Wednesday 1st November 2023.

October 31, 2023


The Attorney General of the Nation, Javier Caraballo , sent his opinion to the Supreme Court of Justice on Tuesday afternoon on Law 406 of October 20, which adopts the contract between the State and Minera Panama: it is ‘unconstitutional’.

This was reported by sources from the Public Ministry to La Prensa .

Caraballo’s opinion was requested by Judge Olmedo Arrocha, who is the rapporteur of the unconstitutionality lawsuit filed by Martita Cornejo against Law 406. Said lawsuit was presented and admitted last Friday.

In total, there are eight claims of unconstitutionality against Law 406. All have already been admitted.

The Executive, after having sanctioned and promulgated in the Official Gazette the mining contract on the same day that it was approved in the third debate by the National Assembly, is now promoting a public consultation, on December 17 to decide whether or not to terminate said contract with Minera Panama.

The National Assembly must approve, in extraordinary sessions, bill 1109, which orders public consultation, the result of which, according to the Executive, will be binding.

Six other claims of unconstitutionality against Law 406 were admitted by the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), it was reported this Tuesday.

In this way, the eight demands that had been presented to this instance to date have been received by the Court’s magistrates.

Law 406 of October 20, 2023 establishes the new contract between the State and Minera Panamá. In the last ten days, this law has motivated different citizen groups to go out to protest – at the national level – to show their discontent over the controversial contract for mineral exploitation in Donoso, for 40 years, awarded to the mining company First Quantum Minerals.

On Monday, judges Miriam Cheng and María Cristina Chen Stanziola admitted the unconstitutionality claims presented at the time by lawyers Ernesto Cedeño Alvarado and Roberto Ruiz Díaz, respectively. These were sent to the Attorney General of the Administration, Rigoberto González, and to the Attorney General of the Nation, Javier Caraballo, respectively, so that they can issue a concept within a period of no more than ten business days.

Likewise, this Tuesday, October 31, two other substantiating magistrates admitted two more claims of unconstitutionality presented at the time by a group of 13 lawyers, and by the forensic firm Estudio Jurídico Cedeño, of which were also transferred for a period of time. of 10 business days to also issue a concept to González and Caraballo.

The one presented by Estudio Jurídico Cedeño, was admitted by Judge Ángela Russo.

In recent days, this court admitted the lawsuit filed by Juan Ramón Sevillano, a file that was left in the hands of Judge María Eugenia López . While the one promoted by Martita Cornejo Robles was admitted by Judge Olmedo Arrocha.

The Judicial Branch recalled that, in accordance with the provisions of article 2564 of the Judicial Code for this type of processes, once the file with the attorney’s opinion is returned, an edict will be published for three days in a newspaper of national circulation, to that within 10 business days (counted from the last publication) the plaintiff and all persons interested in the case present their arguments in writing through a lawyer.

Once the previous term has expired, the substantiating magistrate will examine all the documents that have been presented and will proceed to prepare a draft decision that will be submitted to the consideration of the magistrates that make up the Court, who may present observations and considerations that will be analyzed in a session of the full Court.

Meanwhile, citizen demonstrations have continued in the country, despite the announcements of a call for popular consultation on the permanence of the mine and the presentation of a bill that prohibits granting new concessions for the exploitation of metal mining.

With Panamanian flags in hand, protesters stood on the main road of Santa Rosa, Capira, in front of the entrance to one of the homes of the representative of circuit 13-2, Yanibel Ábrego . They criticized her for voting in favor of the mining contract.

Protesters placed stones, tree branches, vehicles and set tires on fire on the road for an hour. Closely guarded were members of the National Police who, after an hour of demonstration, talked to those present to open the road.

Some of the protesters told La Prensa that this Tuesday’s protest was “a warm-up”, from this Wednesday they will close the rod, starting at 10:00 am

“We are already preparing with banners and flags so that everyone knows that we are against the mining contract,” said one of the Capirean residents who attended the protest.

Demonstrations against the contract between the State and Minera Panamá were also recorded on the main road of this district in Panamá Oeste, as well as other points in Capira, such as El Cacao.

The mining company First Quantum Minerals announced that it has contacted the Government of Laurentino Cortizo in order to find out the details of the popular consultation that was requested and recently announced by the Panamanian president.

Last Sunday night, Cortizo reported – in a message to the Nation – that he would request this popular consultation so that the population decides whether or not to repeal Law 406 of 2023, which adopts the contract between the Panamanian State and Minera Panamá, in amid the massive protests taking place throughout the country due to its approval.

The controversial contract for mineral exploitation in Donoso, for 40 years, was awarded to that Canadian company this month.

In a statement, the Canadian company indicated that it is also aware of the comments made by the Electoral Tribunal (TE) regarding the legal and logistical considerations regarding the holding of said consultation.

Yesterday, Monday, at around 1:00 pm, the TE magistrates called a press conference to announce that at this time “there are no conditions to organize the intended popular consultation.”

The rating agency Moody’s lowered Panama’s sovereign rating from Baa2 to Baa3, while adjusting the outlook from negative to stable, they reported this Tuesday in a statement. This applies to the issuer and senior debt ratings.

In the opinion of the rating agency, there has been “no effective response from Panama to address structural fiscal challenges that have been increasing over time. This situation denotes weak governance and low effectiveness of fiscal policy, elements that are incorporated in the analytical framework of the rating agency.”

They also consider that these conditions will persist, leading to a deterioration in Panama’s fiscal strength, since the authorities’ practice of depending on specific revenue measures is insufficient to reverse underlying trends.

The National Association of Nurses of Panama (Anep) agreed to go on a staggered work stoppage.

Elydia Espinosa, president of Anep, said that the measure will come into force as of this Thursday, November 2 and is to reject mining activities in the country. She added that this strike will apply to outpatient consultation and the primary level of care, nationwide.

The Ministry of Education (Meduca) announced this Tuesday, October 31, that the official patriotic parades of next November 3, 4 and 5 (month of the Homeland) are postponed –temporarily–.

The decision was made after conversations between parents and directors of official and private schools with the National Commission of National Parades, in the midst of massive protests throughout the country in rejection of Law 406 of October 20, 2023.

The National Commission of National Parades, chaired by the General Directorate of Education of Meduca, also reported that it received multiple requests from the educational community who, given the events of recent days, shared their concern “for the safety and security conditions of the students, and the community itself, which commemorates historical events with patriotic fervor.”

The closure of roads for more than nine consecutive days, as a result of massive protests throughout the country in rejection of the mining contract, has had collateral effects that affect producers, consumers and finally the entire economic system.

Producers are keeping the harvest of the season and the little production that is managed to package, ends in discard and loss due to the impossibility of the products reaching the consumption centers. The supply chain for essential commodities has been broken.


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