During one of the demonstrations in the city of Chame, Panama, a 77-year-old man fatally shot two protesters. The demonstration concerned opposition to the contract for the exploitation of rich Panamanian copper deposits, signed by the government of that country with the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals.
The incident occurred during Tuesday’s demonstration in the city of Chame. Protesters blocked the street, placing old tires on it, which prevented car traffic.
The recordings available on social media show how a man, who had to get out of his car due to the blockade, first approaches the protesters, talks to them, demands that they remove the blockades and allow them to pass. At one point, after verbal arguments, he pulls a gun from his pocket. Then, with a gun in his hand, he begins to remove obstacles from the road himself, while shouting at the protesters.
At one point he fires shots – first at one man, a moment later at the other. One died on the spot, the other – in the hospital.
Local police later announced that the perpetrator was 77-year-old Kenneth Darlington, a lawyer and lecturer with dual American and Panamanian citizenship. Local media reported that the man had previously been convicted of illegal possession of firearms.
Darlington was arrested by the police and the prosecutor’s office took up the case.
Protests in Panama
The shooting took place during a demonstration against the contract for the exploitation of rich Panamanian copper deposits, signed by the government of that country with the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals. A wave of protests related to this has been going on in Panama for several weeks.
The contract signed for 20 years with the possibility of extension for another two decades allows the Canadian company, among others, to: to start mining copper in Panama’s forest reserves, and the proceeds from its sale would enable Panama to repay its high foreign debt.
The motive behind the protests of the demonstration participants, which at times became very violent and were met with a strong police response, were concerns about the harmful consequences of excessive expansion of the area of exploration and exploitation of Panamanian copper for the country’s natural environment.
Panama has been exporting copper mined there since mid-2019. The main recipient is China.
Main photo source: Bienvenido Velasco/EPA/PAP