Thursday 26th October 2023.
October 25, 2023
Citizen protests against the new Law 406 of October 2023 , which establishes the contract between the State and Minera Panamá, reached one of the properties of PRD deputy Benicio Robinson , in Bocas del Toro.
Members of the Association of Veraguense Educators (Aeve) protested this Wednesday, October 25, in front of the residence that the president of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) has in Rambala, district of Chiriquí Grande, Bocas del Toro.
One of the protesters mentioned that Law 406 allows “devastating the country.”
The Chiriquí Grande house is one of the politician’s many properties. In March 2020, La Prensa announced that the construction company Bagatrac, one of the largest contractors in the State, built him a mansion in Boquete, Chiriquí.
Robinson was one of the deputies who voted in favor of approving the bill that allows Minera Panamá to extract minerals for 40 more years in Donoso. The project was approved in the third debate last Thursday, October 19, and sanctioned the next day by President Laurentino Cortizo . In addition to being the president of the PRD, Robinson chairs the powerful Budget Commission of the National Assembly.
The new contract has Panamanian streets on the boil: roads closed, buildings vandalized, doctors on strike, and multiple events suspended.
Last Tuesday, protesters also protested in front of the house of deputy Hernán Delgado , in Chepo, in the east of the country.
The National Bar Association (CNA) asked the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) to quickly resolve the unconstitutionality claims filed against Law 406 of 2023, which adopts the contract between the Panamanian State and Minera Panamá.
“We urge you to speak out in an agile, fast, effective and timely manner, with the aim of guaranteeing legal security and social peace in our country,” said the CNA in a statement released this Wednesday, October 25, 2023.
Three unconstitutionality lawsuits were filed against Law 406 last Monday, which are in the offices of judges María Eugenia López Arias, Miriam Cheng and María Cristina Chen. It is up to each one to decide whether or not to admit each of the demands.
Likewise, the CNA asks the Government to establish mechanisms for dialogue with the various sectors that express their rejection of the mining contract, “in order to guarantee social peace and channel the concerns of the population.”
Likewise, it calls for guaranteeing compliance with the democratic principles of freedom of expression and citizen participation, but also respecting the legal security of investments and the right to decent work, social security and a healthy environment.
The union also asked to suspend the terms throughout the country, in those judicial processes or administrative procedures that cannot be carried out by electronic or telematic means.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) suspended public service at its offices located at PH Republic, on Via España, whose ground floor was vandalized last Tuesday night, amid protests and demonstrations against Law 406. of 2023, which adopts the contract between the Panamanian State and Minera Panamá.
The MEF reported that, together with the owner of the building, it carried out an assessment of the damage to “coordinate the necessary legal actions against those responsible.” It also takes security measures to prevent similar incidents from happening again.
In the PH Republic there are the offices of the directorates of Administration of Seized Assets, of State Patrimonial Assets, of Territorial Development and of Investment Programming (Cepadem).
It will be announced soon when service to the public will resume.
Since the protests against Law 406 of 2023 began, the headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture , on Peru Avenue, and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) , on Mexico Avenue, among others, have been vandalized.
Classes have been suspended since last Monday, October 23, due to protests
Initially, the suspension was ordered to preserve the safety of the students. But now it also turns out that the teaching staff has declared a work stoppage in different areas of the country.
The Panama Teachers Association (Asoprof), like several educational unions, announced last Tuesday a 48-hour strike, which was extended for another 48 hours. This event occurs when the school calendar is already in the third and last quarter of classes.
The Minister of Education, Maruja Gorday de Villalobos, pointed out that this is a “very worrying” situation, since it is also affecting students who are graduating.
“We have been informed that thousands of students have suspended their work practices, especially in the construction sector,” he indicated.
The minister commented that teaching virtual classes is not being considered, since the majority of students in the official sector do not have access to the internet. In the private sector, many schools are holding virtual classes, as they did during the pandemic.
According to the minister, in the next few hours or days the guidelines could be provided regarding the return of physical classes, as long as security allows it.
“Certain expectations should not be created for students with limited access,” he said.
Gorday de Villalobos also mentioned that contact has not been lost with some 24 unemployed educational unions and that the dialogue with teachers continues.
In addition to the repeal of the mining contract law, he commented that there are other internal issues under negotiation.
“We have to find a point of understanding with these groups,” said the minister.
One of the measures considered could be extending the school year.
The minister indicated that not all schools have been affected by the protests and whether they can finish the school year within the originally agreed calendar.
In addition, he indicated that it would be “hasty” to suspend the national holiday parades now.
“We have ways to resolve conflicts as long as [the parades] take place in an environment of peace and understanding,” he remarked.
A guarantee judge sentenced four people who participated in the vandalism against a cell phone sales outlet, located near Plaza 5 de Mayo, to 40 months in prison last Monday, during the protest against the mining contract.
In a hearing held this Wednesday morning, at the facilities of the First Judicial District of Panama, in Plaza Ágora, a guarantee judge legalized the arrest and accepted the charges against three people detained last Monday night by the police.
The four defendants decided to accept a sentencing agreement, which was validated by the judge. Immediately afterwards, the judge handed down a sentence of 40 months in prison for each of them, but commuted it to the payment of a fine of $600, which they must pay to the National Treasury.
The hearing to charge two other people for these same events is scheduled for this Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the National Police reported seven “alerts” of vandalism in the provinces of Panama and Colón, in which they managed to arrest five people who were placed under the orders of the Public Ministry.
Commissioner Elmer Caballero explained that in the San Miguelito district, five reports of acts of vandalism were issued, one of which was directed at a fuel station.
There is also the report of the violent break-in at a cell phone sales location in Santa Ana.
Caballero explained that in East Panama, the seven stores in a shopping plaza were vandalized.
In the province of Colón it was reported that a group of people with firearms robbed drivers who were stuck in a traffic jam caused by protests against the mining contract.
In Pacora, the police also reported a series of acts of vandalism against several vehicles that were near a street closure.
Also on the Panama-Colón highway, several robbery attempts against drivers were reported during a road closure.
In videos that circulated on social networks, incidents between drivers and people demanding money for the right to circulate are reported.