Understanding the Current Unrest in Panama

Angelo Martinez

By Angelo Martinez

As expats in Panama, it’s important for us to keep up with big news that impacts our new home. Lately, there have been a lot of protests in Panama over a deal with the Canadian mining company called First Quantum Minerals. Here’s what you need to know about this situation and how it impacts both the local and expat communities.

Background of the Protests

The core of the unrest lies in a contract signed on October 20 between the Panamanian government and First Quantum Minerals. This agreement grants the Canadian company a 20-year right to operate a major copper mine, with an option to renew for another 20 years. The deal is significant, as it involves one of the world’s largest copper mines.

Why Are People Protesting?

The contract has sparked considerable social unrest. Many Panamanians are worried about how the big mining work will affect the environment and their land in the future. They are also unhappy with how the government deals with foreign investments and natural resources. This has led to more people asking for changes.

Protest in puerto

A Peaceful Protest in Puerto

The previous administrator of your panama, David, shared his observations from a recent, peaceful protest in Puerto. The demonstrators didn’t block the road but sang the national anthem and marched into town with minimal traffic disturbance. David noted the respectful nature of this protest.

Furthermore, he witnessed acts of kindness, like trucks handing out free platanos to local poor people. Such gestures show the community’s spirit during these times. However, David cautions that things could escalate if the Supreme Court’s decision goes against public sentiment. Most people he spoke to are against the mine, but patience is wearing thin with continuous protests.

Men donating plantains

Government’s Response

In response to the growing protests, the Panamanian government has taken a couple of notable steps. Firstly, it has indicated that it might consider revoking the contract with First Quantum Minerals. Secondly, the president announced that no new mining projects would be approved, a decision echoed by Panama’s parliament with a moratorium on new metal mining contracts.

What Does This Mean for Expats?

As expats, we need to understand both sides of the situation. Foreign investments, like the ones from First Quantum Minerals, can help our economy and create new opportunities. But, it’s really important to listen to the local people’s worries, especially about the environment and how natural resources are used.

Also, there was a serious incident where a 77-year-old retiree, living here like us, shot two protesters. This shows how tense things can get and why we must be careful and empathetic.

Living in a country with different politics and economy can be tricky. As expats, we should always try to understand, respect the locals’ views, and help in positive ways whenever we can.

Men donating plantains

Moving Forward

The situation in Panama shows the tough balance between growing the economy and taking care of the environment and people’s needs. As expats, we have a unique opportunity to observe these dynamics and learn from them. It’s also a good opportunity to have important talks with people in Panama, to learn what they think and share our own thoughts.

While the situation is tense, it’s also a moment for reflection and learning. Panama continues to be a vibrant, diverse, and welcoming country, and as expats, we are privileged to be part of this community. Let’s stay engaged, informed, and respectful as we navigate these challenging times together.

The recent events here in Panama show us how international business, local government, and people’s worries all mix together. As we keep an eye on what’s happening, we should not forget to stay aware and understand what’s going on in adoptive country.