Monday 12th December 2022.

December 12, 2022


The Government raised its tone of voice in relation to the signing of the new contract with Minera Panamá, a subsidiary of the Canadian First Quantum, to continue with the extraction of copper, gold and silver from the mountains of Donoso, province of Colón. Without giving further details and through a statement issued last Friday by the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI), the Executive warned Minera Panama that if it does not sign the new contract before December 14 (as requested almost a year ago,), “alternate measures will be taken for the operation of the mine.” In other words, the company must deliver a response no later than next Wednesday. This week, Keith Green, Cobre Panamá country manager, told the EFE news agency that “we are negotiating, we are still talking, we hope to reach a good agreement, a win-win agreement for both parties. I wish it so”. He did not say anything about the December 14 deadline. Meanwhile, the Government wants to set a minimum payment of 375 million dollars based on royalty payments using a calculation between 12% and 16% on profits. The company has indicated that it needs special protections in case the price of copper decreases in international markets. This week, the pound of copper closed at 3.85 dollars, 14% below the 4.50 dollars that it reached last January, when Minera Panamá accepted the Government’s terms to replace the 2% percentage on gross sales that it used since 1997.

The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (Cciap) made this Sunday, December 11, an “urgent” call to the Government and Minera Panama to redirect the negotiations and achieve the signing of a new contract. “It is urgent to redirect the negotiations, focusing on win-win formulas, through which a fair balance is achieved that recognizes the State what it deserves and the company a benefit that takes into account the conditions and risks associated with the activity that I develop” , highlighted the business union in a statement. “Otherwise, we run the risk of annihilating an activity that represents 3.5% of Panama’s GDP, being at stake not only the investment that the State itself promoted, but also the future of an economic activity that, well developed, can be instrumental for Panamanians”, added the Cciap. Last January, President Laurentino Cortizo announced the signing of the new contract. However, company representatives reported that some issues were pending, such as the environment. For the Chamber, the signing of the new contract would be “an important milestone for the Republic” because it is an economic activity that represents “a significant source of wealth for the country”, as well as for the forty thousand families that depend on this activity. . For this reason, they view with “concern the erratic turn” that the negotiations “necessary to formalize said agreement” have taken; putting aside the Panamanian State, which seeks to obtain the fair income that corresponds to it for its mineral resource; and on the other, a foreign company that, a decade ago, saw Panama as a safe port to invest, making the largest private foreign investment in the country’s history.” The Cciap indicated that understanding that the negotiations have been complex, the latest government statements have left more questions than answers about the future of the project and the consequences “both economic and reputational that the country could face if the deadline is met without having come to an agreement.” Last Friday, the Government announced that it will apply “alternative measures” for the operation of the mine if an agreement is not signed no later than December 14.

The National Board of Directors of the Cambio Democrático party approved this Saturday, December 10, to give freedom to the elected deputies to resign from the group, without this implying the start of a mandate revocation process. This was reported by the president of the CD, Rómulo Roux, on his Twitter account, who added in the message that this exemption, from the revocation of mandate, will be in force until December 25.

The year 2022 is closing with a rise in new cases of covid-19 and one of the groups that is being most affected is the child population, especially those under six months of age, for which there is still no vaccine. The director of the Children’s Hospital, Paul Gallardo, stressed on Saturday that he currently has seven children in isolation due to covid-19 and one with assisted ventilation. He said that in previous days, there were more patients: 14 in total, of which three were in intensive care. “When the cases of covid-19 increase, the rooms are converted to care for patients,” he said. According to the pediatrician, there are currently other viruses circulating such as respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and rhinovirus. As for the occupation of the hospital, Gallardo acknowledged that they have had “overcrowding problems” for a long time, mainly in the emergency room.In the doctor’s words, low vaccination coverage is a global problem and Panama is not escaping from that.

The president of the Supreme Court of Justice, María Eugenia López Arias, revealed that as part of the contingency plan to speed up judicial processes in the guarantee hearing and oral trial phases, an aggressive program will be established to hold hearings in the penitentiary centers. In addition, the electronic bracelet program that has been in progress since the end of 2021, in the form of a pilot plan, will be permanently implemented by the General Directorate of the Penitentiary System of the Ministry of Government, with some 100 detainees who were placed with the electronic device and thus they were released. The beneficiaries are sick people, those with short prison sentences or who are in the final phase of serving their sentence.

Like the security forces, organized crime makes use of technology to achieve greater effectiveness in its activities. The authorities have not only detected the use of this technology to deliver drugs and weapons to detainees in prisons, but now these gangs use drones to monitor  their areas of operation and avoid the police. Police sources confirmed that some local drug trafficking gangs use drones to monitor the activities of the authorities and even their adversaries. In the so-called red areas, some residents warn that gang members use drones for surveillance tasks in their areas of influence.The use of these technologies has become more evident in prisons, where there are sightings of drones almost daily that drop small amounts from drugs to cell phones and weapon parts for later assembly  Only last November 12, three drones were intercepted by the security of the La Joya and La Joyita prisons, when they dropped several packages with drugs and a cell phone. On November 15 and 22, two other drones were detected; one of them threw drugs and the other was carrying parts of a firearm.Last week there was a shooting inside one of the Nueva Joya pavilions, in which two inmates were injured. The authorities are investigating how  these weapons got inside the prison. In December 2019, a confrontation between rival gangs left 13 inmates dead and 14 injured. During the investigation by the Public Ministry, it was found that the prisoners used AK-47 rifles and 9-millimeter pistols to attack each other. As a result of this incident, the control measures for entering prisons were reinforced.



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