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Panama Supreme Court Declares Mining Contract Illegal

Above photo: Protesters in Panama. Últimas Noticias.

The Supreme Court of Panama declared the mining contract which renewed a Canadian mining company’s exploitation concession of the largest open pit copper mine in Central America as unconstitutional.

The renewal of this contract triggered a protest movement that has spread for more than a month throughout the country.

On Tuesday, November 28, the president of the Supreme Court of Panama, María Eugenia López, stated that the ruling was approved unanimously. The case was opened in response to two appeals presented against Law 406, approved on October 20 by the unicameral Parliament and President Laurentino Cortizo and that contains the contract.

López explained that “the judges who make up the plenary session have unanimously decided to declare the entire Law 406 of October 20, 2023, unconstitutional. The above means that the aforementioned law is expelled from the regulatory system that governs the country.”

Panama protesters begin unblocking the roads

After the Supreme Court’s decision was announced, protesters who have blocked roads in Panama began to allow traffic to pass.

According to the EFE news agency, these road blockades generated million-dollar losses and shortages in cities while cutting off the flow of goods between Panama and the rest of Central America.

In this regard, Ombudsman Eduardo Leblanc asserted that “democracy worked,” and advocated unity for the recovery of the country’s economy. “The times ahead are not easy, and we must, in unity and sensibility, move towards recovery and reconciliation,” he wrote on social media.

According to the news agency, in 2017, the Supreme Court had already declared as unconstitutional the legal contract that, in 1997, permitted the concession for the exploitation of the mine, first granted to the now defunct company Minera Petaquilla, whose rights reverted after several sales to Minera Panamá.


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