The perpetrator is Kenneth Darlington, Sr., a former attorney and professor with both American and Panamanian citizenship. The Daily Mail reported that he had already been convicted of illegal possession of a firearm in the past.
Darlington was stuck driving in a motorcade caused by protesters who blocked the road with their bodies, wood and tires.
He got out of the car and held a gun in his hand. He began clearing roadblocks and arguing with the protesters. One of the activists shouted, “Why don’t you shoot?” After which the attacker fired the fatal shots.
Two protesters were hit. One died on the spot and the other was taken to hospital where he later died. They were two teachers. Footage of the unfortunate incident quickly spread across social media.
According to the Daily Mail, the attacker was subsequently detained by the police and after a two-hour standoff, he was taken into custody.
Contamination of drinking water, damage to nature
Protests accompanied by road blockades erupted in Panama after parliament on October 20 extended a copper mining permit for Canada’s First Quantum Minerals (FQM) in an abbreviated procedure. It operates the largest copper mine in Central America in Panama. Thanks to it, Panama is the 14th largest producer of this metal.
The agreement greatly angered climate activists. Environmental scientists are also concerned that mining may contaminate drinking water and harm nature.
According to local authorities, each day of the protests caused a loss of 80 million dollars (1.8 billion crowns).
Unions and associations of indigenous people are demonstrating against the extension of mining. They point to the negative impact of mining and request the annulment of the parliament’s resolution.
It is not taught in schools
Teachers’ unions are particularly active in protests. As a result, Panama’s public schools have been closed since October 23, and teachers are threatening not to return to work until parliament reverses its decision to extend mining.
Private schools have mostly switched to distance learning. The protests have a serious impact on tourism and the transport of goods. According to the newspaper El País, the capital and other parts of the country are partially paralyzed by the protests.
In an attempt to calm the situation, the parliament approved a moratorium on the extension of mining licenses at the beginning of November. However, it does not apply to the authorization for FQM.
The extension of the license for FQM will also be dealt with by the Supreme Court, to which a number of citizens appealed, according to which the decision violates the constitution.
In the debate, the Panamanian government highlights the economic benefits of extending mining. FQM should pay the Panamanian state 375 million dollars (8.6 billion crowns) annually, mining represents four percent of Panama’s GDP. The mine employs 8,000 people and another 40,000 jobs are linked to it, writes AFP. According to Reuters, Panama would also be threatened with arbitration by the FQM if the extension was cancelled.