fire, escalating the already heightened social unrest that has been bubbling up amid public dissent over a controversial mining contract. The fatalities occurred amidst a backdrop of escalating protests, which initially focused on a deal with the Canadian corporation First Quantum Minerals but have since grown into broader governmental dissatisfaction.

Authorities have apprehended one suspect in relation to the killings, as announced by state prosecutors on a social media platform. Details about the suspect’s identity have not been disclosed.

The ongoing demonstrations have had a severe economic impact, with business losses estimated at US$80 million per day, according to the Panamanian business executives’ association. Educational institutions have been shuttered across the country for more than a week, and an excess of 150,000 healthcare appointments have been postponed.

The Association of Teachers of Panama (ASOPROF) claimed via social media that a U.S. citizen was responsible for the shootings, a statement not yet verified by officials. Government representatives have called for the cessation of the protests, while unions, particularly those representing construction workers and educators, insist on continuing their street presence until the contract with First Quantum is voided.

Inked on October 20, the contentious contract grants First Quantum a 20-year right to mine, with an option to renew for an additional 20 years, purportedly guaranteeing Panama US$375 million in annual income. Despite government assertions that the new contract is an improvement over its predecessor, demonstrators remain unconvinced and continue to voice their opposition.