Panama City, Oct 31 (EFE).- Clashes broke out in Panama on Tuesday between a group of protesters and riot police riot on the premises of the country’s parliament, which approved the repeal of a controversial mining contract in the first of the three required debates earlier in the day.
Late Tuesday, a group of demonstrators was dispersed by the police with tear gas, but clashes continued in other parts of the capital on the ninth day of protests against the 20-year renewable concession contract to the company Minera Panama, a subsidiary of Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, to exploit the largest open-pit copper mine in Central America.
The new pact was signed by Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo on Oct. 20 after passing the three necessary debates in parliament.
On Sunday, in the last of his three messages to the nation seeking to quell the protests, the president proposed the holding of a referendum on whether to scrap the contract signed between the government and Minera Panama.
The president also signed into law a ban on all new metal mining contracts, days after presenting it as an executive decree.
At least 878 people, including 117 minors, have been arrested in the country for alleged acts of vandalism and damage to property, in the protests so far.
A total of 39 police units have also been injured, 9 by physical aggression, 22 by blunt objects and eight by firearms, according to latest figures released by the National Police on Tuesday.
In addition, 62 businesses and 48 government institutions have been vandalized, including offices, security camera stations and metro stations, according to the official information.
Some 57 vehicles have also been damaged.
All the people detained by the police have been brought before the competent authorities, following riots in the provinces of Panamá, Panamá Oeste, Veraguas and Chiriquí. EFE