Thursday 30th November 2023.
November 29, 2023
If the Minister of Commerce and Industries has any shred of dignity left, his resignation should have arrived yesterday at the Palacio de las Garzas. Counting on the strength that the majesty of the State confers on such a high position to, precisely, enforce the interests of the country, the official allowed himself to be overwhelmed by a “concessionaire without concession.”
In an act as serious or worse than the previous one, he spent months disguising a contract that had been declared unconstitutional. How to explain then that he, also being a lawyer, discarded and hid the legal opinions issued by the Administration Attorney, no less than the official consultant of the officials. In them, he warned him in a thousand ways that what he proposed to do was unconstitutional.
The voracity of the miners always found justification with the argument that now they would pay more than before. And the Panamanians got fed up. His cry was unmistakable. How long will the only value that is rubbed in our face is that of dollars and cents, while schools fall apart, there are no appointments or medicines and public transportation is cannibalized? And decency, and equity? And our forests and rivers, all for sale?
The ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice has completely exposed both the minister and the rest of the cabinet. They acted, unequivocally, outside the Constitution and the best interests of the country, always in collusion with the insatiable chamber of deputies.
And where is the father’s fault for this tragedy? The one who promised us good government, prudence and honorability, and who still does not understand why the people have become fed up with the corruption and voracity of their co-partisans.
President Cortizo, you know this because you have gray hair. A while ago he should have asked his entire cabinet to resign, as was done in Panama and is customary in large democracies in times of serious crisis and lack of credibility. It must be renewed with prepared people of impeccable honor who will help us navigate the remaining months and who, in addition, will be guarantors of an impeccable electoral tournament.
Reading the ruling pronounced by the Supreme Court is an obligation for every citizen. First, because it imposed the rule of the Magna Carta over the legislated laws. Second, because he has once again put a stop to the years of manipulation, appeals and supposed clarifications of the sentence that have been rehearsing this succession of owners of a business that was born crooked. They wanted to inflict the same mistake on us again with the argument that it creates investment and jobs, always hiding the pirate flag with which they track their next loot.
The sanction of the contract, through a vulgar and offensive move, was the trigger for the massive social movement that brought together the entire country. It is not only a rejection of mining, but also the repudiation of lies, witch payrolls, abuses, an infernal debt and the unforgivable indifference of officials who govern without checks and balances and behind the people’s backs.
The Government did everything wrong: it did not listen to experts who warned that the contract was leonine and unviable; He ignored the inhabitants of the towns adjacent to the mine, who denounced damage to their environmental surroundings, and he disregarded the opinions of dozens of the country’s best jurists. Not to mention the pro-government deputies who are also responsible for the damage that the country has suffered. They reacted with scorn when others voted against it, and almost none paid attention to repeated warnings against the contract.
First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FQML) , which manages the Cobre Panamá project through its subsidiary Minera Panamá, SA , estimates that the planned and definitive closure of the mine in Donoso will take “at least five to 10 years.”
He also called on the government to “promote dialogue to find solutions,” after the Supreme Court of Justice declared that its concession is unconstitutional and, therefore, legally non-existent.
The company recalled that it has invested $10 billion in Panama “in good faith” and that the Court’s ruling, dated November 28, “does not consider the catastrophic financial, social and environmental damage that this will cause,” maintains FQML. , in a statement released this November 29.
Although the full Court, in a 234-page ruling, unanimously declared that Law 406 of 2023 , which adopts the contract with Minera Panamá, violates 25 articles of the Constitution , for First Quantum that decision “reflects social discontent regarding to mining in Panama” and maintains that it remains “open to constructive dialogue.”
The statement ends with the warning that the company “reserves all legal rights to protect its investment, prioritizes the safety and well-being of its employees, and remains open to constructive and transparent dialogue.” On November 26, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (Mici) announced that FQML and Franco Nevada Corporation had sent two notices of intention to file arbitration claims against the Republic of Panama, appealing to the free trade agreement between Panama and Canada.
An administrative complaint to investigate the management of the funds allocated for the advice and drafting of the mining contract, signed between the State and Minera Panamá, was presented to the Attorney General’s Office by lawyer Ernesto Cedeño .
In his letter, Cedeño asked the Public Prosecutor’s Office to request the Comptroller General of the Republic, headed by Gerardo Solís, to carry out an audit on the $5.9 million that the Minister of Commerce and Industries, Federico Alfaro, requested from the Commission of Budget of the National Assembly to cover the costs of drafting the mining contract, which last Tuesday was declared unconstitutional by the plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice .
In his complaint, Cedeño emphasizes that the Supreme Court ruling reveals that after a detailed analysis of the contract, signed between the State and Minera Panamá, it was established that it violated 25 articles of the Constitution .
Cedeño stressed that there must be accountability on the part of the officials who allowed the use of State funds in a non-responsible manner.
He explained that this is the first legal action he has taken against the officials who participated in the negotiation of the mining contract, since its approval has caused serious damage to the country.
The Panamanian Chamber of Construction (Capac) requested that free movement of the population be respected and that all sectors return to their functions, in order to restore the social, educational and economic activities of the country.
Capac’s message is given based on the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice , which declared unconstitutional this Tuesday the contract between the State and Minera Panamá for the exploitation of copper, and that with this decision the reasons that motivated the protests are eliminated. of a large sector of the population.
“That the right to free transit of the Panamanian population be respected without any limitation, so that each citizen can exercise this right without any limitations other than those established by the Constitution and the law,” is reflected in one of the points of the document. that the union disclosed.
One of the groups that spent more than a month blocking the streets and protesting against the mining contract was that of the construction workers, grouped together in the Single Union of Construction Workers (Suntracs).
Capac has not yet specified how much the economic losses in this sector amount to as a result of the protests.
Likewise, Capac highlighted that the mine closure process must occur in an orderly and progressive manner, ensuring that the ecological damage that has been caused in the areas affected by mining activity is not aggravated.
In addition, it is expected that the Executive will present to the country a proposal or orderly plan of all the activities, audits and other components necessary to comply with the closure process of the Donoso mine, province of Colón.
“Once the legal and administrative actions required by this delicate process have been satisfied, let us Panamanians overcome the differences between those who favored the mining project and those who strongly rejected it, to join forces in the necessary commitment to defend the country’s interests in the face of potential arbitration claims that may arise.” propose Minera Panamá against the Panamanian State.”
Panama has been blocking roads for more than 35 days, by groups that oppose mining; Some continue with the closures, arguing that they hope that the Executive publishes the ruling of unconstitutionality in the Official Gazette .
After learning of the ruling, the Inter-American highway was reopened, in the east of Chiriquí, but this Wednesday traffic was blocked again.
The National Secretariat of Energy announced the new regular fuel prices , which will be in effect between December 1 and 15.
95 octane gasoline will register an increase of one cent per liter and will be sold at $0.948 ($3.58 per gallon), while 91 octane gasoline will not register an increase and will maintain the price of $0.89 per liter ($3.36 per gallon).
Regarding low sulfur diesel, it is reported that it will drop three cents and a liter will be sold for $0.927 ($3.50 per gallon).
It is important to highlight that 91 octane gasoline and diesel are within the Government’s subsidy plan, with a fixed price of $3.25 per gallon nationwide.
95 octane gasoline has not been part of the fixed price since last April.
At least 40 trucks with food arrived in Merca Panama in the last few hours . The sales stalls were stocked and the prices of the products immediately registered a decrease.
Yoris Morales , a merchant at Merca Panama, highlighted that after the opening of the Inter-American highway, in the east of Chiriquí, 40 trucks arrived at the market with about 24 thousand pounds of different vegetable products.
He highlighted that the merchandise that arrived will cover demand until Saturday or Sunday of this week, and that lower prices are already reflected for consumers.
He reported that celery was $5 a pound and is now between $1.50 to $1.70 and lettuce was also $5. and now sells for between $1.50 and $1.70.
Another product that registered a large decrease was potatoes; The bag was sold for $125 and dropped to $35, while the carrot cost $5 a pound and is now sold in Merca Panamá between $0.80 and $0.90.
Morales announced that these 24 thousand quintals of food are enough to meet part of the demand in the provinces of Panama, Panama Oeste, Darién, Colón and the beaches.
Merca Panama’s supply was greatly affected by the blockades in Tierras Altas and the Inter-American Highway. The products were transported by sea and air, but this made the products more expensive.
The groups that reject mining closed the Interamericana again this Wednesday, arguing that they will remain on the streets until the Court’s ruling, which declared Law 406 unconstitutional, is published in the Official Gazette .