Feature image: Protest against mining. Source: EFE
After the announcement of October 20 of the Government of Panama, where a 20-year contract was granted to the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals (FQM), the people of Panama took the streets showing their rejection of this. The Panamanian people caused road cuts, with respective cuts of supplies and food, and important economic losses, and, above all, a situation that the Government of Panama has not been able to control. We have reported more extensively about previous demonstrations.
The Government of Panama, led by Laurentino Cortizo, has tried to arrest the anti-mining company protesters, who demand an imminent cession of mining in the country. Through police repression, which has been present in all demonstrations, in total more than 562 people have been prosecuted for vandalism as a vague attempt to stop the popular struggle.
On Sunday, October 29, the President has taken a new step in his attempt to stop popular protests and has announced a turnout to maintain or repeal the Law 406. This is the law signed last Monday, and only deals with the contract of exploitation of the mine between the State of Panama and the foreign company FQM. According to Laurentino Cortizo, on December 17th of this year there will be a referendum to decide about the continuation of the law. Cortizo does not hesitate to clarify that “whose result will be binding”. Referendums like this are a usual reactionary way out of out-of-control protests.
However, multiple occasions have been seen as bourgeois law is never respected if it does not serve the imperialist interests. Without going any further, the first concession with the FQM company was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. This company had been working in the mine, the most important in Central America, and which represents between 4% and 5% of the annual GDP of Panama, and it “only” took almost two decades to verify its legitimacy.
However, the State of Panama knows that it cannot not give up this contract so easily. And although they now make promises to respect democracy and let the people choose the contract signed with the company, the government has shown how the country is being sold to foreign companies. The contract included assignments and the ability to extract minerals in areas outside the demarcation, or the ability of FQM to guarantee other companies to explore other minerals and subsequently request to the State for its extraction, among others.
Due to the false democrats who sell the land to monopoly companies, the people of Panama have been struggling for more than a week. The bourgeois institutions now are trying to calm down the situation and mislead the struggle, but the people doesn’t forget and won’t be fooled two times the same way.